Categories: Herbs & Vegetables

Cultivate an organic vegetable garden throughout autumn

While the heat of summer may be reaching its peak, you’ll want to start thinking ahead to cooler days filled with cozy sweaters and hot cups of cider. Crisp autumn days may be the last thing on your mind right now, but if you want to continue vegetable gardening and harvesting your own fresh produce into the fall, you’ll want to get moving on your next round of seeds.

Know your first frost date
Where you live is going to have an impact on when you will need to plant your seeds for a fall harvest. Since the United States has a varied geography and climate, the exact date will differ for different regions. You can check with the Farmer’s Almanac, though, to find out when your state typically experiences its first frost of the year.

Decide what to plant
Deciding what seeds or transplants you want to plant for the fall is not much different than considering what you’ll grow in the spring or summer. You’ll want to make your decisions based on three gardening tips:

  • Know the length of time for seeds to germinate. While your immediate thoughts may turn toward planting a pumpkin vine in anticipation of autumn, it is typically too late to plant them in the late summer. Pumpkins can take anywhere between 85 to 125 days to reach maturity and are extremely sensitive to the frost. So, unless your region stays around 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the fall, you’ll want to grow something else.
  • Check the plant’s hardiness for your region’s fall climate. As is the case for pumpkins, some plants are more resistant to the cold than others. Some veggies, such as collards and lettuce, can even continue growing past the first frost.
  • Think of the types of meals you prepare in the fall. You may not realize it, but we all eat somewhat seasonally. While summer is filled with light meals and fresh flavors, the cooler days start inspiring us to make warmer, hearty meals in preparation of the coming winter.

Fall veggies to consider
Now that you know what to keep in mind while selecting your seeds, you can start preparing your garden as you begin to consider your veggie options. In order to make room for your new plants, pull out any of your summer ones that are no longer producing, whether they fell victim to pests or were burned out by the sun’s heat, and be sure to weed the area and add fresh compost if needed. Once your garden is ready, consider planting these veggies:

  • Beets grow wonderfully in the cooler weather and will play into the fall color palette perfectly when it comes to the appearance of your meals. Plant them deep to keep them cool and pick them before their roots grow over three inches long for a tender, flavorful vegetable.
  • Beans are great if you live in a climate with warmer falls or if you have at least two months until the first frost. The summer heat probably caused all your bean plants to fall limp and stop producing. Pull these plants out and replant new ones once the days of high heat are past. This way, you can have a fresh supply of beans for the falls soups and chilies.
  • Spinach is a great late fall vegetable, as the cooler weather helps the leaves retain a sweeter flavor. This hardy green can even survive past the first frost well into the early winter. Once the freezing weather arrives, stop picking leaves and protect with plastic. Spinach that is protected with a plastic cover or a blanketing of snow can actually survive the winter and produce fresh, sweet leaves when the spring arrives.