Fall Garden Fall Gardening
Springtime will soon be upon us in my part of the world, so it is time to start thinking about your garden. I already see an erratic array of gardeners buzzing around like June bugs on a summer night here in my area. We have a very strong and vibrant “Master Gardner” program in the area, and I noticed a marque announcing the latest garden event while I was out and about.
Yes it is time to start thinking about your garden! Your FALL garden. I know all you avid aficionados of the agricultural arts are already done with your planning for the spring, but it is never too early to think about the next season.
In our area, we have a pretty long growing season, broken by a short period of time when it is almost too hot to even be outdoors. During that period of time, if you already have a plan in place, you can begin to implement your autumn garden program.
You will have to think backwards from the way you think about garden planning in spring, substituting your average last frost dates, with average first frost dates, so that you begin planting early enough to get your crops harvested before the first killing frost.
Advantages to fall gardening:
- It is cool in the fall, well, sometimes.
- Insects are less of a problem.
- It extends your growing season, and your production.
- It’s just nice to be outdoors when the leaves are falling!
With just a little creative thinking, you can have almost any cole crop (I like kale, but you can use whatever you like, from cabbage to cole rabbi) growing late into the season, lettuce, and a wide variety of others such as pac choi, just think outside the box.
Extending the fall garden season
The fall garden growing season can be extended easily, and very simply by the addition of a cold frame or two. These can be built with simple materials like landscape timbers or treated wood, or some other material that does not rot easily in contact with the soil. Build them with an angle, with the lower part, or the front of the bed facing the south. You can be as simple, or as advanced as you like with the design. See also: Building A Simple Cold Frame
The frame can be used as a shade box to protect tender plants from the summer heat by adding a cover of 50% shade cloth, and as a greenhouse like environment to protect plants from the cold, by adding a cover of clear plastic. This will allow you to start your fall garden earlier, and keep it going latter.
These same cold frames can be used to enhance and speed up your spring garden as well, by providing the opportunity to start plants earlier. You can also use them for “hardening off” tender plants, and staggering plantings.
If you want to really enhance your fall gardening, you could even add a green house, but cold frames will do for most situations.
If you don’t garden in the fall already, give it a try. Fall gardening has many advantages, and your fall garden may just extend your vegetable production throughout the entire year. You might just have a fresh garden salad from your own garden on your Christmas dinner table!