Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

042 Cool Season Garden Basics

August 31, 2020 Fred Hoffman Season 1 Episode 42
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
042 Cool Season Garden Basics
Chapters
00:01:35
Cool Season Garden Basics
00:15:00
Smart Pots!
00:16:02
Cool Season Garden Basics, Part 2
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
042 Cool Season Garden Basics
Aug 31, 2020 Season 1 Episode 42
Fred Hoffman

Many gardeners are still enjoying the summer vegetable garden. But get ready…the days will be getting shorter and cooler this month and those vegetables may start to go into decline. Now is time to be planning and planting your second garden of 2020, the fall and winter vegetable garden. Our favorite college horticulture professor (retired), Debbie Flower, has tips for getting your lettuce, spinach, Swiss Chard (pictured), cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, snow peas, fava beans, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, parsnips, shallots and turnips started….if you live in the right zone. We explain the USDA plant hardiness zone maps as well as cold frame basics (for those of you who own snow shovels). Today's episode is presented by Smart Pots, the original, lightweight, long-lasting fabric plant container, made in the USA. Visit SmartPots.com/fred for more information and a special discount.
We learn something new, every time, on Garden Basics with Farmer Fred. And we will do it again today in Episode 42, "Cool Season Garden Basics". And we will do it all in under 30 minutes.

Links
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Fall/Winter Vegetable Garden Varieties for USDA Zone 9
Charley's Greenhouse and Garden
Vent Openers (wax hinges)
Frost Cloth
Row Covers

More info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Many gardeners are still enjoying the summer vegetable garden. But get ready…the days will be getting shorter and cooler this month and those vegetables may start to go into decline. Now is time to be planning and planting your second garden of 2020, the fall and winter vegetable garden. Our favorite college horticulture professor (retired), Debbie Flower, has tips for getting your lettuce, spinach, Swiss Chard (pictured), cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, snow peas, fava beans, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, parsnips, shallots and turnips started….if you live in the right zone. We explain the USDA plant hardiness zone maps as well as cold frame basics (for those of you who own snow shovels). Today's episode is presented by Smart Pots, the original, lightweight, long-lasting fabric plant container, made in the USA. Visit SmartPots.com/fred for more information and a special discount.
We learn something new, every time, on Garden Basics with Farmer Fred. And we will do it again today in Episode 42, "Cool Season Garden Basics". And we will do it all in under 30 minutes.

Links
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Fall/Winter Vegetable Garden Varieties for USDA Zone 9
Charley's Greenhouse and Garden
Vent Openers (wax hinges)
Frost Cloth
Row Covers

More info including live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred.

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found.

Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook:  "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube

Farmer Fred :

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred is brought to you by Smart Pots, the original lightweight, long lasting fabric plant container. it's made in the USA, visit Smart Pots.com slash Fred for more information and a special discount. that's smart pots.com slash Fred. Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information, well you've come to the right spot. September is here. Many of you are still enjoying your summer vegetable garden, but get ready. The days are getting shorter and they're getting cooler and those plants may start to go into decline. So now's the time to be planning and planting your second garden of 2020 the fall and winter vegetable garden. Our favorite college horticulture Professor retired Debbie Flower has tips for getting your lettuce spinach, chard, cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, cilantro, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, snow peas, fava beans, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, parsnips, shallots and turnips started...if you live in the right zone. we explain the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone maps, as well as cold frame basics...for those of you who might own a snow shovel. We learn something new every time on Garden Basics with Farmer Fred. And we'll do it again today in Episode 42, cool season garden basics. And we'll do it all in under 30 minutes. Let's go. It's always a pleasure to talk with Debbie Flower our favorite retired college horticultural professor and Debbie we're at that time of year we're in many parts of the country people are thinking, well, it's time to put the old summer garden at least slow it down. If not put it to bed. Maybe take out those plants and put in some cool season fall and winter. vegetables. And what's nifty, too, is much of the country can be doing this. I mean, in the colder parts of the country, you need a little bit of help, but it can be done right?

Debbie Flower :

It sure can be done. It can be done in parts of the country very simply by taking out the existing crop, revitalizing the soil with some organic matter, maybe an inch or so, and letting that fall down in through your through your garden and then replanting with plants that you buy at the nursery or seeds that you buy and or that you've saved from previous years and plant those. In other parts of the country where it gets cold too soon for a crop to be to come to maturity and for you to be able to harvest it. Then you need what are called season extenders, which are typically covers, frost fabric or low tunnels over the garden to trap some of the heat that's provided by the sun but dissipates at night. And then you extend your season long enough to have that crop come to maturity.

Farmer Fred :

And if you're really nifty, you could have yourself a nice cold frame. And if you have raised beds, that's pretty easy to do, you can just attach some sort of opaque or clear cover to that top of that raised bed.

Debbie Flower :

Yes. And be sure to have some ventilation. If you're using a plastic of any sort. You sort of have ventilation, it can get surprisingly warm under that plastic even on a winter day, especially if you're in a place where it's very snowy and then you get the beautiful, crisp, clear days. And light will actually reflect off of the snow as well. It can be incredibly warm under that plastic. So you do need ventilation, you do need control.

Farmer Fred :

Well, that brings up a very good question. If you're putting in a cold frame, which way should it point?

Debbie Flower :

it typically would point South. the sun in the US drops into the southern sky. If you can't do south, try West. When you want it to slant, a classic way to make a cold frame is to make about a 45 degree angle frame that would go across your existing raised bed and the lower part of the 45 degrees is down at the southern end and then it goes up from there and cover it with old windows. There is such a thing as a wax hinge. It's used in greenhouses very commonly. And it opens when the temperature gets to a certain point and it closes again so it lifts the windows and it closes again when the temperatures drop. You may need depending on the weight of those windows you may need more than one wax hinge are the size of the of your raised bed and how much area you have covered. But it's worth looking into. I had a cold frame in my Portland garden and it faced south and I worked full time. And I don't know how many times I had to call my wonderful retired, neighbor and ask him to go out and open my window just a little bit just enough for airflow but open the window on my cold frame. That was before I knew about and had the wherewithal to get myself some of those wax hinges. Now, I have one in stock, and we'll use it as needed.

Farmer Fred :

And if you want more information about these, and they're basically automatic window openers, but they work with the heat of the sun to open it, you can go to any good greenhouse catalog and get more information about it. And I know Charley's greenhouse and garden up in the state of Washington carries all those supplies as well. So you can check that out. Yeah, for more information about these openers that we're talking about, or you just go out on every day that it's sunny, and you prop that window or panel open. Right?

Debbie Flower :

Right. If you're around to do that and remember it, yes. Or if you can do it manually. And then of course There is frost cloth, which limits the light that gets in but once your crop is up and growing, it allows it to survive through the cold periods. So that is another option. And that does not need to be taken off water and air and a little bit of light can can go through the frost cloth. So that's another option to protect your sensitive plants from a cold spell, right.

Farmer Fred :

So if you go online looking for these devices we're talking about, they're usually called vent openers.

Debbie Flower :

So the wax hinge is called a vent opener.

Farmer Fred :

Okay, and do a search for that. And that'll help you out. Now for those of us lucky enough to live in an area where we don't necessarily have to worry about extended freezes. There are plenty of great winter vegetables that can go in the ground this time of year aren't there.

Debbie Flower :

Oh, there's a huge list. Yes.

Farmer Fred :

And September, October for much of California is the time to be putting those in and probably for most of the West and in fact, actually all around the country, you could be putting all of these in. It's just that the people back east or up north may be harvesting them much sooner than we would be. Right?

Debbie Flower :

Well, if you're in the very far north, very coldest parts of the country probably can only get one crop out of your garden because your last frost in spring and your first frost and fall are only 60 or 90 days apart. You need so the way you decide if you can grow something in your garden is is figuring out how many days you have between now whenever now is when you're going to plant your fall garden and your estimated first frost in the fall. I've been looking around on references about first frost in the fall, and there are many, many of them online and they vary a little bit. They usually rely on you knowing your USDA which is US Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone, the USDA made this map. I don't know when the first one came out. It's been revised over time. It's only available now on the internet, as far as I know, because I used to post it when I could get a hard copy. I would post a picture of it in the classroom. It's often showed up in the just inside the front cover of a horticulture textbook. But that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Now they just seem to be online. But all of that the only thing that shows you is the average low temperature in the period of time and it's usually 10 years that they have been. The last one I'm looking at was average annual extreme minimum temperature between 1976 and 2005. There is a 2012 version and I don't know why that one did not come up for me. So they edited the math since 2005, for good reason. So they want you to know what your USDA zone is and then based on that zone, people predict when your average first frost in the fall would be. And the frost they're talking about is when the temperatures get 28 degrees Fahrenheit or below. It's not 32. 32 is when water freezes. But 28 is when the contents of actively growing plant cell freeze, that's what we're worried about.

Farmer Fred :

And that would have to be an extended 28 degrees or lower, you know, for citrus out here in California, if that figure holds true 28 degrees, but it's for periods of four hours or more.

Debbie Flower :

right into it just typically is not doing a lot of active growth. Something like lettuce might be putting on, you know, brand new leaves and it's full of water. And and so if you hit 28 degrees for one hour, that might harm the lettuce. the lettuce that gets to the back of the refrigerator and then you pull it out and it's totally mush, that's what's happened to it. It has reached 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Farmer Fred :

So let's talk about the hardiness of various cool season vegetables, I would think the ones most prone to frost or freeze damage would be the fruiting varieties, like broccoli or cauliflower. And then next up would be the leaf varieties lettuce and spinach and chard, and probably the most hardy that you could grow just about anywhere, for their entire lifespan would be root crops.

Debbie Flower :

root crops are certainly more protected from cold than then things that produce what we eat above ground like the the greens and the broccoli, as you mentioned, and that's because they're insulated by the soil that's around them. So it would depend if you're growing in the ground, not raised bed, but in the ground, that's where it would be most tolerant of cold. Next would be if you have a raised bed and you use field soil in that raised bed and the raised bed has some size. A typical raised bed is four feet by eight feet. And it depends how much or little you have raised it for its height. After that, if you're just growing in containers, wine barrels, very large containers, small containers, the amount and you're using containers soil, which is not field soil, the size of the container is going to be very critical in determining how much insulation that plant will get. The benefit though of a container is that you can cover the whole container all the way down to the ground, the container as well as the plant and so you can get some insulation that way.

Farmer Fred :

And if your children are football players, they can move the container next to the house if it gets really cold.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, that's true. And that's something to think about. I put many of my containers on rollers, just for that reason so I can move them around myself, but it's a little bit of an investment to get a quality rolling base with big Enough wheels that can handle the weight of a big wine barrel full of a plant media and water. So it's taken me years to collect bases for my container cartons.

Farmer Fred :

Yes, somewhere on a blooper reel, there's video of me installing wheels on a half barrel and then demonstrating rolling it on the wheels and the whole thing collapsed.

Debbie Flower :

Oh my goodness because the wheels are a good idea because those bases and those, the bottoms of those wine barrels are very thick I you have to drill if you're gonna use them for growing you have to drill drainage holes in them there are no drainage holes and the wood swells up so water cannot exit and it's quite thick. It took me a long time to get the drill to go through that wood. I'm surprised it fell apart.

Farmer Fred :

I'm not. the wheels weren't big enough and we came to the conclusion if you're using half barrels and you want them to be portable, Put them on furniture dollies. and roll them around that way.

Debbie Flower :

Very good. Yes. And you could probably make your own furniture dollies with with wood structure and buying the correct size wheels, bigger wheels or better. Yep. But then of course you may also want to put a brake on that wheel depending on if it's on a hill or patio, or whatever. Yeah.

Farmer Fred :

All right. And by the way, getting back to growing things in barrels, and those drainage holes; very important: I like to drill four or five, three quarter inch or one inch drain holes in the bottom of the barrels. It's amazing the number of people I've come across who think they don't need drain holes because it'll just either go between the cracks and out or or the wood will evaporate it.

Debbie Flower :

Right that I agree. those are some thoughts that I've come across as well and it is good to know that you have to drill those holes. The other question that people are going to ask you is how do you keep your media from falling out of those big holes?

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, they do ask that.

Debbie Flower :

What is your answer?

Farmer Fred :

I like to put down a few sheets of newspaper, not a lot of newspaper but four or five sheets of newspaper on the bottom. Then put in your media, your soilless mix or whatever potting mix you're using. And then by the time it deteriorates, the soil has managed to, I won't say solidify, but at least be less inclined to clog up those holes.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, right. It sort of knits together.

Farmer Fred :

Yes. And you helped to what would you use?

Debbie Flower :

Same or nothing. Okay, sometimes I just just pour it in. Some of the media goes out the bottom, I sweep it up and reuse that media someplace else. But typically, once it's been filled, planted and watered, there's very little drop out of the bottom. And if there is some Oh, well, that doesn't concern me. Too much.

Farmer Fred :

We're glad to have Smart Pots on board, supporting the Garden Basics podcast. Smart Pots are the original, award-winning fabric planter. They're sold worldwide. Smart Pots are proudly made 100% in the USA. I'm pretty picky about who I allowed to advertise on this program. My criteria, though, is pretty simple. It has to be a product I like; a product I use; a product I would buy again. And Smart Pots clicks all those boxes. They're durable. They're reusable. Smart Pots are available at independent garden centers and select Ace and true value stores nationwide. To find a store near you visit smart pots.com slash Fred. It's Smart Pots, the original award winning fabric planter. Go to smart pots.com slash Fred for more info and that special farmer Fred discount on your next smart pot purchase. Go to smart pots.com slash Fred. Let's get back to our conversation with college horticulture Professor Debbie Flower about starting your cool season garden.

Debbie Flower :

If you want to figure out what when to plant your fall garden for your very location, get to know your USDA climate zone and you can get on the internet and assess and there are places that will actually ask you to put in your zip code and they will tell you and then look at the seed packets for those, the fall crops. And it'll say that yours matures in X number of days. peas are 45 days, radish are very quick 35 days, they're in and out of the ground from seed. spinach just 45 days and you get up to 60 days with some of the greens like bok choy and Swiss chard and collards. And then from there it takes longer to get other crops. So If you are that many days out 45 days for peas. if you have 45 days between now and when you get your first frost on average, then you could have a pea crop between now and then. So buy them and plant them. So it takes it can take a little bit of math, but there are also lots of references online and a good quality nursery person would know that the answers to when your first frost is what your USDA zone is and what crops you likely can grow from seed. But now's the time, August-September for probably zones 6-7-8 and 9, there are crops for you to plant now.

Farmer Fred :

Why don't you go through the USDA map and give us a general idea of who's who when it comes to zones?

Debbie Flower :

It's kind of a bowl with the West Coast, Washington, Oregon, California even Nevada are in the zone 7-8-9 region. And that continues down in the southern part of the country all the way up. So Texas and Florida even goes higher. There are some places in Florida that get no freeze at all. And as you go into Texas and Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, into the Carolinas, you're still in that 7-8-9. You get up into zone six in Virginia, Kentucky, across to Arkansas, and up the east coast in New York and New Jersey. Close the parts that are in Rhode Island, and in parts of Massachusetts that are closest to the Atlantic Ocean are zone sixes. So those places it's kind of a line across the country. It's really hard because it's a bowl. So you need to get a gander at that map. It's at the USDA, just put in Plant Hardiness Zone map, USDA zone map that would probably bring up the map for you. And you can see looking at that picture, what zone you are, it's color coded. So if you're colorblind, and I know people are, it's not your fault. It's just the way it is. Have somebody else look at it for you, or ask a good nursery person.

Farmer Fred :

I think nurseries are an answer to a lot of questions, In this regard. You may not even have to look at maps if you're buying transplants and not seeds. And the time to buy transplants is when they're at your locally owned nursery. Don't be fooled by what you find in the box stores, go to your local nursery. They're going to have the plants at the right time for you to be planting whatever your locale is.

Debbie Flower :

That's very, very true. They want you to be successful. Your locally owned nursery. The Independent nursery wants you to be successful and they're going to have the plants there when it's a good time. Time to plant them. big box stores don't have the same motivation don't have the same lines of supply. So they often have things I've been amazed at the things I've seen that are not for your zone at all or not for planting at that time in your zone.

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, when it comes to this, go to your local nursery. Absolutely. There's no question about that. One point I'd like to make about planting root crops and helping insulate them from the cold. We forgot to mention mulch and putting on putting down in around your carrots or parsnips or whatever root crops you're growing, potatoes putting down four inches of a coarse organic mulch can be very beneficial to insulating it and protecting it by another four or five degrees.

Debbie Flower :

It will slow down the freeze but it cannot prevent it.

Farmer Fred :

What a spoilsport you are!

Debbie Flower :

well I was confused by that years ago and and you know, I'm a researcher by trade. I looked into that the thing that I came up for me was roses. roses in very cold climates is recommended that you mulch your roses deeply. But and I just didn't understand why you're covering the plant completely in mulch, or the parts that you're covering are the only parts that live there may be other parts that stick out. One thing it is it is preventing seizing, heaving is when you have bare soil, no mulch on it. And water gets into it rain, snow, whatever. And the water in it gets very cold in the water freezes and it turns to ice and ice is structurally bigger than water. And so it takes up more room and it pushes the soil around and that then it melts again. And the soil crest has now cracked because it's made the ice is made the holes in it. And this process of freezing and thawing can actually cause a plant to come right out of the ground. And that's called heat. And if you most the soil Instead, it slows down the process of freezing and it slows down the process of warming up. And it can totally in some cases, if it's deep enough, prevent heave. The other thing it does for a rose in particular, is it keeps it from drying out. cold air is very, very, very dry. air is drier than any low humidity day in summertime. And plant parts can dry out and get crispy just because it's cold. So mulch can help in that regard as well. But we cannot prevent the soil from freezing just by putting mulch on it.

Farmer Fred :

That's where you have the indoor garden or you have a greenhouse and that's the other solution to having a cool weather garden if you really want one is to have a greenhouse.

Debbie Flower :

Yes and I've been in greenhouse in Ohio. At a residential greenhouse in Ohio that was buried by about two feet into the soil. So they when when you left the house, you stepped down some stairs to enter into the greenhouse and that was to take advantage of that insulation that soil provides. And I also have a friend who has a greenhouse in Wisconsin, northern Wisconsin so up in those same North Dakota ranges you were talking about, she doesn't use it all winter long, but she uses that the two ends of this season's the just before and into the beginning of frost and, and at the other end in spring when she starts seeds. So it's doable a greenhouse definitely it's up against her house, and that provides some protections. And and it does provide some season extenders for her.

Farmer Fred :

If you want to know more about greenhouses, check out Episode 18 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. We released this back in June and it's has just about I think it's the whole episode by the way that is all about greenhouse basics. So you can check that out. Episode 18 greenhouse basics. If we didn't already let's run through a list of possible cool season crops that we can grow here and there

Debbie Flower :

and everywhere. And if you want to do that, I need to do that.

Farmer Fred :

Well, okay, well, let's talk about leafy greens, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, chard, I would think that most of the country can grow those probably for the colder parts, they would have a crop in now and it might be over by November.

Debbie Flower :

Right. And with the lettuce, leaf lettuce, where we you know, eat the leaves are not quite as stiff as the old iceberg head lettuce that maybe we grew up with as a kid and still love to eat because it's so crunchy. The head lettuces are not that crunchy, but the head lettuces take 90 days on average to go from seed to mature crop. Whereas the leaf lettuces take 55 on average, and you can start harvesting sooner than that by taking the outermost leaves of that leaf lettuce forms. Oh yes, somewhat of a head, you know, a very relaxed head and you just start. As soon as they're big enough for you to be happy with them. You can take the leaves off the outside of the plant, the growing point in that leaf lettuce is in the center. As long as you allow that to continue to grow. You'll have leaf lettuce until it's killed by frost.

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, that guy keeps saying all gardening is local. And sure enough, there are crops that we would be talking about planting here in the month or two ahead, such as garlic and onions that might be spring crops someplace else.

Debbie Flower :

Yes. And we can put some things in the ground that will go through the winter. I'm thinking of potatoes like potatoes that other people can Not. their soil would freeze and it would and the potato parts in the ground would turn to mush. And if you just want a real quick crop to grow something to keep the kids entertained, well plant radishes. Yes. I saw a hint. And they said to us the What do they call CD cases, they have a name, that clear CD cases, put some they're very narrow, you're not going to get a whole radish out of it. But put some media in it, open it up, lay down on the table, put some media moisture about halfway up the cd case. Put a seed in there, close it, and then turn it upright. And you can watch the roots. children I'm thinking of especially can watch the radishes grow. It's your own root growing device.

Farmer Fred :

I would advise people to take out the CD insert, the black insert, that's in there first. You have more room for soil.

Debbie Flower :

Yes.

Farmer Fred :

Yes, that's a that's a nifty idea.

Debbie Flower :

I thought it was cute.

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, I like that. There's a lot of great winter Vegetables, cool season vegetables that just about everybody in the country can be growing. Some of them. Some of us can grow them longer than others. But what the heck? gardening doesn't stop with the onset of fall. I'm not sure when fall starts anymore. Here it is August. I was in the grocery store yesterday. They already had the Halloween candy out. But oh my goodness. I'm thinking it's still summer. Yeah, yes. Well, you know why the candies out? Don't you?

Debbie Flower :

Because people are bored and want to eat it.

Farmer Fred :

Yeah, exactly. People are stuck at home. People are stressed. People eat candy when they're stressed.

Debbie Flower :

They should eat apples and melons and things like that. pluots, peaches.

Farmer Fred :

There you go. Yes. natural sweetness. Yes. Tell that to the candy aisle,

Debbie Flower :

right. Yes.

Farmer Fred :

All right. Well, once again, as summer goes into fall, it's cool season vegetable time, wherever you might live. Debbie Flower. We found out a lot today. Thanks so much.

Debbie Flower :

Yes, thank you, Fred. I always enjoy talking to your gardeners.

Farmer Fred :

garden basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday and it's available just about anywhere podcasts are handed out and that includes Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, I Heart Radio, overcast, Spotify, stitcher, tune in, and hey, Alexa, play the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, would you please? Thank you for listening, subscribing and leaving comments. We appreciate it.

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