Fall gardening basics

Fall gardening basics

Have you considered that it is possible to do extra vegetable gardening in fall? Most people dismiss doing gardening in fall, but for the hardcore gardener, there are a few benefits to be reaped, like harvesting a bonus supply of vegetables that sometimes have a distinct taste compared to spring or summer grown vegetables.

Obviously, the plants you can grow in fall are somewhat limited to generally fast growing, hardy types of vegetables. There are long term and short term fall vegetables. The long term fall vegetables are those that can withstand the first onsets of frost, while short term fall vegetables are those that are typically killed by those first frosts. As you can expect, the timing and onset of frost varies from region to region. Using an old fashioned Farmer’s Almanac may be helpful.

Long term crops include cabbages, carrots, turnips, onions, broccoli, and spinach. Short term crops include corn, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, and most types of beans. The frost tolerance of vegetables above and below freezing point (0 degrees Celsius) denotes whether they are frost tolerant, or frost susceptible.

autumn crops

It is important to choose vegetables with the shortest growing season so that they can mature and be ready for harvest before the first onset of frosts. Look for seed packages with the label “early season” or the quickest growing ones with the least time to reach maturity. Those that mature within 1-2 months include spinach, beets, and turnips, while vegetables with longer maturity duration of 2-2.5 months include carrots, broccoli, peppers, and parsley. It is best to plant them way before fall starts, unless you are planting the fast growers. Procure them early during spring or early summer. Most seeds store well in a cool and dry place, until they are ready for planting.

To prepare for fall gardening, you should first clear all the spring and summer crops you have growing. This frees up the soil nutrients for the fall crop and gives them more space to develop. Also, leftover crops can spread diseases and pests. Remove all weeds and grass as well.

tilled soil

Choose the location with care. The amount of sunlight the plot receives throughout the day is most important, as the sunlight in fall would not be as intense as during the summer. Most vegetables require sunlight throughout the day in order to be productive. Before planting, till the upper layer of the soil to about a foot depth, wet it, apply compost or mulch and a bit of sand if you prefer, and then leave it for a day or so, after which it should be ready for planting.

Fall gardening has its benefits which many gardeners do not experience as they don’t attempt any gardening during the fall. But the rewards in some sublime tasting produce may well make up for all the hard work taken to reach that stage, and affords you more opportunity to get outdoors and spend more time in your garden – during that period of the year.

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