Do you find the idea of starting a fall garden a little intimidating? You’re not alone! However scary it may be, it is still possible. What’s more, it can be just as rewarding as growing a garden in spring and summer.
How do you go about it? That’s the topic up for discussion in this post.
Before we discuss the how, we are going to highlight the what, as in the types of crops you may choose to plant.
Frost-Tender Late Summer Plants – Towards the end of summer, most of us find time to plant those quick-grower summer crops like cucumbers, zucchini, and squash. These can be used, depending on how long your growing season is, for a fall garden.
Frost-Tolerant Fall Plants – As the name suggests, these are designed to tolerate frosts, but another huge benefit to having these in a fall garden is that they don’t actually like the warm weather. Therefore, these are the best choice for your fall garden. What kind of crops are frost-tolerant? Swiss chard, kale, beets, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, and a lot more.
Freeze-Tolerant Fall Crops – There are also some freeze-tolerant crops you may want to consider that will last throughout the whole of winter, like carrots, spinach and even garlic.
For more ideas, see the list.
How to Do it
Make Room For It
The first step to creating and growing that successful fall garden is to clear out space you are going to use for it. Depending on what state your garden is in or the area you have designated to use as your fall garden, this will probably mean getting rid of all the annual plants that have stopped yielding anything or those that have become too heavily infested with pests.
Once you cleared out space, it’s time to prepare the soil. If you have been using your garden throughout the year, growing crops and flowers, those plants have been taking all those great nutrients from the grounds for months. Before you can even think about starting to plant new flowers and crops, therefore, you need to first top-up the nutrients in the soil. You can do this by adding organic fertilizer or fresh compost.
As you may be intending on planting crops and flowers that are unlikely to survive serious freeze overs and frosts, you have to be quick to act. Without the right nutrients in the soil, crops will not be able to grow sufficiently to maturity before the freeze and frost come along.
Plant at the Right Time
The dates you plant your flowers, plants and crops in a fall garden will be different to those you followed for your spring and summer gardens. As there is not as much daylight, plant growth will naturally be much slower, so you need to compensate and plan properly so that you give your plants sufficient time before you harvest them.
The first thing you need to determine is when the average first date of frost is for your area.
The second thing you need to do is look at the packet of seeds for the crops you are intending on planting and look out for how many days to maturity are listed. Take that date and then add another 15 days to compensate for the reduced daylight hours. You then need to count backwards from the average frost date to determine when is the best time to plant those particular seeds.
If you are working with what are considered to be frost-tender late summer crops, you need to an extra week at the very least to allow enough time for you to harvest before the first frost.
While the majority of people consider gardening to be something you do at the height of summer, it is very easy to miss out on the excellent and rewarding opportunities you have planting a fall garden for a productive and interesting harvest. You may even want to consider trying to grow some plants indoors so that you can extend the season even further.