<i>'Time for Fall Gardening'</i>

Edith Lovett

Pulaski County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Our farmers know that you can continue to plant crops in the fall, but new farmers may not realize that there are different seasons for growing. Pulaski County has three growing seasons: spring, summer and fall. Vegetables that grow well during the fall months and the days to maturity include beets 70-75 days), bib lettuce 50-60 days), broccoli 60-80 days), brussels sprouts 70-80 days), carrots 80-90 days), cabbage 60-70 days), kale 70-80 days), leaf lettuce 40-60 days), mustard greens 50-60 days), radishes 30-40 days), spinach 50-60 days), turnips 50-60 days) and turnip greens 50-60 days). Generally, you should plan your planting so that the crops have time to reach maturity before the first frost.

There are advantages to a fall vegetable garden since the weather is milder, and many insect pests are getting ready to hide out for the winter. The fall harvest can be extended even further if you plan and protect the plants from early frosts. This is not the gospel, but the web site says Pulaski's first frost will be around October 11. I'm not sure when Bill Mardis predicts our first frost, but he will keep you informed. If you have fall raised beds it is so easy to cover the crops when the weather people forecast a frost is coming. When a frost is predicted, cover growing beds or rows of vegetables with old sheets or bedspreads or other cloth materials. Plants in a container can be brought inside before a frost, or you can protect individual plants by covering them with milk jugs, glass jars, paper cups, etc.

Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires thoughtful planning and good cultural practices. Many cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they mature during cool weather. August and September are the main planting times for a fall garden. For a more accurate planting schedule, determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall, and then count backward from the frost date, using the number of days to maturity to determine the best time to plant.

Before preparing the soil for a fall garden, if the spring crops were heavily fertilized, you may not need to make an initial preplant fertilization if using the same area. The Extension Office offers free soil sample detections to let you know what your soil needs before you plant your fall crops.

Strive to keep fall vegetables healthy and actively growing because healthy plants are less susceptible to insects and diseases. Water is still important to your plants and is best applied around the base of the plant rather than to the foliage. Use soaker hoses or hand water with a hose as opposed to a sprinkler. It is more important to water thoroughly than often. Apply water so that the soil is wet to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This should provide for the needs of the plant for about a week. Check the plants frequently for insect and disease damage. If significant damage is detected, use an approved pesticide. For more information on growing a "fall garden" contact the Pulaski County Extension Office.

Dr. Eli Capilouto, our President of the University of Kentucky, gives out such great advice to their employees. The following paragraphs are samples of his encouragement and support for our Pulaski County Extension Offices to follow and can be a motivator for any person that is concerned about the COVID-19 Virus.

It has been said that "the great use of life is to spend it on something that outlasts it." In so many ways, that is what we do at the University of Kentucky. But our success, our health and our well-being, will be determined by how we come together as a community -- today and every day over the next few months. We must protect one another. We must respect each other. And we must do our part. None of us is in this alone. None of us should be afraid of moments of doubt or concern. None of us should ever resist asking for help. "I have three questions I ask of myself, and our team, every day: Are we making it as easy as possible to be safe? Are we showing, in ways large and small and in everything we do, that we care? Are we doing what it takes, in everything we do, to help our community be successful? Living life in a way that outlasts us is not found only in discovering cures or celebrating unprecedented breakthroughs in labs or operating suites, classrooms or communities. It is demonstrating kindness when we know someone is hurting. It is offering help to those in need. It is doing what we can, with what we have, to ensure everyone who comes here feels accepted. We'll get through this together. Eli Capilouto. To our clients, farmers, homemakers, and others, when we can be of help to you, please reach out.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Don't forget to visit our local Farmers Markets. They are ready to serve you Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday's at the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market, and Wednesday and Saturday's at the Somerset Farmers Market. You will find lots of peppers and tomatoes at the Farmers Markets. If you are a pepper and tomato lover, you will enjoy this fresh sandwich.

Grilled Pepper and Portabella Mushroom Sandwich

1 large red bell pepper

1 large tomato

1 small sweet onion

16 fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 Portabella mushroom Caps, ¾ inch thick

4 whole wheat buns

4-1-ounce slices Mozzarella Cheese

4 Tablespoons Garlic hummus

Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat. Spray grill grid and grill skillet with cooking spray. Cut peppers in half; remove core and seeds. Cut lengthwise in ½ to 1-inch strips. Cut tomatoes and onion into ½ inch slices. Wash basil and remove stems. Whisk salt and pepper with olive oil. Brush both sides of mushroom caps with the seasoned oil. Place mushrooms on grill grate and cook until tender. Remove and keep warm. Brush pepper strips and onion slices with seasoned oil; put in grill skillet and place on hot grill. Cook until tender. Separate the buns and lightly brush halves with seasoned oil; place halves, oil side down, on grill grate; grill until warm with grill marks. On the bottom bun, add 1 slice mozzarella cheese. Heat until slightly melted. Remove from grill. On top of the cheese add one grilled mushroom cap, one tomato slice, one grilled onion, four grilled pepper strip and four basil leaves. Spread top half of bun with one tablespoon hummus and add to sandwich. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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