planting a fall garden

Planting a fall garden

Though summer weather may still be in full force, it's time to start planning your fall garden; planting in mid-to late summer will yield an autumn harvest. Whether you're a green thumb or a gardening newbie, a fall garden can provide delicious, garden-fresh veggies throughout the season. Plus, gardening comes with health benefits: you can burn 150 calories by gardening (standing) for about 30-45 minutes. Not to mention the health enhancing nutrients found in homegrown vegetables.

What to plant

Choosing what to plant is typically determined by where you live. Some climates are more suited to certain plants than others. However, don't be afraid to try something unorthodox. With some extra TLC, you just might be able to grow a special treat for fall.

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However, if you're a novice gardener, you may want to avoid discouragement by contacting a local nursery to find out what will flourish in your neck of the woods (try the harder stuff as your thumb gets greener). Generally, these plants are considered fair game for fall gardens (with days from seed to harvest):

  • Arugula* (20-35)
  • Asian Greens (30-45)
  • Beets (50-85)
  • Broccoli (50-85)
  • Brussel sprouts* (80-100)
  • Cabbage (90-120)
  • Carrots* (75-80)
  • Cauliflower (90-115)
  • Collards* (55-80)
  • Cress* (40-50)
  • Garlic* (7-8 mo)
  • Kale* (45-60)
  • Kohlrabi* (60-75)
  • Leeks* (100-120)
  • Lettuce (25-50)
  • Onions (65-110)
  • Parsley* (65-90)
  • Parsnip (120-180)
  • Parsnip (120-180)
  • Peas (50-75)
  • Potatoes* (60-120)
  • Radish (20-30)
  • Rutabaga* (85-95)
  • Spinach* (30-50)
  • Turnips* (40-65)

* winter hardy (will survive hard frost and produce through winter and spring)

When to plant

To determine when to plant, find out the average first frost date in your area (this information is readily available online) and the number of days to maturity for the things you're planting (found on the seed packet). Try to choose fast maturing varieties if winter arrives early where you live. Count back from the frost date to find your planting date.

vegetable gardening

Planting tips

Harsh summer temperatures can mean trouble for seeds and seedlings. Hot soil and a lack of water can interfere with germination so try the following to ensure growth:

  • Shade the soil
  • Place a light mulch over the seeds
  • Plant the seeds a little deeper than recommended

Once seedlings have developed, thoroughly moisten the soil once a week; you may also want to keep the seedlings shaded until their roots are established.

For help planning your bountiful and beautiful fall garden, see our Organic Gardening for Beginners infographic.

Source for seed to harvest days, winter hardiness: Sow True Seeds

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August 21.2013
The best tool I've found for determining the dates of your first likely frost in the fall and last spring frost is at
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