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 is very important when planting a fall garden. If you’re planting tender vegetables, which are 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. The best time to plant a garden for fall harvest is in July and August.
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.
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.
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.