By Bob Labozetta (UC Master Gardener, Mariposa)
It’s 90 ℉ + outside. Yep, time to prepare your winter vegetable garden. WHAT?
Winter vegetable choices include beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chard, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions / shallots, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, spinach, turnips and other green leaves such as bok choy and kale.
The above vegetables can be sown directly in a prepared garden bed, and many of them can be purchased as seedlings in nurseries. Make a plan and make a list of the cool seasonal vegetables you like and grow well in your area or microclimate.
Then decide when each vegetable should be planted and when you should harvest your warm seasonal crops to make room for the winter crops. If you continue to plant beans, corn, cucumbers and squash during the hot months, you may not have room for your winter choices.
Although tomatoes will produce up to the first frost date, late tomatoes are not as tasty as previously picked and you may be better off just making one last harvest in late September or early October for the saucepan. Then pull them up and plant peas in that room, for example. You can use the same supports and add mesh for the peas to grow up.
Cool seasonal vegetables need some warm weather to get roots established and sufficient above-ground growth to cope with really cool weather. It is important to know when your first frost date is and when to so (in most cases) in relation to that date.
Follow these simple steps …
Step 1: Find your first fall frost date. Mariposa County includes several hardiness zones and microclimates. There are various resources to guide you to find the first frost date in your garden. Sample www.plantmaps.com and look for the interactive plant hardiness zone maps.
Step 2: Decide when to direct and set out transplants. Use autumn planting calculators such as Seeds for generations, Grow Organic or Johnny Seed Autumn Planting Calendars.
Step 3 (optional): Use a garden planner. Mother Earth News offers a comprehensive garden planner to help you find frost dates (first and last), design garden beds and compile a chart showing how many of each plant you should buy or grow from seed, the correct distance and recommended plant dates for your area . Print both the plan and the plant list for reference.
UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County serve Mariposa County, including Coulterville, Greeley Hill and Don Pedro. For information on gardening and events, call us at 209-966-7078 or email email@example.com.
Find us online at http://cemariopsa.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardener, on Facebook (UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County), and so on Youtube at “UCCE Mariposa”. Listen to us KRYZ 98.5 FM radio Wednesdays at 2 pm and Saturdays at 5 pm