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Tips for Planting a Fall Garden

Fall vegetables and the Mantis Deluxe 9-inch tiller

Planting a Fall or Second Season Garden

For many gardeners, the term "Fall Garden" is synonymous with a second season of cole crops (not to be confused with cold crops). Cole crops are vegetables from the brassica genus, most notably broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. These vegetable varieties are “cold tolerant” and actually grow and taste better when grown in the spring and fall… when average monthly temperatures are in the 60 - 70 degree range. During these early and later seasons, daytime high temperatures are around 80 degrees, while overnight temperatures are around 60 degrees.

However, you can have more vegetables this fall even if you don't want to plant broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower. There are lots of tender vegetable varieties that you can grow for a second harvest if you have 45 to 70 days remaining before your first anticipated frost.

Timing

Timing is very important when planting a fall garden. If you're planting tender vegetables – those that will be damaged or killed by frost – you need to have enough time left in your growing season for the vegetables to mature.

Space

The other main consideration when deciding on whether or not to plant a fall garden is space. If you harvested a spring crop of broccoli, or if you've "reclaimed" some space where you recently had squash plants or other vegetables that have finished producing, then you have space to enjoy the benefits of fall gardening. Of course, you can always expand your vegetable garden beyond its current boundaries. Or, you can experiment with growing late season vegetables in containers on a deck or patio.

Getting Started

Prepare your garden's soil as you would for spring planting. Remove any dead plants or weeds from the area, and add some compost, organic fertilizer, or dehydrated manure to improve your soil's fertility. Use your Mantis tiller to prepare the area, just as you would in the spring.

Tender Vegetables that Mature Quickly

Here's a short list of easy-to-grow tender vegetables that mature rather quickly:

  • Radishes – about 25 days
  • Tyee Spinach – 37 days
  • Summer Squash – 41 to 55 days, depending on the variety
  • Lettuce and Other Salad Greens – 45 to 50 days
  • Bush Cucumbers – 55 days
  • Other Spinach varieties – 55 days
  • Swiss Chard – 60 days
  • Carrots – 70 days

A Note about Cole Crops

Cole crops will generally mature about 8 weeks after transplants are set in the garden. If you have 12 to 14 weeks left in your growing season, you can start your own cole crop seedlings indoors now. If you want to buy bedding plants for cole crops, check your local garden center to see if they'll have any when you want them; or, check your favorite seed catalog company online. Our friends at Burpee® offer cole crop plants for fall gardening; and they'll mail them to you at the proper time for planting in your area.

Give it a Try!

So, if you've got some space and you have seeds for quick-maturing vegetables, why not give fall gardening a try? There's very little risk… and the rewards can be wonderful.

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