Fall Crop Planning Guide
Cooler fall weather doesn’t mean that the growing season is quite over. There are plenty of crops that you can still grow in your garden that will produce a large amount of fresh produce for your harvest table. Consider this fall crop planning guide to learn more about how to plant those cooler season crops this time of year.
Know Your Climate
One of the hardest parts of planting a fall garden is realizing that you are always working against the clock when it comes to the upcoming winter season. For some homeowners, this window of time for fall gardening is quite small due to first frost conditions that arrive in October or November. There are also some areas that see little to no fall season when going from hot Indian summers to freezing temperatures with only a few weeks in between. Other parts of the country see little to no frost or winter temperatures extending their fall season well into Christmas and beyond. Knowing how long a fall plant variety has to germinate and grow to maturity before the first frost in your area is essential when growing a fall garden.
Keep an Eye on The Weather
No two years are the same weather wise so it is essential that any fall gardener keeps a keen eye on the weather. Watch the overnight low temperatures closely in order to keep developing produce from freezing and consider covering produce at night to keep them slightly warmer if temperatures do hover around the freezing level. Watch for unusual weather patterns, like an unexpected storm, that could quickly bring freezing temperatures to your area within a few hours as well.
Growing lettuce is just about the easiest thing that you can do in a fall garden. Lettuce does best when planted in rows in a sunny part of the garden. Consider stagger planting the lettuce which means that you will sow seeds at different times. This will allow you to harvest the first row while having more lettuce to come in the next couple of weeks. Planting lettuce every two weeks all throughout the fall is a great way to provide fresh produce for fall salads well into the first parts of winter. Many lettuce varieties can handle a light frost as well making this a great option for those climates that have shorter fall growing seasons.
This zesty vegetable pairs well with lettuce because you can harvest both at the same time for a great salad to add to any meal. Radish is a quick growing fall plant that should be planted in rows at least 4 weeks before the first frost occurs in your area. Stagger the planting of radishes in order to supplement a continuous supply of these little beauties all season long. Harvest them at any time but be warned that the smaller radishes have quite the punch of flavor.
Three Sisters- Corn, Bean, and Squash
One of the more effective gardening tips is to do companion planting by using certain plants that play nice together in the garden and are beneficial to each other when planted together. The Three Sisters method of gardening incorporates corn, bean, and squash to be planted together for the most impact. The corn rises tall above the garden which allows the beans to climb up the corn stalks for the support that they need in order to mature. Squash is planted at the base of the trio allowing their large leaves to shade the ground which cuts down on weeds for all three varieties. The beans do their part in supplying the soil with important nitrogen that is needed for the corn and squash as well.
Know Plants That Act as Partners
Other fall plants that grow better when in close proximity to each other include radish and lettuce as they both have similar growing styles as well. Beets are another fall vegetable variety that are commonly grown in the fall and do better when grown near cabbage which is also easily cultivated in the cool fall season. Additionally, there are a number of plants and herbs that repel insects, lessening the need for pesticides.
Fall gardening is a great way to supply your family with plenty of fresh produce to eat as the weather cools down. Always keep in mind the timing of the first frost in your area and be aware of unusual weather patterns that may hinder the success of your fall garden. Use staggered planting practices for lettuce and radish as well as companion planting in order to get the most out of your fall garden. Use all of these fall crop planning guide tips when growing vegetables in a fall garden.
Julia Benson takes everything she does in the garden as an edible science project. She loves to experiment with different growing techniques to try to cultivate the most delicious and nutritious food she can.