With the oppressive heat and fierce summer sun of mid-summer, it might seem too early to begin preparations for your fall garden. However, just like with spring garden planning, getting a head start will help you make the most of the season.
Extend the Growing Season
Fall gardening is an opportunity to extend the growing season and use season extension techniques like hoop houses to continue growing and harvesting until the deep freeze of winter arrives. Soil temperatures inside the hoop house are several degrees warmer than those outside, allowing for slow, but consistent growth.
As the weather cools, the plants accumulate sugars in their leaves to avoid freezing, leading to a ‘sweeter’ overall taste. Hoop houses hold in moisture so with slower crop growth in late fall due to temperature changes and lower light intensities, crops require less supplemental watering. Click here to read more about hoop houses.
Grow Cool-Weather Crops
Cool weather crops, including lettuces, spinach, radishes, peas, and any vegetables in the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or kale, are great to sow by seed as a succession to the warm weather crops currently in the garden.
Our Fall Gardening Guide offers a list of crops and range of dates to plant or sow them, soil preparation techniques and more.
You can also read our Five Tips for Fall Gardening to get you started.
Fall is also the ideal time to plant garlic, refresh our gardens with compost, and add a fresh layer of mulch to keep the soil protected as temperatures drop.
If your goal is to allow the garden to rest after you harvest all warm weather crops, then sowing cover crops is a great way to replenish the soil nutrients allowing it to rejuvenate and be ready for the spring. Cover crops act like a blanket, preventing soil loss from wind and water erosion.
Their roots hold the soil in place and help to improve soil structure. During the process of decomposition, microorganisms and the decomposing cover crops produce sticky substances that glue soil particles together. This opens up air channels and also increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Click here to learn more about cover crops.
To help you make the most of fall gardening, stop by our annual Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, August 12th, 2023 from 10am – 3pm., where we’ll have cool-weather organic seedlings, cover crop seed, garlic for pre-order (pick up will be in early October), fruiting trees, compost, mulch, and Birdie garden beds.
In addition, we’ll have educational resources and activities to prepare you for a successful season extension.