How to Care for Cool Weather Vegetables

by Charles McGuire, El Paso Master Gardener

Fertilizing and watering

Watering should not be much different from your normal watering schedule for your all weather gardening; it might be a little less due to cooler temperatures. One gallon per square foot three times per week should be sufficient; adjust as necessary for your type of soil and extreme changes in temperature.

It is best to base fertilizer applications on the results of a soil test. If a soil test has not been taken, apply 5-10-10 at three pounds per 100 square feet before planting. The soil PH should be between 6.0 and 6.4 for best growth. Mix fertilizers thoroughly with the soil to prevent root burning.

When to plant and harvest cool weather vegetables

In the El Paso area, generally, most vegetables can be planted in September, October, or November, some as late as February. Below is a guide as to when to harvest some of the vegetables:

Swiss chard: as leaves become large enough

Collards: (kale and mustard) young plants or lower leaves on older plant; leaves should be young and tender; taste improves with cool weather

Kohlrabi: fleshy, swollen stems about 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter; before stem becomes woody

Leaf Lettuce: whole plant before hot weather occurs

Green Onions: before bulbing starts or before they become too thick (over ½ inch diameter)

Radishes: as soon as roots reach edible size

Spinach: can be cut just below the crown for once-over harvest or above the growing point to allow for regrowth; older plants can also be pinched off near the base of the plant to allow multiple harvests

Turnips: about 1 ½ to 3 inches in diameter

Happy gardening!

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