Summer may be a great season for gardening, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over when autumn hits. Believe it or not, fall brings about some wonderful rewards that you should take advantage of.
When to Start Planting?
The biggest secret to having a luxurious fall garden involves the timing. The time you start planting all depends on the region of the country you’re in. The plants need time to mature when the weather is still warm out, but on the same note, if you were to plant too early, the heat could stunt their growth. Also, some of the plants could set seed prematurely, which will make the crop bitter.
In order to find the best time to plant fall crops in your region, you need to be familiar with the average date of the first frost. If you need help figuring this out, your local nursery would be the ones to ask, or you could turn to an online almanac and look your region up. This site has some awesome info on frost dates for all of North America! On the back of the seed packet, you should find the “days to maturity” information. Take that number and subtract it from the date of the last frost – that date right there is the best time to plant your fall vegetables.
Let’s say you would like to plant Calabrese broccoli – that will take around 75 days to mature. Now, let’s say October 15th is your average date for the first frost. With that in mind, you should plant the seeds no later than August 1.
Make Room for Your Fall Vegetables
When it comes time to start planting your fall garden, go ahead and make room for the fresh crops. You can remove the crops that aren’t performing well anymore – like tomatoes and peas. During this time, get rid of weeds because those have a tendency to take the nutrients away from baby plants.
If you have a lot of clay in the soil, then we recommend working in some organic matter in order to give your fall vegetables a nice boost.
Vegetables to Plant in Fall
When it comes to root vegetables, as a good rule of the thumb, it is best that you grow them from seed. Once it’s growing, you won’t have to disturb the root. Beets are a great choice for that fall garden and you can harvest them from spring all the way into summer. Yes, beats can grow in summer heat, but they may get a bitter taste during this time. Late summer would be a good time to resume planting beets – the bulbs will continue to grow until there is a hard freeze and the tops can withstand a little bit of frost.
Broccoli is a great fall vegetable to grow and it grows best when the weather is cool. Broccoli plants are able to tolerate frost, but early spring frosts can kill them. The florets are flower buds and they will open up slowly when the weather is cool, so you will have more time to harvest them during the fall. Mind you, broccoli takes a couple of months to mature, so you should plant them during mid to late summer so that you can harvest them during the fall.
If you like cabbage, then you should go ahead and plant some for fall harvest. The plants are capable of growing during the warm weather, but in order to form a head, they need cool weather. Plus, you get the best flavor from cabbage plants when they are able to grow at a steady pace and have enough water. Cabbage requires between 90 to 120 days to mature, so it would be best if you transplant the seedlings in mid to late summer. Cabbage should be hardy enough to be able to tolerate a light frost. With a bit of protection, you will be able to harvest cabbage throughout the winter. Mind you, the cabbage isn’t going to grow when it’s cold outside, but they will be able to retain their freshness and may even get sweeter to the taste.
Carrots may not be the fastest growers in the book, but there are some smaller varieties like “Paris Market” and “Thumbelina” that will mature within 50 days or so. You could sow the carrots in containers in window boxes, which will keep them close to you so that you can easily care for them.
Kale is probably the easiest crop you can grow during the fall. The seeds germinate in both warm and cool soil and since it’s grown for the leaves, you don’t have to worry about flowers or heads forming. Magic tends to happens to vegetables like this that are growing during the fall as the cool weather makes it so that the leaves have a nice sweet flavor and a good texture.
Peas are another good vegetable that loves cool weather. Many varieties of peas will be ready to harvest within 60 days. Pea seeds have a tendency to germinate quickly when the weather is warm, but they will require more water and some protection from the sun when they’re babies. When they’re ready to start flowering and producing peas, the days and nights will be nice and cool.
If you have never planted vegetables during the fall, you don’t know what you’ve been missing out on. There are so many amazing vegetables that really flourish during the fall months. Plus, there’s nothing like doing a little bit of gardening when it’s nice and cool outside.