Though we are heading into another Indian Summer and the days will stay warm, falling leaves, Halloween, shorter days, football, Thanksgiving and dropping temperatures are just around the corner.
Gardening has a less common connection with autumn than spring, but fall can be a productive and enjoyable time to cultivate a vegetable plot. Here are a few tips to ensure autumn gardening success:
1. Plant quick crops
Winter is coming, so stick with quick crops that can grace your table in 40 days or less. When started in September, speedy growers such as arugula, mustard, spinach, turnips and red radishes will be prepared for picking in about a month. Additionally, certain Asian greens, such as tatsoi or mizuna, grow so fast you will have baby plants ready to eat just three weeks after planting.
2. Rotate your crops
If your garden beds have been active, you’ve got to be a bit strategic. Do your best not to plant the same vegetable crops in the same locations as the previous seasons. If the same crop is planted in the same spot, the soil will be weakened through continual use of the same nutrients. The plants will also attract the same insects and diseases to that part of the garden. Mix up your plot and your garden will flourish!
3. Cover your crops
In many areas where temperatures rarely dip below 20˚F, there are a number of vegetables that will grow all winter. However, if there are spells of unusually cool weather, cover your crops with a blanket, cardboard box or plastic covering. The following veggies will survive below-freezing temperatures if given some protection: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, rutabagas, swiss chard and turnips.
4. Use water wisely
The summer heat may be behind us, but that doesn’t allow us to become careless with our watering. Deep watering plants 1-2 times a week will keep them happier and healthier than watering lightly every day. Additionally, mulching your garden will help conserve water. Be nice to your plants and the local water supply!
5. Plant landscape
Don’t let your garden get all the love. Late fall is the best time to plant a beautiful landscape. The soil is at its warmest during this time of year, plus your new plants can get established with the winter rains. If your yard is a bit lackluster, now is the time to make it more attractive.
6. Nourish your soil
Remember to feed your soil, not your plants. Fertilizing with organic fertilizers and composts continually builds your soil’s health, so you will not have to fertilize as frequently.
(Bonus tip from our experts: Don’t throw away eggshells – crush them and put them in your garden. Eggshells are full of calcium!)
If you’d like to get your fall garden going, stop by one of our five locations and our experts will help you get started!