Planting a fall vegetable garden is one way to extend your garden’s harvest. Start 8 weeks from your first expected frost date and plan your fall garden from there. Keep in mind that certain crops can be overwintered in areas that get enough snow cover. Another reason to plant a fall garden is there are fewer insects to deal with.
When to Plant
Plant your fall vegetable garden 8 weeks prior to the first frost date. If you are not sure what day that is, contact your local cooperative extension office. They will be glad to help you. Count back 8 weeks from this date. That is when you should plant the fall vegetable garden.
What to Plant
Plant cool weather crops for late fall or early winter harvest. In some areas, it will be quite hot when the fall garden is planted. That is okay, especially if you are starting plants from seeds.
Root crops such as carrots, beets and radishes are good choices for a fall vegetable garden. Other choices can include peas, lettuce, spinach, assorted greens, pole or bush beans. All of these plants will grow quickly during late summer heat. They will appreciate the cooler fall weather that follows.
Plan to harvest most of the fall garden just as the cold weather arrives. Once temperatures start to dip into the 40’s overnight, your growing season will end soon unless you use cloches or cold frames.
Growing into Winter
Depending on your location, you can harvest vegetables from a fall garden into winter. Some crops like carrots can be covered with a thick layer of mulch. They will keep overwinter in the ground. Lettuce and greens will survive in a cold frame. Snow peas can tolerate near freezing temperatures without protection. They will perform well in a cold frame.
Individual plants can be protected from frost or allowed to grow under cloches. These can be as simple as a soda bottle with the bottom cut off. Place the bottomless bottle over the plant. Keep the cap and close it at night if the temperatures will drop much below 40 degrees. Remove the cap during warm sunny days in order to prevent cooking your plant.
Plant a fall vegetable garden this year. It will extend your garden harvest and reduce the money you spend on groceries.
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