Just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean your vegetable garden has to end too. Fall is for gardening, especially when it comes to growing edibles. Some of the best crops of the year, won’t even grow until things cool down. So keep your tools handy as Joe Lamp’l tells us what we need to know to prepare our fall garden for planting.
BHG024 – Your Cool-Season Vegetable Garden; The Best Part of Fall
A lot of people I know think of fall as a good time to give their green thumb a rest for a while. But not me! I think fall is a great time to be in the garden, especially when it comes to growing edibles! The days are cooler and humidity is low, pests and diseases are far less, and the demands of watering are minimal. Even the weeds are fewer. And if that weren’t enough of an incentive, some of my favorite edibles are best grown and thrive only in cooler weather.
Spinach, turnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, endive, arugula, leeks and collards–and root crops like carrots, beets, and parsnips all love cooler weather. In fact, heat is not a friend to these plants, which is why you typically don’t see them in a summer garden.
So what do you need to know to get ready for planting your fall garden? Well, if you’re using the same space, now’s the time to tidy up the planting area by cleaning out the remains of the summer garden. Most of your plants are likely past their prime and beyond harvesting; so out they go to the compost pile. And while you’re at it, remove crop residue and any weeds. And most important, now is the perfect time to incorporate more organic compost or well-rotted manure into the soil. The garden beds open again, so you don’t have to worry about having to work around the plants in the ground. It’s much easier now!
And by now the heavy feeders from your warm-season plants have depleted many of the nutrients in the soil. So we need to add back some natural fertilizer. Compost is the perfect amendment for doing that while recharging the soil with plenty of organic matter.
Some vegetables like spinach, collards, and cabbage are often sown directly for fall crops but if you’re anxious for a faster start like me, transplants from Burpee Home Gardens are readily available in garden centers and an easy way for some instant satisfaction and long-term rewards.
Now some plant varieties are hardier than others, while a few are even known to actually “sweeten up” after being exposed to a few frost events. Brussels sprouts and broccoli are two of the most popular frost-tolerant choices. But overall, like with all edibles, depending on where you live, will determine when you need to plant. You can find that information on the seed packs and plant tags and of course in books and online, even apps for your smart phone, like the Garden Coach, which you can download for free from burpeehomegardens.com.
In the next podcast, we’ll talk more about what to do to keep all your cool season crops going, even in the coldest temperatures. But for now, focus on the planting, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to this podcast series. All 26 episodes are on iTunes and you can also listen online at Burpeehomegardens.com — which is a great place to go for more ideas and inspiration and the garden coach app too!
Now go get dirty!