Planting tips for the fall garden

Crops with tasty roots, shoots, and leaves are nature’s way of making sure we get plenty of fresh vegetables even when the weather turns cold.

beets-blogIf you’ve never grown a fall garden, now’s the time to start. Besides the joy of bypassing expensive veggies in the produce aisle, many cool-season vegetables are also good for your health.

Vegetables belonging to the cabbage family, like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and flowering kale, have cancer-fighting phytonutrients.

Other delicious cold-weather vegetable friends include beets, onions, carrots, peas, chard, endive, lettuce, collards, mustards, turnips, radishes, spinach, and even Chinese cabbage. Look for cultivars that are known to be cold-hardy and fast-maturing. Garden centers often carry transplants of fall crops that are most suitable for their specific area.

An added benefit of planting for cold weather is that the frosty temperatures actually bring out the flavor and sweetness of some vegetables, like parsnips and kale.

Planning is the key to a successful fall garden. Yesterday’s blog post gave the steps for deciding when to plant. Just count back from the first frost date and use the number of days to maturity for each kind of vegetable to find the planting date.

Clear the planting area of weeds and any summer crops that are beyond their prime. But keep in mind that some warm season crops, like corn and beans, can be harvested until the first killing frost.

Till the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and plant the seeds. If the weather is still hot when it’s time to plant, help reduce the soil temperature by watering the garden just before planting.

You can plant the seeds a bit deeper than you would usually do during spring planting. This helps seeds stay cool and moist. Shading the soil with a light mulch will also help regulate the soil temperature to help with germination. Water as needed to keep the seeds moist.

If the summer garden was well-fertilized, the fall garden may do well without adding additional fertilizer. However, fall vegetables may benefit from side dressing with nitrogen, just like their spring counterparts.

Be prepared when cold weather does arrive. Some cool-season veggies, like beets, lettuce and carrots, can tolerate a light frost. Protect plants with old sheets propped above plants, plastic milk jugs, or row covers. Other vegetables, like broccoli, turnips, and cabbage can stand one or more hard frosts.


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I love this post! You always have the most awesome pictures too!!

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