AUBURN, Ala. – If you missed the chance to plant a spring garden there is still hope to have fresh vegetables. Fall vegetable gardens are popular choices among gardeners. They not only provide nutritious food, they also act as a hobby for a lot of people. When planting a fall vegetable garden, choosing seeds of high quality is essential to a successful garden. High quality seed enables people to get the most out of the time, effort and money they invest in their vegetable garden.
Buy High Quality Seed
Nelson Wynn, an Alabama Extension regional agent in home grounds, gardens and home pests, said to make sure seed is high quality, look for a few things.
“High quality vegetable seeds are clean, viable, disease free and produces plants which are true to type,” Wynn said. “It is generally best to use seed not more than a year old and preferable produced by a seed grower.”
Professional seed producers have specialized knowledge and efficient methods for producing seeds at reasonable prices. Such seeds are widely available locally and through mail order companies.
“While heirloom seeds or seeds passed down from generation to generation may have some positive features, seeds saved from previous crops sometime carry plant disease and are less productive than the original crop,” Wynn said. “Also, many kinds of seed saved from previous crops often produce off-type plants as a result of cross pollination in the garden.”
Left over seed from last year can be used in this year’s garden if it has been stored properly in a cool, dry place. When using left over seed, plant the seeds at a higher rate than new seed would be planted. Viability decreases with the age of seed. Planting old seed at a higher rate will increase chances of producing a similar number of plants that new seed would have produced.
Check Planting site for Nematodes
If you plan to use last year’s site to plant, check for signs of nematodes on remaining plants or vegetables. Also, check for nematodes on new planting sites. Taking these precautions will aid you in harvesting quality vegetables.
Gardeners can send soil samples to the the plant diagnostic lab at Auburn University to test for nematodes. Visit the diagnostic lab’s website for information on how to collect and send soil samples. People can also contact their county Extension office for information on taking a soil sample.
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