Fall Garden 2019 Observations

The page covers from the planting in the late summer 2019 to the final harvest of cabbage in March 2020.

Weather Impacts

  • August was a very wet month with over 11″ of rain through the 26th.
  • From then until October 12, when 1.2″ fell, was a brief shower of 0.4″.
  • 10/12/2019 – Once the drought ended it rained regularly with October getting about 10″.
  • Due to the high soil temps many things that should have been planted in September were not planted. The winter squash–watered daily–has small fruit but only two 30-ft rows of both mustard and cabbage were planted due to the soil temps being in the mid-’90s during the day when the ambient air temps were in the low-’90s. The mid-October freeze did them in.
  • 11/12-13/2019 – Hard winds of 20-35 MPH for a day before the hard freeze on 11/13 together killed all squash, tomatoes, and tomatillos. The wind beat up the daikon radish and tiny beats.
  • 11/14/2019 – Soil temps made a drastic drop from the high 80’s/low 90s to the low 50s in three days.
  • Late Nov through February 2020 saw fronts every 4-6 days with some rain and a repeating 2-3 frosty mornings.
  • From December through February was wet with rains every 3-5 days. This was the time the pond was begin dug. Then in March it quit raining.

Beets

  • Ruby Queen Beet germination is spotty and about 50%.
    • Soil temp was on the high side but not above the max.
    • IFAS says seeds “require ample moisture at seeding or poor germination will result.”
    • IFAS does not include Ruby Queen in the suggested varieties.
    • For the hard freeze on 11/14/2019, we protected 25′ of the first row with burlap where 1″ high seedlings with two leaves were standing up. Used 1″ and 3/4″ PVC pipes anchored beside the flimsy seedlings to hold the burlap above them. The pipes seemed to work ok.
    • The few that germinated only grew to 6-8″ tall and only one small root. They had been fed MG once or twice.
  • Next year – Per Harvesttotable.com
    • stamp the soil firmly in; beets often fail to germinate when there is insufficient contact with the soil.
    • Pre-soaking the seed in water before sowing can aide germination; soaking loosens the seed coat which contains a germination inhibiting chemical.
    • To improve germination sow seed at dusk or on a cool, cloudy day.
    • Try a variety recommended by IFAS.

Brocolli

  • De Cicco
    • Very poor germination; i.e. only a few came up in two 25′ rows.
  • Waltham 29
    • Germination was slow but eventually, we had a fair stand.
    • February 2020 there are small heads

Cabbage

  • Early Jersey Wakefield
    • Planted the first 30 feet later than intended due to the September drought and high soil temps.
    • Had good germination. Transplanting the ones to thin into the EFD rows worked well.
    • From January to February 2020 they filled out and heads began forming. In March we harvested 40+ small to large heads that were firm. About 20 more were still maturing when the area had to be planted in corn.
    • Plant this variety next year.
  • Early Flat Dutch – Poor germination.
    • Variety is recommended by IFAS.
    • Four weeks after planting we had a hard frost.
    • Only got three heads. They were dense and had a sweet taste. Made two 1/2-gallon jars of our carrot-dill ferment here.

Carrots

Nante’s Carrots & April Cross Radish
  • Nantes Scarlet Carrot – Planted when soil temp was good but still slow to germinate although that is the way carrots are…they say.
  • Rainbow Carrot – Only a few finally came up a month after planting when the soil had cooled a lot.
  • Next year try germination tricks.
  • 2/29/2020 – The Nantes Carrots only had about a 50% germination but we should have soaked them. We did plant the on top of the ground to get light. The greens were small and the entire time they were growing slowly we were pessimistic. But, when we pulled them to see if they had done anything, we found a good crop of short stubby Nantes carrots. Will plant them again.

Lettuce

  • First planting was ButterCrunch and was within the soil temp range. Germination was good.
  • The tiny first two leaves were not frozen by the hard freeze on 11/14/2019.
  • By the end February 2020 they were still less than 5″ tall but had a good flavor.
  • See for possible problems/solutions – https://harvesttotable.com/lettuce_growing_problems_troub/
  • Next Year – Plan a wide variety of types and colors.

Leeks, King Richard

  • Planted when soil temp was in a good range and germination was ok.
  • None survived. See next bullet. If plant them again then it would be in early spring???
  • King Richard is a newer leek variety that grows well throughout the United States. This leek variety is a summer type, non-bulbing leek that grows to 12- in length. King Richard has green leaves with white inside. This leek is a very early maturer and is not sufficient for overwinter growing. From UrbanFarmerSeeds.com

Mustard

  • Florida Broadleaf
    • Planted the first 30 feet later than intended due to the drought.
    • The 3″-5″ leaves were not frozen by the hard freeze on 11/14/2019.
    • Enjoyed them through February 24, 2020 when the large full leaves were 2 feet tall and we mowed them down and disked them in with the adjacent elbon rye.
    • Very prolific and plan to plant next year. But, keep in mind we liked Swiss Chard better than the mustard. We had far too much mustard this year.
  • Tendergreen – Very poor germination. In the end some came up and when they were mowed/disked they had all bolted. Do not plan to try these again.

Radishes

April Cross, 2/29/20
  • Daikon Radish
    • Germination was good
    • The 3-4″ plants were not frozen by the hard freeze on 11/14/2019.
    • Enjoyed good production into March 2020.
  • April Cross
    • Germination was good
    • The tiny first two leaves were not frozen by the hard freeze on 11/14/2019.
    • OK production with a root that was skinner than daikon but tasted essentially the same.

Spinach

  • Being late due to hot dry September through the first week of Oct. we planted the first two varieties with still high soil temps (but no longer in the 90s) to see how they would do. Clearly, they did not germinate so should not plant spinach when the soil temps are in the 80s.
  • Corvair – Planted first when soil temps were in the high 80’s when the max for spinach some say is there but other advice is max is 75. There was very little if any germination.
  • Emperor – First planting did not germinate. Soil temp was also too high in the high 80s;
  • Space – Planted 11/13/19 with a soil temp of 51 F. Spotty germination in half the row.
  • Black Seeded Simpson – No germination when planted while the soil was too hot.
  • Arctic King – total failure
  • Conclusion – Next year work on pre-germination tricks and feeding.

Swiss Chard

  • Germination was ok.
  • For the hard freeze on 11/14/2019, we protected 25′ of the first row with burlap where 1″ high seedlings with two leaves were standing up. Used 1″ and 3/4″ PVC pipes anchored beside the seedlings to hold the burlap above them. The pipes seemed to work ok. After the frost, could not tell if the covered did better later than the uncovered.
  • By the end of February 2020, they were about 6-8″ tall with gaps between the plants.
  • We liked the flavor and plan to plant more and less mustard.

Tomatoes

  • Celebrity
    • Seedlings grew well and with no fungus, no bug damage with a few 2-1/2″ and smaller tomatoes as of the hard freeze on 10/31.
  • Romas
    • Seedlings we grew were healthy and blooming by 10/25. Only one very small fruit when froze on 10/31/19.
  • Tomatillos
    • Seedlings we grew transplanted well and had a few small fruits when froze.
  • Hard Freeze on 10/31/2019 killed all plants. Need to start seedlings in July and put out in August.

Winter Squash

  • Aug. 18, 2019 – Prepared individual hills about 6″ high by hand–that worked well. Spacing that worked was:
    • 4 feet from the grass garden edge
      • Cucumbers – 3 hills 3 ft apart
      • Sugar Pie Pumpkins – 2 hills 5 ft apart
      • Table Ace Acorn Squash – 4 hills 7 ft apart
    • Next Row, 8 ft from the first row:
      • Vegetable Spaghetti Squash – 7 hills, 5 ft apart
      • Waltham Butternut Squash – 12 hills 2 ft apart.
  • All the squash germinated well and new leaves were showing within 5 days. With daily water during the September drought, they vined and bloomed. Side dressed them when they started vining, Decided to not repeat the side dressing when they started blooming as they are dark green and are planted where the spring garden peas grew.
  • The cucumbers were the same as planted in the spring and were then prolific. These finally germinated and grew small plants with no runners. Soil temp must have been too high–high 80s to low 90’s.
  • Several small areas of fungal damage were not addressed until too late and the vines lost a lot of leaves.
  • Hard Freeze on 11/13/2019 killed all plants. We picked all fruit the day before except for two small green pumpkins. Picked them early on 11/14.
  • Need to plant all squash at least a month sooner regardless of the rain and temps to allow for maturing of fruit.
  • Find another acorn squash that is not a hybrid.
  • The Waltham Butternut, Vegetable Spaghetti Squash and Sugar Pie Pumpkins did well and should be replanted.

Elbon Rye for the Cover Crop

  • The Elbon Rye was the second-best producer in the fall/winter garden, surpassed only by the Florida Broadleaf Mustard.
  • Ranger, Mary’s horse acquired in 2019, enjoyed eating it for a couple of hours every day as his field did not have much growing.
  • the rye was in the south half and about 20 feet on the west and east side of the north half.
  • The two north half plots were disked in on 2/23/2020 to decomposed for corn and tomatoes in mid-March.

Mary’s Yard Garden

  • Bonnies Chinese cabbage did well.
  • Rainbow swiss chard seeds came up and small leaves were enjoyed. Need to plant more.
  • Onion sets did as expected
  • One flat-leaf parsley plant that survived from last summer kept going.
  • Bonnies Cilantro produced well but we had to clip bolting back regularly.
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