Fall Veggie Prep | Randy Thompson |Central Texas Gardener

Fall Veggie Prep | Randy Thompson |Central Texas Gardener

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– It’s time for vegetable gardeners to shift
gears and put the spring behind us. Get ready for the fall crop. And joining me right now to talk about how
we do that is Randy Thompson from the Sunshine Community Gardens. Welcome back to the show Randy. – Thank you, thanks for having me Tom. – It’s great to have you here. And this year, spring and fall are beginning
to feel like diametrically opposed. The spring was a time of monsoon, lots of
moisture, lots of fungal problems and now we’re in kind of a drying spell. So what do we do to kind of clean up the garden,
in terms of garden hygiene from all that stuff that’s kind of hanging on from the spring
time. – One, when you get all that water, you get
all that extra plant growth and I would suggest to people that you first think about is a
funky piece of Swiss chard that’s been growing since last winter, but now filled with insect
holes and other things, is that worth eating now? Or is it worth yanking so that you can plant
it at the right time of year and get it so that it taste wonderful. And again, tomatoes the same way. While it is possible to replant tomatoes now
and get a fall crop, they’re never as wonderful as the ones you plant in an appropriate time
of the Spring. I carry a few crops through this time of year. I carry my peppers through, my basil, even
if its not great for picking leaves, it’s wonderful for insects. And I don’t have a lot in bloom now. I’m down to sunflowers, a few wild flowers,
and my basil, so I let the basil glow. – Yeah. – But otherwise, I’m pretty much removing
everything and I mean everything. I’m even meticulous to the point where I’m
taking out my tomatoes, I’m getting all the leaves off the ground because those spores
are there. – [Tom] Exactly. – And you wanna remove it from the garden. – Good garden hygiene really saves you a lot
of trouble down the road. – [Randy] Yeah. – So what do you do with all that organic
material though that you’re getting rid of? You just put in a compost pile? – We encourage everyone at Sunshine that unless
you can say that plant is distinctly diseased and you’re gonna be transmitting that disease
by putting it into compost, to do that. And the only other plant we categorically
get rid of is a plant called Khaki weed that makes little burrs and we have not found a
way to control it. We’ve tried burning, mowing, digging, literally
anything you can think of. – On the compost side though, I always have
been recommending for years and years that people freshen up each planting season by
adding new compost. What’s your recommendation there and how do
you add it? Do you turn it into the soil? Do you just lay it down in sheets? What do you do? – Okay, at Sunshine, we allow people in the
community to bring their kitchen waste because the city hasn’t rolled out a curbside pickup. So our compost is in piles. So there can be some stuff that you don’t
necessarily want in your plot. So, I always screen it, but then I just top
dress it. So you pull out your tomatoes. When you pull out your tomatoes, those roots
go in your yard in every direction, it looks like you actually had tilled the soil. – [Tom] Exactly. – So I will smooth it out with a rake so that
it looks pristine again. And part of what I do in my personal plots
is, you can’t grow everything every place. You can’t rotate because as a community gardener
you don’t have the space to pick a new place for your solanaceous plants every year because
if you’re growing tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, there’s just no place else you can put them. So what I do is rotate them by season. So where I had my tomatoes, I’m taking those
out now or move the cages. And then I’ll put down as much compost as
I have the energy to move on top of it in this heat. But let’s face it, August and September are
not popular times for people to be out working in the garden. – [Tom] Absolutely right. – Rather than say, like A and M will tell
you to put down four inches of compost, Bill Adams will say whoever has the most compost
wins. I go ahead and do as much as I can stand to
do in the heat and go with it. And then I do a different part of the garden
after I put my winter crops in where my tomatoes have been. – Okay, well, a lot of people think of creating
like a recipe for their soil. So they use certain sets of amendments and
they actually enjoy mixing these things together, preparing for the new planting season. What do you recommend in terms of soil amendments
and fertilizers, those kinds of things. – The only thing I have ever used at Sunshine
besides the compost material that I’m putting in, is I’ve used sulfur a few times. And truthfully, it was because someone brought
a big sack of sulfur to the garden and I wanted to lower the PH to get it to be in a more
appropriate range for tomatoes. And a few times I’ve used cotton burr compost
that again has been acidified with sulfur. But other than that, I rely on what we have
at Sunshine and we do because of the number of gardens we have, we have to buy compost
from the outside. Sometimes we do it locally. We had a tractor trailer bring mushroom compost
in once that was actually pretty wonderful, except that we did that maybe three years
ago and I’m still pulling at oak trees because there were so many acorns in the material. – Okay, yeah. – And its taken them that long. This year a lot of them did actually germinate. – Okay, well you know there is a bit of garden
wisdom that tells us be careful what plants you plant in succession. You don’t plant these plants on the heels
of these plants. Are there any rules or kind of highlights
in that subject area that you wanna underscore? – I have an Ag education. I’m an aggy from Penn State, but I have found
that supposedly you can’t put peas next to beets and things like that. And I do it, and there is no problem. Now, they’re physically separated by only
about three or four inches, so I’ve not had that problem with either them hindering the
other or from diseases or something else carrying in from the other year. What I like to tell people is that you have
to maintain your hygiene, but remember that no matter how good you are, if your neighbor
lets their tomatoes sit there with early blight, the spores that cause rust and soy bean flew
all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. So, you know, the person 20 feet away from
you can get you if the spores can carry across an entire ocean. – Yeah, you’re right. – So you can only do the best that you can. – [Tom] All right. – But I have not had an issue with things. Because I garden among 200 people, you see
lots of folks at Sunshine that do innerplant, do result to shading, do do a weekly fertilization
of things like that and their plants are in a full range of whatever else. Some are good, some are bad, and I think in
Texas, our big limiter is the temperature and the lack of rain. – A big question a lot of people have for
fall gardening or any kind of vegetable gardening is seeds or transplants, what’s your favorite
approach? – I almost exclusively seed. The things that I put in from transplants
are only in the spring when I’ll do my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, like that. And I’ll admit that when I do broccoli and
other, the brassica’s that you need, big things like heading broccoli or cauliflower, I don’t
bother with that because I’ve found that those Asian cultivores that do single spears of
broccoli are much more appropriate for my wife and I. And with most vegetables, you need to get
them planted at the sweet spot so that they have enough time to mature before the weather
gets bad. So if you want a broccoli or cauliflower,
just pick any kind, go buy a transplant, but otherwise just be patient and do it from seeds. And I usually shoot for late September to
the beginning of October to get that in. And some years it’s totally successful, last
year I put my spinach in at the beginning of October, turns out it was too warm. I put my spinach in again at the end of October
and I finally got a fairly good germination rate. But also you should be thinking about it with
those leafy crops. You don’t want them all thrown in at the sme
time. You want– – The succession planting. – Yeah, you wanna do succession planning so
that you have those things at the optimal time instead of mildewy ones or ones that
have molded or anything else. – You’ve mentioned a lot of the favorite plants. The cruciferous plants, broccoli, cauliflower,
but the leafy plants like kale and chard, and lettuce, those are wonderful in the fall
and the succession planting makes a lot of sense. We only have a brief amount of time left and
I want you just to tell people about the community gardens and how people get plots, etc. – I always wanna tell people that when you
garden, you really should take notes. but part of that is, you need to see things
to take notes. So, look at your neighbors yard, look at a
community garden. The garden I belong to is Sunshine, near the
health department and the blind school . But come out, look at the garden, go to our website. At the website you can see how to join a community,
you can see the result of our tomato tasting, all sorts of information there. – All right, well Randy, as always it’s been
a genuine pleasure visiting with you. Thanks so much for being a part of the Central
Texas Gardener Family.

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