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Fall gardening starts now in central Oklahoma

[Metro Creative Connection]
[Metro Creative Connection]

Some of the best-quality garden vegetables are grown and harvested during the Oklahoma fall season when warm, sunny days are followed by cool, humid nights. Under these climatic conditions, plant soil metabolism is low, so more of the food manufactured by the plant converts into a high-quality vegetable product.

To ensure a bountiful harvest in the fall, gardeners need to start getting ready now. As with any garden, adequate soil preparation is important for the garden to succeed. The answer to improve almost any soil condition is to add organic material, like compost.

Organic matter incorporated into sandy soil will help reduce the drying of the soil and improve the water and nutrient holding capacity. Heavy clay soil combined with organic matter will improve soil aeration, water absorption and drainage.

If you do not have access to your own compost, consider getting some from a local materials company, municipality or even picking up some bagged products from your garden center to add to your garden soil.

Many fall crops can be sown from seed starting in mid-August, including beets, carrots, leaf lettuce, collard greens and radishes. Wait until early September to seed spinach and kale since the soil needs to cool slightly for best germination.

Unless the soil remains moist at the depth where the seeds have been planted, germination will not take place. Applying mulch over the row after planting and watering with weeping hose or drip irrigation should overcome the germination problems. Remove the mulch after seedlings emerge.

Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage all will do wonderfully in the fall garden, often much better than in the spring, but must be grown from 4- or 5-week-old transplants. Check with your garden center and plan to get these transplants in the garden by the end of the month or early in September. Remember to water them deeply and often to help them get started once you transplant.

For garlic lovers, garlic cloves should be planted in mid- to late September for an early summer garlic harvest next year.

The OSU Extension Service has a great fact sheet on fall gardening that provides planting times and tips for all the best fall crops (HLA-6009 “Fall Gardening”), and it can be found at


The Oklahoma County Extension office also is offering classes regarding fall gardening. The “Do it All in the Fall” workshop will be from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 3 and will cover general tips for all garden and landscape activities such as lawn care, tree planting tips and fall bulb planting. There is a $5 fee for this class.

The “Grow Your Own” workshop is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 12 and will focus on growing fruits and vegetables. It is designed for beginning gardeners. There is a $10 fee for this class, but it will include take-home garden transplants and seeds.

Workshops will be at the Oklahoma County Extension Center, 2500 NE 63, held in accordance with CDC guidelines, space is limited. You also can attend “virtually” online for free. For more information or to register for either class, call the Extension office at 713-1125. To register to attend either workshop virtually, go to and scroll down to the bottom, click on Horticulture and check our "Events."

Email Julia Laughlin, Oklahoma County Extension horticulture educator, at .