Planting a Fall Garden
Here in the mid-Atlantic region, we are taking shelter from the 90-degree heat and humidity and dreaming of cooler days ahead. This time of year, I like to go out early in the morning to harvest from my summer garden, then retreat indoors to the air conditioning to can or freeze my extra veggies and make plans for my fall garden.
Autumn is a wonderful time to grow. Your fall garden will have different plants than what you have out there now, but the cooler weather will yield crops that are crisp and sweet. Scroll down to learn about what you can plant and how to do it!
Delicious Fall Crops
Here are a few things that we have learned along the way to help you while you plan an autumn garden:
1. Determine your first frost date.
If you don't know when the first frost usually occurs in your area, use this handy tool to figure it out.
2. Count back 12-14 weeks from your first frost if you want to start your own seeds indoors.
If your first frost is about 3 months from now, you'll want to start those seeds now. These trays make seed starting a breeze!
3. Enrich your soil.
After a summer of growing, now is the time to add nutrients back into the soil for your plants. You can add compost or aged manure to help your fall crops thrive.
Gardening for the first time? Give these grow bags a try! They are light, easy, and fold up nicely for storage.
4. Count back 10-12 weeks from your first frost.
This is when you want to plant your seedlings - broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, celery, and kohlrabi. You may want to cover them with a mesh tunnel if you still see little white butterflies flitting about. This will help save them from cabbage worms.
You can direct sow (meaning put seeds directly in the dirt) carrots, beets, collard greens, radishes, leeks, lettuce, and peas.
5. Count back 8-10 weeks from your first frost.
It's time to direct-sow spinach, arugula, Asian greens, turnips, and more lettuce and radishes (so that you'll stagger when they are ready to harvest).
6. Count back 6-8 weeks from your first frost.
Sow another row of lettuce seeds and use a cold frame or tunnel to protect them. You can also plant one last round of spinach and mache. Depending on which zone you are in, these might very well last throughout the winter!
Now sit back and enjoy all that your fall garden has to offer! Be sure to water your veggies along the way. To extend your harvest beyond that frost date, consider installing a cold frame or fleece tunnel.