Though it is sad to think of it, the end of summer is here. As you enjoy the last few weeks of warmth and sunshine, you are probably busy in the garden, getting everything prepared for the winter and harvesting your late summer veggies. But don’t put those tools away quite yet, as long as you have at least 60 days before your first expected frost, there are plenty of veggies you can plant today and enjoy in just a few weeks.
Fall gardening is an efficient way to maximize the growing season, and it is a wonderful solution for cool crops that bolt when they are planted in the spring. Plus, your plants will have fewer pests and insects to contend with, and you won’t get baked in the sun when you are weeding your garden. Read on for favorite cool-season crops to plant in fall and few tips to help you succeed.
Tips for fall gardening:
Search for deals
Though seeds can be found in abundance in spring when warm-season crops are ready to be planted, finding seeds in fall can prove a little bit more tricky. Most nurseries and garden centers have stopped ordering plants by this time of year and merely have pots of mums and Halloween decorations gracing their shelves. If you plan ahead, you can get your cool-season seeds when you buy the seeds for your summer veggies. Or, you can search for deals as the weather cools. Many stores will sell their seeds at seriously discounted rates to clear them off of their shelves. Plus, you can always order online from a reputable source.
Do some preliminary cleaning
Your garden is probably starting to look a little ragged following the peak harvest season when it was all you could do to keep up with your overzealous tomato plants. Now that things have calmed down a little, it is imperative to take steps to clear out dead or dying plants, grab those last few cucumbers hiding on the vine, and rake your soil to remove any debris. This will make it easier when you go to plant in the spring as well. Mix in some more compost to replenish the depleted soil and pull out any stubborn weeds.
Choose the right varieties
Not all varieties are created equal. As you pick out your seeds for your fall planting, check the packages and be sure to choose the varieties that mature the fastest. Remember, you are racing against the weather and most of your cool-season crops won’t be able to survive a frost.
Consider row covers or a cold frame
Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t always cooperate and do exactly what is expected, so you may be confronted by a frost earlier than you were expecting. To protect your crops, consider setting up row covers for a lot of crops or cold frames if you have a smaller area. Some vegetables, such as spinach will survive a light frost, so covering them may not be necessary.
Mulch isn’t just for aesthetic purposes. Add shredded bark, leaves, or straw to your garden to help control weeds, retain moisture and, yes, make it look better too.
Best crops to plant in the fall:
These plants do great in cooler weather and will allow you to enjoy fresh veggies well into fall.
- Arugula: 30-40 days to harvest
- Beet: 50-65 days to harvest
- Bok Choy: 40 days to harvest
- Broccoli: 60-70 days to harvest
- Bush beans: 45 days to harvest.
- Cabbage: 50-65 days to harvest
- Carrots: 55-75 days to harvest
- Cauliflower: 65-75 days to harvest
- Cilantro: 60-75 days to harvest
- Collards: 55-60 days to harvest
- Garlic: in the spring
- Kale: 45-60 days to harvest
- Kohlrabi: 55-65 days to harvest
- Lettuce: 45-60 days to harvest
- Leek: 85-105 in the ground all winter
- Mustard: 30-50 days to harvest
- Green bunching onion: 55-60 days to harvest
- Snap Peas: 55-60 days to harvest
- Radish: 25-40 days to harvest
- Spinach: 37-50 days to harvest
- Swiss Chard: 50-60 days to harvest
- Turnip: 45-60 days to harvest
What are your favorite cool-season crops to grow in the fall? Let us know in the comments below.