Fall Veggie Fun
Even though it’s still hot and sticky outside, if you are a veggie gardener it’s time to start thinking fall... Some gardeners simply keep their tomatoes, peppers, and herbs going as long as they can and start their slow denouement into winter. Others may be excited about starting over again with a fall garden, which is basically spring 2.0! Read on for tips on how both types of gardeners can make the most of fall in the garden.
Maintenance for the fall garden:
No matter how much actual growing you plan to do in the fall garden there will always be some basic maintenance tasks that need doing. Continuing harvests, controlling pests, mulching, pruning and soil building are all important in the fall.
Check the leaves and stems of your plants regularly and be ready to quickly address any pest problems. This will keep your plants healthy and producing longer. As you inspect your plants you can also trim back perennials in preparation for winter.
Mulch perennials in preparation for colder weather. You can also mulch hardy greens and root veggies to help extend your season a little bit, too. Tougher fall veggies - like carrots and greens - can withstand a light frost if protected with mulch. Read more about season extension strategies below...
Fall is also a great time for adding compost and building soil health. As you trim back spent annuals and perennials add a couple of inches of compost to the beds so you’ll be prepared for early spring planting.
What to Plant in the fall:
Interested in keeping your garden going until (or maybe even a little after) frost? Great! There is still a lot that you can plant in your garden. And some you can honestly plant pretty late in the year. Here are some last planting dates from commonly grown fall veggies in Chicago (USDA zone 6a).
- Beets - plant seeds by late August
- Carrots - plant seeds by late August
- Chard - plant seeds by mid-August, plant transplants by mid-September
- Kale - plant seeds by mid-August for full leaves or mid-September for “baby” kale, plant transplants by mid-September
- Head Lettuce - plant seeds by mid-August, plant transplants by mid-September
- Leaf Lettuce - plant seeds early to mid September, plant transplants mid to late September (depending on variety)
- Mustard Greens - Plant seeds by mid September, plant transplants by mid to late September
- Peas - plant seeds by late August for full plants, plant seeds by late September if you only want pea shoots
- Radishes - Plant seeds by end of September (depending on variety - most take 28-35 days to mature)
- Spinach - Plant seeds by early September, plant transplants by late September
If you aren’t in Chicago you’ll need to adjust these last planting times back a little bit, but there is still much you can plant now depending on where you are gardening...
Looking to purchase some fall veggies for transplant? City Grange has you covered! Check out our fall pre-sale items HERE.
Lastly, fall gardeners may be interested in considering season extension. There are lots of options to extend your growing season no matter how much money or time you have to invest in your garden. The first is mulch. Mulch can help keep the ground warm in the face of a light frost which can extend the life of root veggies and hardy greens in your fall garden. Read more about mulch HERE.
If you have more interest and resources you can also consider cloches, row covers, and even temporary greenhouses to further extend your harvest.