Many gardeners do not even consider fall gardening because of the winter
frosts that might make an early appearance. On the contrary, fall
gardening will result in excellent vegetables and will extend crops long
after spring planted plants are finished. Vegetables produced from fall
gardening are sometimes sweeter and milder than those grow in the summer
and offer a brand new taste to the same old veggies.
What you choose to grow during you fall gardening will depend on your
available space and what you like to eat, just like spring plants. Even
the crops that enjoy the heat, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, okra,
and peppers, will produce until frosts hit, which can be pretty late in
the year in southern areas. However, there are some plants that will
quit towards the end of summer like snap-beans, summer squash, and
cucumbers. If these vegetables are planted around the middle of the
summer they can be harvested until the first frosts as well. Hardy,
tough vegetables will grow until the temperature is as low as 20
degrees, but those that aren’t as strong will only be able to grow
through light frosts. Remember that if you have root and tuber plants
and the tops are killed by a freeze the edible part can be saved if a
large amount of mulch is used.
When fall gardening, make sure and pick the vegetables with the shortest
growing season so they can be full grown and harvested before the frost
arrives. Most seed packages will be labeled “early season”, or you can
find the seeds boasting the fewest days to maturity. You may want to go
after your seeds for fall gardening in spring or early summer; they are
usually not kept in stock towards the end of summer. If they are stored
in a cool and dry location they will keep until you are ready to plant.
In order to know exactly when the best time to start fall gardening, you
must know about when the first hard frost will hit your area. One of
the best ways to tell this is by a Farmer’s Almanac. They will give you
exact dates and are rarely wrong. You will also need to know exactly
how long it is going to take your plants to mature.
To get your soil ready for fall gardening you must first remove any
leftover spring/summer crops and weeds. Crops leftover from the last
season can end up spreading bacteria and disease if left in the garden.
Spread a couple of inches of compost or mulch over the garden area to
increase the nutrients, however, if spring plants were fertilized
heavily it may not need much, if any. Till the top layer of soil, wet
it down, and let it set for about 12-24 hours. Once this has been done,
you are ready to start planting.
Many gardeners will run from fall gardening so they don’t have to deal
with frosts, but if tough, sturdy vegetables are planted they can
withstand a few frosts and give you some wonderful tasting produce.
Fall gardening gives you the chance to enjoy your vegetable garden for
at least a little bit more time.
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