Written by Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.
It’s definitely the season for radishes, however, the ones in the picture above were harvested in the Fall of last year.
I was really excited to write this post because anyone that follows my blog knows that my heart and passion is in my garden. It’s my source of therapy and meditation as I sow, tend to and, yes… even pull weeds.
I’m not claiming to always have a green thumb, however, year after year I learn a bit more and for me it was a revelation when I learned about fall gardening.
Many of us are into preserving our own food. This revolution has sparked backyard gardens throughout the nation. In order to preserve the most amount of food from your garden to carry into the winter months, you need to start planning a Fall garden now.
That’s right, In order to have a productive Fall garden (depending on your region), your vegetables need to be sowed or planted by late July into the first week in August.
This can sound a little daunting especially for newbie gardeners, however, with a few tips you’ll be on your way to growing a bountiful harvest to carry you into the Winter.
What Can I Grow in My Fall Garden?
- Pak/Bak Choi (Asian Greens)
- Green, beautiful, Lettuce
- Brussels Sprouts
Root Vegetables: (keep well for months in a cool crisper or cellar)
- Rutabaga (MY NEW FAVORITE!)
- Potatoes (In some regions)
Other Veggies (specifically grown to preserve)
- green beans
It’s pretty amazing to visually see how much food can be grown late in the season. One thing to note as well is that it’s during this season that harvested greens, root vegetables and brassicas taste their best.
1. Starting seeds indoors. Count back 12-14 weeks from your Average First Fall Frost Date. All of your brassicas, and kale need to be started indoors where the temperature is cooler. When your seedlings are about 3 weeks along, transfer them outdoors, preferably on a cloudy day.
2. Add some nutrients to your soil. You’re probably going to plant where a previous vegetable had already been growing. It’s a good idea to add a bit of compost or worm castings to give your Fall crops optimal growing conditions.
3. Mulch. Since the days are still going to be hot, make sure to add some organic mulch to your Fall crops such as grass clippings or straw to keep moisture in the ground.
4. Water. Make sure to keep your seedlings moist especially if your trying to germinate seeds directly sown into your garden. One tip, soak your seeds and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day sow them in your garden. This should speed up germination.
5. Pest Prevention. One of the most difficult aspects of starting seeds and putting out new plants during the summer are bugs. My biggest tip is to use floating row covers especially on your brassicas to inhibit cabbage worms.
12 to 14 weeks before your first frost
- Direct-sow beans, parsnips, rutabagas, and begin planting lettuce and radishes.
- Start brassica seedlings and kale indoors, and set out the seedlings within 3 weeks.
10 to 12 weeks before your first frost
- Set out brassicas and kale.
- Direct-sow beets, carrots, collards, leeks and scallions, along with more lettuce and radishes. In some areas, even fast-maturing peas and potatoes will do well in the fall garden.
8 to 10 weeks before your killing frost
- Direct-sow arugula, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, turnips, spinach, mustard, pac choi and other Asian greens.
- Sow more lettuce and radishes, including daikons.
6 to 8 weeks before first frost
- Make a final sowing of spinach.
- Make a final sowing of lettuce beneath a protective tunnel or frame. (I have hoops over one of my beds for my Christmas Salads.)
On or around your first killing frost date
- Every fall garden should include garlic and shallots to be harvested in the Summer of the next year
Take it one step at a time. If your a newbie gardener, try one green and root vegetable for your Fall garden. If you’re ready to step up your game, add a few varieties and keep track of what produces well and what your able to preserve.
Most importantly, no matter where you’re at, have fun. Also, try to remind yourself, if you don’t meet your expectations there’s always the farmers market.
Do you have a Fall garden? Please share what you grow or would like to grow during the Fall to preserve for the Winter.