71004thumbFrom the time they get planted in early spring, tomato plants are expected to perform a bit better than they did earlier in the season. They start out with only a few early tomatoes, but quickly become prolific. Production continues to increase as the plants grow all through summer . . . until now. Newer leaves on top are not staying so far ahead of fading leaves below.

While the weather is still warm, it is difficult to say how tomato plants know that autumn will soon replace summer. They do not seem to be intelligent enough to realize that every day is imperceptibly shorter than the one before. Nor do they seem to be sensitive enough to notice if the nights get slightly cooler. They just know, and they tell all their friends.

If zucchini plants have not started to fade and sag, they will soon. As weather cools, they no longer grow faster than the mildew that they tolerated all summer. Any fruits that are present now should have time to finish developing, but there probably will not be many more after that. (Zucchini fruits are eaten before mature anyway.) Other warm season vegetables are in a similar state.

Acorn, Hubbard, butternut and other winter squash grow through summer just like summer squash do, but are not harvested until the vines wither in autumn and winter. Unlike summer squash that continue to produce many tender juvenile fruit to replace what gets harvested through summer, winter squash plants put all their effort into one or two large ripe fruit.

Warm season vegetable plants still need to be watered as the foliage slowly deteriorates. They only begin to need less water as they lose foliage and the weather gets cooler. They may like to be fertilized one last time, but will not not need it again. Any last phases of corn will stay thirsty later than other vegetable plants because they deteriorate slower, and are rather thirsty anyway.

Seed for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and certain other cool season vegetables can be sown in flats or cell packs now so that their seedlings are ready to go when the warm season vegetables relinquish their space in the garden. If space allows, seed for beet, turnip and turnip greens can be sown directly into the garden. Carrot seed should still wait for cooler weather.

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4 thoughts on “It Will Soon Be Autumn

  1. Lucky you. In our winters nothing grows and any vegetable seeds usually freeze through the Winter. On the other hand we can take a rest, lean back and gather the energy for early Spring planting. I do not think the squash has yet been invented that withstands temperatures of -10°C 🙂

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    1. The other disadvantage to mild winters is that we can not grow plants that require a good winter chill. I can grow apples, but not all the varieties that grow in Oregon and Washington. Peonies are variable. Some people grow them down in the mountains above Los Angeles, but others have difficulty with them. It just does not get cool enough.

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  2. We have been seeing signs of fall over the last couple of weeks. I’m ready for it. The vegetable garden is spent, and it didn’t do well this year with the drought. The herb garden is making a bit of a comeback, which is normal as the weather cools. I’m only doing patchy mowing now. I enjoy each season as it comes. Fall is a time of preparation for winter, and easing into a more relaxing rhythm here on the ranch.

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    1. This article is actually one that was recycled from this time last year. We are a bit more behind schedule this year. We know autumn is out there somewhere. Because the seasons are so mild here, we appreciate the changes when they happen. Autumn foliar color, for example, gets noticed, precisely because it is not as normal as it is in other regions.

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