Master Gardeners get insight on a garden for all season

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The weather is still hot, but local gardeners’ thoughts are already turning to the cooler months of fall and winter.

The Chilton County Master Gardeners received advice and best practices for fall vegetable gardens and care from Lee and Amanda Borden during its July 11 meeting at the Jemison Municipal Complex.

Lee Borden said unlike other states, soil in Alabama does not need to remain dormant.

“Our soil is active and moving and growing and changing every day,” Lee Borden said. “The way we keep rich soil is by having something grow on it every day of the year.”

“Heat loving vegetables” will continue to grow in late summer, but be killed by a 31- to 33-degree frost.

Benefits of fall gardens were listed as fewer weeds and bugs as well as “more pleasant to be outside.”  Another benefit was being able to have fresh vegetables year-round.

Vegetables that do well in cooler weather can be planted July through January, depending on the plant. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems publication “Planting Guide for home Gardening in Alabama” was recommended as a resource. Gardeners were encouraged to rotate their crops.

Some vegetables that do really well in surviving cold weather, according to the Bordens, are beets, Brussel sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley and spinach. Lee said there are some plants that will do fine even at 14 degrees. Amanda said altitude and other factors do impact this.

For those not wanting to care for a garden in the colder months, cover crops can be planted to replenish the soil. Lupin, crimson clover and Daikon radish were mentioned as good options. Amanda Borden said oats can also be planted as a cover crop.

Sunn hemp is a good cover crop in warmer temperatures.

“The wonderful thing about Sunn hemp … it is a legume. It does set nitrogen and it sets these magnificent root channels,” Lee Borden said. “When you cut it off at that soil that [root] is going to create some biomass not only on the surface … but also imbedded in the soil.”

Amanda Borden said the hemp can also be dried to be used as mulch. The hemp will die with the first frost.