Fall Gardening: Selecting Your Crops


This post is Part II in a series on Fall Gardening.  Part I can be read here.

The seeds for our Fall ’12 and Spring ’13 garden; not counting the ones we already have in storage or are currently collecting and saving.

I am a seed junkie and shop for seeds the way some women shop for shoes.   I spend a good bit of my spare time drooling over seed catalogs and have been known to buy a packet just because I thought it looked like fun to try.  At the same time I can go nuts in a nursery.  I find an end of the season plant sale and will come home with more plants than I have garden space.  This goes for vegetables as well as herbs and flowers.

Over the past several seasons of trial and error in my garden, these are some things I have learned:

When it comes to choosing vegetable crops: grow what you like to eat.

There is no point in devoting garden space, time, and energy to growing broccoli if this is not something your family enjoys.  My husband and I love green salads and have one with dinner nearly every evening.  We also love greens such as kale, Swiss chard, and collards so much of our garden space is devoted to growing several varieties of greens in all sorts of textures, colors, and sizes.

Choose crops and varieties that are well adapted to your area.

Contact your local extension office or   visit with other veteran gardeners about what they have used and what has worked well for them.  Just because your grandmother successfully grew a particular variety of rhubarb in her Michigan garden doesn’t mean that same variety will grow just as well in your zone 6b climate or clay soil.

Seed or transplant?

In my opinion, this depends on your level of experience.  If you are a well seasoned gardener, then growing all your own transplants is the most rewarding and economical way to go.  If you are just beginning, I recommend you consider using transplants or sticking with seeds that are relatively easy to sow.  Some crops that are easily started from seed are lettuce, beets, Swiss chard, and radishes.  Those that would be easier started from transplants are tomatoes (provided  your climate is friendly towards fall tomatoes), peppers, cabbage, and onions (started from “sets”).

Where to shop:

Seed catalogs are fun to browse through and contain a wealth of information.   I have had great success with my seeds purchased from Burpee*, Park Seed, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and the Seed Savers Exchange. Alternatively, if you choose to use transplants I would strongly encourage using a local nursery as opposed to a big box chain store.  Not only are the nursery staff more knowledgeable, but the transplants are most likely grown in your area and have therefore already acclimated to your zone.

Happy crop selecting!

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Fall Gardening: Selecting Your Crops — 10 Comments

  1. Excellent tips!! I have my seeds all ready, and seed trays (those the goats didn’t chew up ;-)), now I just need some time to get these babies started. :-)

    • I’m a bit anxious about the timing of this garden since we’re in the process of moving and things seem to have slowed down atm. We have the frame for our raised beds built and hopefully in a few weeks we can set them out, and start filling them with soil. All the same I have some tomatoes and onions starting under grow lights and I’ll start some beans and cucumbers in a few weeks. That’s funny ~ your goats ate your seed trays. Teehee. :D

      • Jenny since you are starting a new garden do look in HugelKulture beds. It makes it so easy top gardena d you are not digging other than to remove your sod. Just flip the sod over and cover the inside of your bed with wood, older and the more rotten the better as the decay process warms your bed in cold weather. The pile on your leaves, grass cuttings etc. dirt goes on last. you can plant right into it, and the roots of your plants will go down to the wood which holds water. its amazing what it will do, my beds are so lush… i have used this in az and did not have to water constantly as others did. (I also mulched the top heavily.) I do this with my pots as well and inspite of 90 degree heat and no rain i only have to water once or twice a week. Not wilting from heat, no hassle with bugs and the place looks great and it also makes the pots lighter to lug to my container pot section as the dried wood is less heavy than the dark rich dirt i use… her is a search i did for info. good luck!


        • Thanks so much for the info! I’ve heard of this and have been meaning to give it a try. I’m glad to hear it has worked well for you in AZ. We have a pretty hot climate here too.

  2. Hi Jenny. Love the gardening tips. I just sent in my fall seed order- trying cauliflower and brussels sprouts along with lettuce and spinach.

    • Hi there! Good luck with your fall garden, I hope it goes well for you. I tried brussels sprouts last year but it was still too warm, even in mid fall and the sprouts just never formed right. We’ve done ok with lettuce though. That is one of my favorite things to grow. :)

    • Thank you. We’re fortunate in that we don’t get our last hard frost sometimes until November so if I use cold frames, etc. I can sometimes garden through the year. That is my goal at least.