Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden
Get your garden ready for fall vegetables with planning and preparation
Fall is a great time of year to plant a vegetable garden. The weather is cool, the pests stay away and fall vegetables are nutritious and comforting. Keeping a healthy garden takes planning and the right conditions; fall is no exception. With these simple tips, planting fall vegetables can be enjoyable and your garden will flourish season after season.
Prep the soil for planting fall vegetables
The first step in planting a fall vegetable garden is to prep the soil. Survey your garden and make sure you clear away any debris, rocks or fallen vegetables and plants. You will also want to take care in removing weeds from the soil. There are several methods for removing weeds. For fall preparation for a vegetable garden, try to stay away from using chemicals and sprays and seek organic methods for removal.
With the heat of the summer months, your will find most soil has become compacted and dry. When planting a fall vegetable garden, you will need to spend some time breaking up the soil so that new roots have plenty of room to flourish. Depending on the size of your garden, you might need different tools to get the job done. Smaller gardens can be moved around with a pitchfork or cultivator, while a bigger space, or one that’s especially compact, might require a garden tiller. If you are going to use a garden tiller, make sure you consult the operator’s manual before you begin and observe all safety suggestions. Once the soil is broken up, you can till in compost or manure to add valuable nutrients back to the soil.
Choose what crops you’ll be planting in your fall vegetable garden
When you are considering what crops to use when planting a fall vegetable garden, consider those that do best in cooler weather and can survive the first frost. Timing is everything in a fall garden as you must plant in time for the vegetables to mature before the cold weather. Depending on where you live, these temperatures will vary so consult a Farmer’s Almanac for dates that make sense for you. For the most part, root vegetables such as beets, radishes and carrots are a staple for fall gardens. Greens also do well in fall gardens so consider adding lettuce, cabbage and collards to your fall vegetable list. Some fall greens, such as spinach and kale, can grow early into the winter so you can eat them year-round. And don’t forget fall favorites like pumpkins and squash that are perfect for making pies and soups to warm up winter days.
If you are planting a fall vegetable garden, crop rotation is a great way to keep the nutrients in the soil balanced. The easiest way to do this is to avoid planting the same crop (or a crop that needs similar nutrients) in the same space in your garden season after season. While the science behind crop rotation can be a little mysterious, the concept is simple. Each crop in your garden interacts with the soil and the elements a little differently. Some vegetables are calcium hogs and others always attract pests, while some are great for suppressing weeds and don’t take as much nutrients from the soil. When you are in the middle of fall preparation for a vegetable garden, it is best to create a plan to help you rotate your plants from one season to the next.
Monitor temperature levels and frost warnings
Remember, as the temperature starts to drop, you might need to monitor your garden more closely to protect your crops from frost. You can cover your garden with burlap or plastic to take added precaution. With the correct planning and frost protection you can enjoy a long harvest and even have fall vegetables available into the early winter months. Now that you have these preparation tips, you are ready to start planting fall vegetables!
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