October 13, has just passed and I guess we are officially in fall, so why is the temperature still in the 90’s? Because we live in PHOENIX AZ, that is why! Yes it’s still warm, but we are also blessed because we can grow a garden all through the winter. Try that in Chicago.
If this is your first try at fall and winter gardening it is imperative to address the area you plan to use as your garden. For the purpose of this article I will assume that we are planting directly into the ground. (Not using raised beds, which we will discuss at a later time.)
It is recommended that the bed have organic matter added as well as sand to help with the soil structure and porosity. Add a wood based mulch at a rate of 2 to 4 inches over the surface if the garden. Do the same with the sand at a rate of 1 to 2 inches. Now work the materials into the soil at a depth of 6 to 8 inches. While you are putting in the items for soil structure it is a great time to add some organic nutrients like blood meal 2 lbs per 100 sq ft and bone meal 2 to 4 lbs per 100 sq ft. A nonorganic fertilizer to use that will give you good result is ammonium phosphate 16-20-0 incorporated at a rate of 2 lbs per 100sq ft. Other amendments to add are soil sulfur 2 to 4 lbs per 100sq ft or gypsum, 10 to 20 lbs per 100 sq ft.
If you use manure as the mulch base (which I don’t advise), make sure you flush the garden area several times to wash out the salts before planting, also I would suggest that the manure be added 2 months or more before planting, giving it time to decompose and remove some of the salts.
Not all vegetables can be grown in the fall, but you can get some great results from items such as lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts and root crops like carrots, beets, radishes and onions.
It is true that good gardeners grow tomatoes starting in the fall. To achieve this you must find a warm spot in the garden or build a small structure to cover the plants in the cold nights of winter, giving them protection from frost and freezes.
With good soil preparation and planting of the right crops fall gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors this fall.
If you have any questions call me at the nursery 623/566-2248