It’s Time to Plant Broccoli, Cabbage and Beets!
Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant Specialist
Planting fall vegetables makes me nostalgic for my childhood when I’d run around growing, harvesting, canning and preserving fresh vegetables. Even today I simply cannot be without them!
The end of August and early September is the best time to transplant fall vegetables from seedlings to the garden to harvest in October. This week I planted broccoli, cabbage and beets. Here are the steps you can follow to plant your own fall vegetable garden!
Prepare Your Soil
Clear away your finished summer vegetables in a sun to part-shade location. I planted these directly in the in-ground beds, but a raised bed or container garden would work just as well. Once your area is clear, add an organic planting mix to your existing soil. I recommend either the Coast of Main or Pro Mix Ultimate additives. Once your additive is mixed, sprinkle your fertilizer onto your prepared soil. Garden-tone Herb & Vegetable Food is one of my favorites.
Select Your Plants
It’s too late to begin from seeds at this point in the season so I’ve chosen to begin with young seedlings so they have time to produce fully before the October harvest. If you’ve started your own seeds already, bring them out to the garden now to transplant.
Dig your holes a few inches deep to create enough vertical space for your root ball to be in the ground, but your stems above ground. Gently loosen the outside roots, place your seedling and firmly press the soil around the roots.
One of my favorite parts of vegetable planting is that it’s not always necessary to have your ducks in a row! Feel free to tuck your vegetables in among your existing plants wherever you have space in your garden.
Once your plants are tucked into place, cover the soil with mulch to hold in moisture and prevent weeds. In my garden I used Virginia Fine pine mulch, about one inch deep. I then topped it with pine straw for an extra layer of protection and to tie into the aesthetic of the rest of my garden. I personally love working with pine straw because it’s lightweight and easy to lift and move around.
Watering and Harvesting Your Vegetables
Once your plants are tucked in and topped with mulch, water them thoroughly. Be careful not to overwater. I check my plants every couple of days by peeling back the pine straw and mulch and feeling the soil. If the soil is dry, it’s time to thoroughly soak the new plantings again. While cabbage and broccoli need the warm weather to grow, they often attract moth larvae. If you run into any issues with moth larvae, treat the plantings with an organic spray, such as Thuricide.
How do you know when it’s time to harvest? Monitor the size of your cabbage and broccoli head to see when they’re ready. When they’re large and rich in color, cut the top off only as the plant will sometimes produce a side shoot. Your root veggies, such as your beets will show the top of their plantings at the surface when they’re ready to harvest.
Fall is the prime time to plant root and leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, kale, turnips, Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, and onions. Stay tuned as we enter the fall season and add the leafy and root vegetable compliments to our gardens!