It’s easier than you might think to plant a second crop for fall harvesting. Autumn crops are even easier to care for than spring crops.
You’ve already done the hard work of preparing the garden beds for planting in the spring. The cool-season crops will be long since harvested by mid-summer, and many other plants will be exhausting their productivity soon, making room in your garden beds.
All you have to do is remove any plant debris and amend the top couple of inches of soil with compost. Insect pests won’t be as numerous, weeds will sprout less frequently and grow less vigorously, and fall rains will lighten the burden of keeping everything sufficiently watered.
There are many cool-season and cold-hardy crops that can be started as the growing season reaches its peak. Your biggest challenge will be timing the various crops so that they have sufficient time to mature before your first average fall frost date.
A number of cold-hardy crops are actually improved by a little frost. The starch in parsnips converts to sugar after a light frost or two, making the roots sweeter. Brussels sprouts benefit from exposure to freezing temperatures. A little frost can enhance the flavor and sweetness of kale and collards.
However, cold temperatures aren’t the biggest challenge to growing fall crops. It’s the reduced amount of sunlight and shorter day lengths that present the biggest handicap for producing crops into the fall and winter months. The plants will grow quickly at first, and slow as the days become shorter and colder.
Find the first average fall frost date for your region and then work backwards to figure the appropriate planting time for the crops you want to grow. Remember that fall vegetables will grow and mature more slowly, and add an extra 2 or 3 weeks to that date for cool-season crops, to be on the safe side.
It’s better to plant too early than to get these crops in the ground too late. Cold-hardy crops will continue to grow through the first frosts.
Cool-Season Crops to Direct Seed:
Cool-Season Crops to Transplant:
Warm-Season Crops for Fall Planting:
Row covers will extend the season of many of these fall vegetables. Spinach and lettuce can be grown in cold frames all winter. Some cool-season plants won’t germinate well in hot weather, and should be started indoors.
Some seeds will respond well to being chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks prior to planting. If you keep a record of planting dates and the results of your harvest, it will assist in adjusting your timing in seasons to come.
Early summer is the time to start planning which fall vegetables you want to plant, so get out your seed packets and catalogs and start counting backwards. A simple chart to indicate which crops should be started when will help keep you on track.
With the endless passion for organic living, I - Ann Sanders has come up with the idea of creating A Green Hand. Being the founder and editor of A Green Hand, my goal is to provide everyone with a wide range of tips about healthy lifestyle with multiform categories including gardening, health & beauty, food recipe,...