I don't remember when I actually first heard about a fall garden. I think it was a conversation with my mom a few years back when she read about how to garden year-round in a 100 square foot space. Between our cut budget and my new found interest in eating locally and in-season more, I decided that this year we were going to try it. This past week I got all of my seedlings planted in the garden. I need to try to get the carrots planted this week and I will plant my spinach, arugula, and lettuces on Labor Day weekend.
I have to say that I had a hard time finding a lot of information about fall gardening. Its easy to find out WHAT to plant but not how to plant. Even vegetables that can be planted in the fall, don't have a information on the seed packets on how to plant for the fall. I don't have this fall gardening thing all figured out by any means, but I wanted to share with you all where I got my information and what I've learned so far.
What can I plant?
There are a lot of veggies that can be planted in the fall. Here is a list that I've compiled through my research. Keep in mind that this list may not be all-inclusive. You might find other plants that can be planted in the fall in your area. Also remember that you want to plant garlic in the fall to harvest in the spring. I left it off of the list since it isn't harvested in the fall.
This year I tried to plant kale, cauliflower, leeks, Brussels sprouts, and shallots (a type of onion). All of these need to be started in seed trays before you plant them in the garden. I started all of my seeds on July 24, 2015. I placed them on my south facing deck and hoped for the best. The first thing to realize with a fall garden is that these veggies are planted in a fall garden because they like cool weather. Unfortunately, it got too hot on my deck for some of my seeds. None of my leeks or shallots came up. Out of 12 seeds, I ended up with six Brussels sprouts starts. I only had one cauliflower make it out of the 12 that I tried to start. And we had four kale plants make it. Too keep that plants that did sprout alive, I moved the trays closer to the house so that they got shade from the overhang for part of the day instead of being in the direct sun on the deck all day. I also made sure to water them daily. I thought about trying to move them indoors by my French doors to the deck, but thought that, with a toddler that likes to pick flowers and "veggieables" running around, none of my plants would make it. They all seemed to thrive with the bit of shade and watering once I moved them though.
When do I plant?
This was the hardest step for me. However, after searching Pinterest (which is my go-to search engine for anything "How To"), I ran across this post that has fall planting guides for most states. In the Indiana guide, it gave me specific dates of when things HAD to be in the ground in order for them to avoid frost damage. If the specific vegetable you want to plant isn't listed, simply look on the seed packet to see how long until maturation and count back from your expected first frost date.
Something to think about: I didn't decide to plant a fall garden until late June or early July. I ran into issues of having my summer veggies not being all done by the dates I needed to start planting. Next spring, we will look at planting earlier in the spring so that veggies are finishing earlier which will allow me to plant my fall plants earlier. This year I started my pumpkins in seed trays instead of straight into the garden like you're supposed to because I'm cutting it close even planting on July 24 to have pumpkins of our own for Halloween (90 day maturation).
Where do I get seeds?
I'm all for supporting local businesses. My parents were small business owners, so I understand how much a small business needs community support. However, I also am now a beekeeper, so I worry about systemic pesticides being on my seeds or in my plants. Buy from a locally owned nursery that doesn't use systemic pesticides if you can. My local nursery doesn't sell vegetable plants in the fall, so I have to start my own seeds. I decided to buy seeds from Seed Savers because they do not have seeds that have been treated with systemic pesticides or GMO seeds. I have started to really consider these things since we got our bees. When I plant a garden for me, I'm also providing food for them. Seed Savers also has a great page on fall gardening.
While, it is too late for you to start some of the vegetables on my list, you still have time to plant lettuces, spinach, arugula and a few others. Can you imagine having a garden fresh salad for Thanksgiving?! I'm also planning on freezing some of my spinach and kale for smoothies this winter. I'll keep you updated on our fall garden's progress and my lessons learned.
Until next time...class dismissed!
Disclaimer: I am a Painted Fox affiliate.