Fall Growing in
Growing Beetroot Tips:
- Sunlight Requirements: Beets thrive with about 6 hours of daily sun exposure, though they can tolerate some shade.
- Planting Locations: Choose between planting beets in the vegetable bed, raised planting beds, or large containers, depending on your desired harvest quantity.
- Soil Preparation: Beets prefer light, loamy soil free of rocks, clods, or debris. Prepare the garden bed by incorporating compost and well-aged manure while maintaining soil lightness to prevent compaction.
- Moisture Management: Plan for drip irrigation or a soaker hose to ensure consistent and even soil moisture, as beets require soft soil for germination and sprouting.
- Planting Time: Sow beet seeds when the soil becomes workable in early spring and late summer to early fall, typically when soil temperatures range from 40-45 degrees. Rinse or soak seeds in warm water before planting to aid germination.
- Planting Depth: Plant beet seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in a row, lightly covering them with soil.
- Aeration and Soil Protection: To maintain soil aeration, cover the planting area with floating row cover cloth or burlap, using proper sealing methods. Leave the cover cloth in place or stretch it over short hoops for added protection and pest prevention.
- Thinning: Thin the plants twice to prevent overcrowding and ensure healthy root development. When plants are 2 inches tall, thin to 1 ½ inches apart. Later, when greens are 3 to 4 inches tall and root tops measure about 1 to 2 inches in diameter, dig up every other one, leaving 4 inches between beets.
- Moisture Maintenance: Keep soil evenly and consistently moist. As beets continue to grow, ensure that beet shoulders remain covered with soil to prevent drying out.
- Fertilization: Apply a well-balanced fertilizer 4 to 6 weeks after planting. Sprinkle the fertilizer on both sides of the rows, away from the roots, and rake it into the soil before watering.
Planting and Caring for Eggplant
Growing Eggplant Tips:
- Soil Preparation: Locate the sunniest and warmest spot in your garden, amending the soil with compost, well-aged manure, or organic soil amendments.
- Container Gardening: Eggplant can thrive in large containers, providing better control over soil fertility.
- Fertilization: Plan on fertilizing eggplant plants approximately once a month throughout the season to increase yields.
- Transplant Preparation: If starting eggplant transplants from seed, allow at least two months from germination to transplant size, providing bottom heat and ample lighting for optimal growth.
- Transplant Selection: When buying transplants, select plants that are 6 to 7 inches tall, without flowers or fruit. Keep transplants in a warm location until the risk of frost has passed.
- Plant Spacing: Space eggplant plants 18 to 30 inches apart, with rows at least 24 inches apart. Add support to each plant, such as a tomato cage, after planting.
- Watering System: Install a drip irrigation system or soaker hose for consistent and deep watering.
- Mulching: Use organic mulch like straw or dry shredded leaves to retain soil moisture and reduce the need for weeding.
- Sidedressing: As plants grow, sidedress with a well-balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) by sprinkling it between plant rows, 12 inches away from the base of the plants. Water in.
Growing Cucumber Tips:
- Soil Preparation: Prepare well-draining, nutrient-rich soil for cucumber growth, amending it with compost, well-aged manure, or other organic soil enhancements.
- Container Gardening: Cucumbers can also be grown effectively in raised beds, particularly for gardeners dealing with clay soil.
- Planting Time: Wait for warm days and nights before planting cucumber seeds or transplants, ensuring that soil temperatures are at least 70 degrees and nighttime temperatures consistently reach 55 degrees.
- Seed Preparation: Soak cucumber seeds overnight to expedite germination before planting.
- Planting Depth and Spacing: Plant cucumber seeds ½ inch deep and space them 3 to 4 inches apart in rows or hills. Maintain row spacing of at least 36 inches. For container gardening, keep seeds around the container's edge, maintaining similar spacing.
- Watering System: Due to their high water needs, set up a soaker hose or drip irrigation system for cucumbers. Water at the soil level while trying to keep the leaves dry.
- Thinning: When cucumber seeds sprout, thin plants to a spacing of 10 inches or more to prevent overcrowding. Train vines to grow up a trellis for blemish-free cucumbers.
- Fertilization: Sidedress cucumbers with a dry, well-balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) between plant rows, 12 inches away from the plant base. Water the fertilizer in.
- Moisture Management: Consistent and sufficient watering is crucial, especially during hot weather and when plants are flowering and fruiting. Dry conditions may lead to poor fruit yield and blossom-end rot.
- Pollination: Monitor for signs of inadequate pollination, such as dropped flowers or misshapen fruits. If pollination is not occurring naturally, cucumbers respond well to hand pollination. Cucumbers are also sensitive to environmental stresses, so maintain consistent watering and fertilization.
- Pest Control: If insect issues arise, cover the plants with row cover cloth until vines begin to flower, protecting them from pests.
- Plant Disposal: If vines dry up and wither, it's advisable to remove and dispose of the plant.
Tips for Growing Spinach Year-Round:
- Soil and Sunlight: Spinach grows best in average, well-drained soil and thrives in full sun.
- Planting Method: Plant spinach seeds evenly in rows that are spaced 1-2 feet apart.
- Seed Depth: Cover the seeds with a layer of fine soil approximately ½ inch deep. Firm the soil gently.
- Thinning: When spinach seedlings reach a height of 1-2 inches, thin them to a spacing of 6 inches apart. This step helps prevent overcrowding and ensures healthy growth.
- Watering: During hot and dry weather, it's essential to keep spinach plants well-watered to promote rapid growth. Ensure that the plants receive at least one inch of water per week.