Some home growers are intimidated by fall growing because of the cooler temperature, especially since most of their current crops are suited for summer. But a lot of vegetables thrive during fall, so you can still enjoy a bountiful harvest when the temperature drops.
The trick is to choose the right crops. Fall is the season for growing various hardy greens that flourish in cold temperatures, such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens. Fast-growing root crops and some spring-harvested vegetables also get a second chance in autumn. Some even taste sweeter and crisper when matured in cooler temperatures.
The first step is to get the timing right for planting your fall seeds.
Most autumn crops are seeded in mid- to late summer when the soil is dry. The timing can make it difficult to establish roots, but you have to plant early because growing days are limited.
Many cold-weather crops, such as spinach and lettuce, won’t germinate when the temperature is too high. Full-coverage garden watering systems can help since they surround all plants with water, helping to maintain consistent soil moisture and prevent overly wet or overly dry patches in your garden. You can also build a hoop house over your garden bed using a shade cloth to shelter your crops from the hot sun. This will help your seeds and seedlings take root even if you plant them in mid-summer.
One trick is to determine the first frost date in your location and the days to maturity of the crops you want to grow. Add one to two weeks to the maturing time indicated on seed packs to account for shorter, cooler days. This information will help you calculate when best to plant.
Four Fall Veggies to Grow!
Spinach is among the most cold-tolerant salad green. It can survive some light frost, making it the perfect autumn crop. The cold temperature also helps the spinach produce tastier leaves.
Plus, spinach and other leafy greens grow well in raised garden beds. Leafy greens despise soggy roots, so they love the quick-draining soil in raised beds.
Spinach Growing Guide
Sow spinach seeds as early as six weeks before the last frost, or as soon as you can get a trowel into the soil. Be sure to buy fresh seeds every year because spinach seeds don’t store well. Seed heavily because not all of them will germinate.
Spinach is a leafy green, so it will greatly benefit from a hoop house or cold frame. Once the seedlings have at least two true leaves, thin them to three or four inches apart to prevent overcrowding. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Hand-pulling weeds and cultivating can harm the spinach roots. Instead, layer a light mulch of grass clippings, hay, or straw on the soil along the spinach rows to hinder weed growth.
Replant a fresh batch of seeds every two weeks to have spinach growing until winter.
Lettuce is the base of a fall salad garden. Apart from giving