Most of us associate the excitement of gardening with the early spring when it starts to warm up for the growing season but fall gardening has made a huge comeback within the past few years. As many of your cool season crops can be grown in both the spring and fall, there are a lot of options when it comes to getting a good harvest out of your fall garden. Whether you have a garden throughout the spring and summer and want to extend your season, or you are getting a late start, below are some great options for your fall garden.
Peas are a great option when it comes to fall gardening! Although you may not get as large of a harvest in the fall compared to the spring, it is still worth planting a crop of your favorite variety. Peas do best when planted directly into the garden rather than being transplanted and will need a trellis or fence to climb up. Most pea varieties mature within 55-75 days, meaning that you need to plant at least 2 months before your first frost. As there are several different varieties of shelling, snap, and snow peas to choose from, consider how you want to use the harvest, how/if you will preserve them, and how quickly you want to harvest! Some of our favorites include Penelope, Early Frosty, Oregon Sugar Pod, and Cascadia.
As a root vegetable, carrots prefer a cooler growing season, making fall the ideal time to plant. When growing carrots, it is important to have deep, loose soil to allow the carrots to grow long roots. Plant seeds only 1/8” deep and roughly 2-3” apart for optimal growing conditions. It is best to plant carrots 10-12 weeks before your first frost in the fall to give them ample time to mature prior to the cold weather setting in. Water carrots a few times a week if you are not getting much rain but try not to over water as it can cause the roots to split. Some smaller carrot varieties include Little Finger, Danvers Half Long, and Royal Chatenay while Sugarsnax and Tendersweet produce longer roots.
One of the easiest veggies to grow, lettuce makes a great addition to any fall garden. With a wide selection of varieties available to the home gardener, you can easily find options that suit your needs. When growing lettuce, you can either start seeds in trays and transplant them into the garden, or direct sow. If you are growing iceberg, butterhead, or romaine varieties be sure to space plants out enough to allow them to mature to the appropriate size. When growing loose leaf varieties, you can typically spread seeds over the area you want to plant and take cuttings as you wish throughout the gardening season. Most lettuce varieties are not heat tolerant, so it is important to wait until the end of summer to get your fall crop planted. Popular varieties include Buttercrunch, Paris Island Romaine, Black Seeded Simpson, and Green Salad Bowl.
Radishes are easy to grow and can add great flavor to salads and sandwiches! Plant radishes in an area with loose soil and plenty of sunlight to allow them to flourish. As radishes can mature in as little as 23 days, they can be planted from late summer through the fall. Available in many shapes, sizes, and colors, they are a fun veggie to experiment with in your garden. French Breakfast matures in only 23 days and produces beautiful, elongated pink and white roots that are firm and crisp. Watermelon Radish is another popular variety known for its white outer wall, and bright watermelon red centers!
Cucumbers are versatile and can be grown throughout a lot of the growing season. For a fall crop plant cucumbers in July or early August at the very latest. Cucumbers prefer to grow in the warmer part of spring and fall, rather than in the heat of summer. Typically maturing in 45-60 days, try and choose a variety that is early maturing for fall planting, especially if you are a little late getting your seeds in the ground. Cucumbers can also be transplanted into the garden, so check with your local garden center if you missed out on getting seeds started. Some popular early maturing varieties include Bush Pickle, Homemade Pickles, Bush Crop.
This tasty little vegetable is making a comeback after generations of having a bad reputation. Correctly prepared Brussel sprouts add great flavor, and nutrients to any meal! Given that they take nearly 100 days to mature, plants need to be started by early June and can be transplanted into the garden throughout July and early August. If you missed the window for starting from seed, check your local garden center to find plants. Rewarding to grow and increasingly popular, give growing Brussel sprouts a try this fall!
Spinach provides a lot of great nutritional benefits, and it is easy to grow in a fall garden! Fast to mature, direct sow seeds from late summer up until about 30 days before your first frost. Spinach can also be grown in the early winter months with some protection from the cold air and snow. Plant seeds ½” deep and space them 3-5” apart for the best results. Olympia spinach is a great variety that produces well throughout the year and will stand up to cooler temperatures in the fall. If you are looking for baby leaf spinach, try Seaside Hybrid as it produces uniform, small dark-green leaves!
Last, but not least, beets make an excellent addition to any fall garden. Like other root crops, beets prefer the cooler weather, and are relatively simple to grow. Plant in an area with loose, well-draining soil to give the roots a healthy environment. Sow seeds about ½” deep and 2-3” apart in an area that receives at least 6 hours of light per day. On average beets mature in about 60 days, meaning you should try and plant about 2 months before your first frost. Beets can tolerate light frosts, so don’t worry if you get your seeds planted a little later in the season. Some of our most popular beet varieties include Detroit Dark Red and Red Ace. If you are looking for a unique variety, the Chioggia Striped has beautiful red and white striped flesh, sure to add beautiful color to any meal.
Happy growing! If you have any questions regarding fall gardening, please give us a call at 717-299-2571 or email email@example.com!