There’s been a fair amount of disappointment that’s cropped up in my vegetable garden this season. I have stunted beets, a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation with some shallots, mysterious nightly holes in my Swiss chard (turns out it’s earwigs) and a bacterial disease in my tomatoes. Oh, right, and there was that groundhog who ate my entire container of kale in one fell swoop. I was about to throw in the towel for the season and then I saw a sign. And that sign said “Plant Sale.” Let’s plant a fall vegetable garden.
The farm down the street had a plant sale the first weekend in August. Among the 6-packs and small pots were Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, collards, broccoli, cabbage of various colors, kale of various textures and heirloom varieties of herbs I’d never seen. All this pint-sized edible potential when some people’s gardens are bursting at the seams, causing them to say uncle. Not me. Put in back in the game, coach. There’s a ton more growing to do.
Reasons to Grow Vegetables in the Fall
Having a second chance for a successful garden may be my reason for growing another round of veg this fall. But there are a bunch of motivations for growing deep into the year.
- Less heat and humidity.
- Fewer pests.
- Warm days with cool nights (it’s good for growth!).
- Less need for constant watering.
- Fewer weeds.
- Extra harvests for canning or freezing.
- You’re home more consistently and can keep a more careful eye on the garden.
One of my favorite reasons for planting a fall vegetable garden is finding late-season harvests of beets, chard or broccoli up until New Year’s Eve. There’s something magical about that.
Fall Vegetable Growing Considerations
To set yourself up for success with growing veggies deep into the fall, you’ll need to consider several things.
If you’re sowing seeds in the ground, the seedlings will experience the opposite conditions as they experienced in the spring: cool nights and possibly quite warm days. Seedlings can easily dry out in the intense sun because of small, not-well-established root systems and such a small plant size. Consider sowing seeds on the north or shady side of existing garden plants that won’t be in the garden much longer (tomatoes, for example).
Daylength and sun intensity will be waning through the fall. Plant your crops in the garden and consider where shadows from trees and buildings will be falling in the next two months.
Plant successive batches of quick-growing crops such as radishes and green beans to maximize output.
Find the average first frost date for your region. Plan your plantings by considering the “days to harvest” information on the seed packet and counting backward from that first frost date. And then ADD TWO WEEKS. Summer-sown crops are slow to get going (the heat) and slow to mature (less sunlight), so this additional two weeks is a nice timeline cushion. Some crops such as collards and kale can handle some frosty weather and the first frost date is not a hard-stop issue.
10 Vegetables to Grow in the Fall
Fall vegetable gardens are filled with two types of crops: Those that grow quickly and those that can handle a light (and even not so light) frost. Here are 10 crops for your fall garden consideration:
Quick Turn Crops:
- Lettuces and greens of all types
Two Bonus Crops!
Carrots and beets are my two bonus crops that could go in either category above. A crop of carrots can be harvested at any stage—even if the carrot itself is quite small, the carrot greens are great for pesto! Or, mulch the carrots heavily and they may make you smile in the spring. Beet greens are just as delicious as beets themselves. Sauté or blanch and add garlic for a nice pasta dish, for example. I like to dice the beet stems and use them similarly to onions.
Potting Your Fall Vegetable Garden
Maybe your squashes are running rampant and your tomatoes have taken over. There is zero real estate for adding anything new in the garden. Listen, it’s totally okay to discard your colorful annuals potted up on your porch and replace with some vegetable transplants.
Ditch the old annuals in the compost and either completely refresh your container’s soil or mix in a generous portion of our Organic Mechanics Premium Blend Potting Soil. This mix, which contains compost, pine bark, coir, worm castings and perlite, is our most moisture-retentive mix. Use it in small containers, window boxes or any plant that requires moist soil. This will hold the water for your plants! You may decide to add handfuls of it when planting your fall vegetable transplants directly into the garden. Our research has also found that the plants produce twice as much fruit when grown in Premium blend, compared to our competitors. Add in a balanced, organic fertilizer when you plant and your fall harvest is well on its way.
And to help you to get your fall vegetables potted up (or any plants, for that matter), we are offering our customers a 20% discount on any size order of Premium Blend Potting Soil. Just click over to HERE, indicate how many bags you’d like, and the discount automatically be applied to your cart. But hurry on over—this offer is good only until September 1, 2021.