Fall Gardening


This is Part I in a series.  Part II can be read here.  Part III can be read here.

I have been spending the past several weeks poring over seed catalogs, making lists of crops we’d like to try, and mapping out beds on graph paper.

In addition to planning our move from city to homestead, we’ve also spent considerable time planning our fall garden; the planting of which is one of the first items on my to-do list once we settle in.

I love gardening in the fall.

Mention “vegetable garden” and often what comes to mind is the spring/summer planting season.  The fall however, is an excellent time to grow veggies and one that should not be overlooked.

Fall weather is friendlier to the plants as well as to the gardener.         

If you are in my zone (6b) or anywhere near it you’ve been battling summer temps over 100 sometimes for days on end.  Even the warm weather crops such as tomatoes start to peter out when the heat gets too far over 95 for too long. Some days it is just too hot to be working outside, even in the supposedly “cooler” morning and evenings.

Fall crops are less prone to pests. 

Veteran gardener Louise Riotte, author of the classic Carrots Love Tomatoes claimed that her fall planted squash was almost entirely insect free.

Crops planted in fall can be extended through the winter, or at least part of it.

Through the use of cold frames, garden cloches, or floating row covers, many crops will continue to grow, providing your table with all sorts of healthy home grown stuff.  Lettuce is such an example.  As long as the leaves are protected from frost, the lettuce will continue to do just fine.  Depending on where you live some crops will continue to grow year ‘round.  I have harvested lettuce as late as Feb. which is often when I will then start my spring planting.

If you want to plant a fall garden:

*Start planning mid summer (or thereabouts).  Most crops need a head start in order to get established before the cooler temps set in.   Now is the time to think about what you want to grow.

*Contact your local extension office.  They will be able to provide you with valuable information specific to your area such as recommended varieties and planting dates.  Don’t be shy about giving them a call.  That is what they are there for and they are an excellent resource for the home gardener.

*Stay tuned.  This is the first in a series of fall gardening posts that will include selecting seeds, favorite fall crops, heirlooms vs. hybrids, and extending the growing season.

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Fall Gardening — 25 Comments

  1. I’ve always loved the IDEA of a fall garden which appeals to me especially after a horrible hot summer, but I’ve never gotten around to it. The end of summer & going into fall are a very busy time for me as an artist getting ready for the fall shows I usually enter. So a fall garden is just a lovely dream that I just KNOW will be wonderful someday. Thanks so much for the encouragement Jenny!

    • I think it is hard to get into the habit of thinking about it mid-summer. The start dates for the seeds always catch me off guard and it is hard to get into a routine. With our summers being so difficult though, I’ve at times toyed with the idea of just gardening in the fall, coaxing it along through spring, and then taking a break in July. This was the first summer in two years it has been “cool” enough to have tomatoes.

        • We’re in transition, hoping to move out to our acreage by the end of summer/ beginning of fall so with the exception of a few things we really didn’t have a summer garden this year and what we do have is not doing so well with the heat. I’m really anxious to get our fall garden in as that will pretty much be our garden for this year.

  2. I too have started planning my garden – though it will be spring for me. :-) I got a whole heap of new seeds that I can’t wait to get planted. Things seem to grow beautifully in Australia – though I’m always nervous when I’m out there because snakes like to hide under plants. Yipes! :-)

    • We just got all our seeds too ~ it’s just like Christmas. I’m wondering what to do about the snakes also. I’m *terrified* of them and I know we’ve got them. I’ve seen three already. Fortunately I don’t think they are poisonous and I’m willing to try and tolerate them if they aren’t a danger to me or my little doggies.

  3. We always have a big summer garden and this will be our first year to plant a real fall garden. I am excited about the new things to try.

  4. I LOVE planting in the fall! We started our garden last week and will continue to plant in it up through the end of August. I enjoy a spring/summer garden, but love my fall garden!

    • We have wicked hot summers (it has been as high as 106 for days on end now) so I always have better luck in the fall than I do in the spring/summer. We usually don’t get our last frost until Nov. which allows for a pretty long growing season. This year we’re going to use hoops and floating row covers with our raised beds and hopefully be able to have some things year ’round or at least through the winter.

  5. I’m a huge fan of fall gardening. I’m located in zone 5B and we currently can’t keep anything happy in this heat. I’ve been neglectful because I can’t take the heat either!

  6. Fall gardening? I thought only mums and ornamental cabbages grew in autumn…..after your ‘tutorial’, I know so much more about it…..That cabbage is too perfect!

    • Thanks. We aren’t huge cabbage eaters but I have always thought they looked so pretty in a garden so I grow them. :)

  7. I’ve never had a fall garden — I think by the time the summer gardening is done, I’m pooped! Great tips. Thanks so much for sharing at Rural Thursday this week.

    • Summer is tough, especially with the heat and it is hard to get into the rhythm of thinking about fall. I have your blog in my Google reader and have really enjoyed your posts and your photos. :)

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  9. Jenny we are just getting ready to plant our fall garden in the next week or two! Although we already know what we are going to plant…lots of asian greens this year I like my veggies and the rest of them will too even if they don’t know it yet and I adore kale its my favorite garden veggie besides tomatoes! Thanks for linking up this week to “The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post”!

    • We love Kale too! I’m a bit anxious because we are planning to move out to our acreage right at the end of summer/ first part of fall. We’re determined to have a fall garden and I’m just wondering how the timing is going to work. :/

  10. Jenny,
    Any tips about timing for planting a fall gardening in Oklahoma? Since I’m in SE Oklahoma, we are one zone south of you but I can adjust. Last year was my first fall garden and I was a bit off for some of the crops.

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