You probably look outside and see an abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers in your summer garden. However, September is fast approaching and we need to start thinking about fall vegetable gardening in the next few weeks.
A fall garden needs to be prepared just like any other season. You need to clean out dead plants, fertilize the soil, and decide what to plant for maximum yield. What chores should you put on your to-do list this week? And what should you plant in the fall? You will only achieve a bountiful fall harvest with a properly prepared garden bed and the right plants! Check out my post about what to plant in November and keep reading for more fall vegetable gardening tips!
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Preparing Your Garden for Fall
In Georgia, we will still have warm temps for another month or two during the day but our summer crops are tired and spent. It’s time to start thinking about fall vegetable gardening. There are a number of plants that thrive in the cooler temperatures of fall. However, before you can plant them, you need to start preparing your garden for a new season. Here are a few fall garden chores to get you started.
- Pick Your Summer Harvest: Pick all the summer veggies that you have not yet picked. Don’t worry if you can’t use them all up right now. Learn the art of preservation (like freezing rhubarb properly!)
- Decide which plants you can salvage for a few more weeks: If you see lots of small flowers and fruit on a plant, you might consider leaving it in the ground if you have other space you can use for your new plants.
- Pull everything else and remove debris. Don’t compost your dead plants or leave pieces behind. You may spread diseases to future crops. Find an out of the way spot to throw the clippings or toss in a burn pile for a later inferno.
- Repair broken garden beds: Take a look at your garden bed and see what sort of damage has been done over the last few months. Straighten stones and replace dead wood.
- Amend the soil: Add compost and re-till the soil in preparation for new plants.
- Choose fall plants wisely: Head to the garden center and see what sort of goodies you can find to plant. This depends on the area of the world you live in. Buy a local gardening book or check out GardenWeb for more info.
Fall Vegetable Gardening: 5 Plants You Need To Grow Now
Lettuces, root vegetables, snow peas, broccoli, and many other plants grow well in fall and some will even withstand a frost. Check out the Farmers Almanac for the last plant dates for each item you choose to plant in your fall garden. Otherwise, you may end up with an early frost and a dead crop. Here are a few things to plant if you would like to give fall vegetable gardening a try!
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Depending on your location, you can start growing root vegetables in your fall garden starting in late August. Keep the seeds damp to protect from the summer heat. These crops can generally withstand a light freeze as winter starts to move in. Beets, radishes, green onions, and small varieties of carrots are great fall garden crops to start with. Consider planting smaller crops in a cold frame greenhouse to protect from cold weather.
You will want to plant greens in a partly shady spot if you are planning to put them in a fall garden. They really cannot stand the hot summer sun so choose a spot that gets shade in the afternoon if possible. Spinach and kale will grow well all the way into early winter. If they get covered with a blanket of snow, they may even overwinter and start growing again come early spring depending on your location.
Spinach Recipes You Might Like
- Healthy Quinoa Salad Recipe with Spinach and Apricots
- Breakfast Casserole with Sundried Tomatoes and Spinach
- Tropical Green Smoothie Recipe
Fall vegetable gardening is perfect for cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Look for varieties that have shorter maturation times if you live in an area that gets snow very early. Here in Georgia, we don’t get much snow and usually, it doesn’t come until well into December.
You will want to plant garlic in your fall garden, however, you won’t actually be harvesting it until spring or summer the following year. The bulbs will overwinter and start growing in very early spring. Once the greens start dying off in the summer it is time to harvest. Check out my article on how to grow garlic for a few tips.
Snow peas and beans:
If you live in a mild climate, snow peas and beans may be perfect for fall vegetable gardening. Plant in late August and keep them well watered. These plants will need pollination which means you will want to plant them somewhere you think pollinators will hang out. They aren’t as abundant in the fall as they are in the spring and summer.
Plant a honeybee watering station or include some fall flowers in the area to bring in a few pollinators. These will generally not survive a freeze so only plant if you tend to have a warm fall. Click on the photo below to learn how to make a honeybee watering station!
When planning your fall vegetable garden, you may want to purchase some sort of row covers to protect against a hard freeze. Most of the plants listed above will survive a light freeze with no problem but a hard freeze may kill them. You can use old sheets to protect them as well, if you don’t want to invest in row covers. Learn how to prepare your lawn and garden for cool weather before summer is really over. Check out my post on fall garden tips to get started growing a few new crops!
(post updated and content added from previous publish date)
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.