Starting A Fall Garden

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Always Start A Fall Garden Early – As Strange As That May Sound

By the time many people start thinking about fall crops, it’s already too late. To ensure a successful fall and winter harvest, you need to start many of your late-season crops in the peak of summer. In most regions, this means planting in the heat of August to give your crops time to size up while growing conditions are still good. Some fast-growing fall crops like lettuce and radishes can be planted into late September, but many desirable fall crops like broccoli and carrots need several months of prime-growing conditions to mature before frost and low light levels set in. When in doubt, plant your fall crops a little early.

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The Common Fall Seeds

Pumpkins… How can anyone think of the Fall season and not think of pumpkins? The seeds in pumpkins can be used over and over to replant these magnificent vine vegetables.

  • Plant seeds in rows or “pumpkin hills,” which are the size of small pitcher mounds. With hills, the soil will warm more quickly and the seeds will germinate faster. This also helps with drainage and pest control.
  • Prepare the hills in advance with an abundance of old manure dug deep into the ground (12 to 15 inches). If you don’t have manure, loosen the soil and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost
  • Plant the seeds 1 inch deep into the hills (4 to 5 seeds per hill). Space hills 4 to 8 feet apart. 
  • Your plants should germinate in less than a week with the right soil temperature (70 degrees F) and emerge in 5 to 10 days. 
  • When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill by snipping off unwanted plants without disturbing the roots of the remaining ones. 
  • In rows, sow seeds 6 to 12 inches apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart. Snip off plants to thin to one plant every 18 to 36 inches.

The Secret?

The secret to growing plentiful fall veggies is timing. That means thinking a little differently because you have to plan backward. Start with your area zone’s average frost time. Then look at the number of days to harvest for the fall vegetable you want to grow. You’ll find that number on the seed packet or in the catalog description. Use the days to harvest number to count back from the first frost date. Then add two weeks, because many fall vegetables grow more slowly as days shorten in fall.

Test Garden Tip: 

If you live in a hot-summer climate, you might need to start seeds of your favorite cool-season vegetables indoors; many do better in air-conditioning than they do in the heat. The basics of seed starting are the same in autumn as in spring: Use a high-quality seed-starting mix for best results. If you reuse the containers you used for your seeds in spring, be sure to wash them in a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to kill any disease organisms that might be lurking about.

The fall garden is all about knowing when and knowing the area that you live in. Because sometimes summer decides to last a bit longer and that alone can damage crops. Also, knowing the circumference of one’s home is crucial, this allows a gardener to know when the sun settings. This means that if you house faces the west, the front of the house will receive evening sun (this tends to be the hottest time of day) and if your house faces east, then the front of the house will only receive morning sunlight.

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The Best Vegetables to Plant for the Fall Are:

  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli

For example when it comes to planting fall lettuce and other vegetables: (12 to 14 weeks before the first frost) –

Direct sow lettuce, radishes, and rutabagas.

Be sure to start seeds for cabbage, kale, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and other brassicas indoors.

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Wait! What About Watering a Fall Garden?

With cooler temperatures about to happen, watering that fall garden may be a bit different. There is no need to over water because of the summer heat. For seeds sown directly outside, be sure to keep the first inch of soil moist and remember that summer-sown vegetables may require watering twice a day. Always use a nozzle that can be adjusted via water pressure. As your plants continue to grow, keep an eye on late summer heat spells or rainstorms that may affect how much water they need day to day. Once the cooler temperatures of autumn arrive, transition to a less frequent watering schedule so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.

The Best Time to Grow Broccoli

Since broccoli is a cool season vegetable, the fall garden is a perfect idea for this seedling. Grow broccoli so that it comes to harvest when temperatures average no more than 75°F (23°C) each day. For the best results with growing broccoli is the fall:

  • Start broccoli seed indoors 5 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring for spring planting.
  • Start broccoli in the garden in mid to late summer to grow a late fall or early winter crop. In mild winter regions, plant in fall for winter harvest.
  • Transplant broccoli seedlings to the garden when they are 4 to 6 weeks old, as early as the last frost in spring, after hardening off the seedlings for 4 days.
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The Best Vegetable to Grow in the Fall/Winter Season?

Beets are the best veggie to grow in the fall garden. Not only will this be the easiest veggie to grow but since this is such a hardy root vegetable, even frost can not damage this beauty. Beets prefer to be grown in colder temperatures and gardeners will receive a better taste from these root vegetables if the temperature stays below 68 degrees.

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The fall garden comes down to the gardener and their research. The more an individual knows about the soil and the land they live on, the better outcome. Or try creating a mini greenhouse to monitor an exact temperature consistently for this vegetables.

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