5 Tips for Fall Gardening
It’s the middle of August, and Northeast growers are awash in tomatoes, peppers, squash and eggplant. But just as these crops reach their peak, others set seed and die–leaving prime real estate for a fall garden.
Gardening in autumn means falling in tune with seasonal shifts: With shorter, cooler days ahead, crops grow more slowly; but, on the plus side, garden pests ease up. The approaching frost requires that we select fast-maturing, cold-tolerant crops; however, once you learn to work within the perimeters of late season gardening, you'll soon fall in love with its charms.
Get started on your late season harvests with our 5 Tips for Fall Gardening below.
Fall is a time for seed harvests.
ONE: MAKE A LIST.
Make a list of plants that you would like to grow this fall. What are your favorite fall dishes? Are you constantly craving hearty roasted vegetables, or do you veer more towards soul-warming soups? When you’ve created your list, consider varieties that fit into the cold hardy category, and do a bit of research to see if there are varieties that have a shorter maturity window. For instance, vegetables like our Early Wonder Tall Top Beet or Radiant Radish Mix are great fall vegetables to consider due to their shorter maturity window. For cold-hardy varieties, look to greens like Tokyo Bekana, Mache and Baby Bok Choy, which are all currently 25% off.
TWO: SCHEDULE YOUR SOWINGS
Add two weeks to the “days to maturity” on all of your late season sowings! Fewer daylight hours and cooler temps mean plants will grow a little more slowly than they do in spring and summer. Some gardeners call these extra two weeks "the fall factor." When scheduling your sowings always keep in mind this "fall factor" to ensure a sizable harvest. For visual scheduling guides visit our collection of Planting Guide Posters.
THREE: TIDY AS YOU GO.
Tidy up. Any extra leaf litter from previous plantings is the perfect hiding spot for garden pests. Dispose of litter, pull remaining weeds, and aerate the soil by raking through the top inch of your bed. We like using the Ninja Claw.
FOUR: AMEND YOUR SOIL
Amend your soil. If you are flipping a bed that was used for a previous vegetable or flower this summer, it’s likely that your soil is depleted of nutrients, such as nitrogen, which depletes faster than potassium and phosphorus. We recommend incorporating Hudson Valley Compost into the first 3" of soil and add a gentle fertilizer like Down to Earth’s Vegan Mix to your seedlings once their true leaves have sprouted.
FIVE: EXTEND THE SEASON
Extend your season. A little bit of row cover can go a long way. Use Row Cover up more tender crops like bush beans and lettuce to protect them not only from an unexpected frost, but pests as well. Row Cover is super easy to use, and it can add several weeks to your harvesting window.
Remember that all Asian Greens, Beets, Carrots, Radishes, Collards, Arugula, and Cilantro can all be sown (in succession, if you’d like!) until mid-September in our zone, 6a. And of course, don’t forget to leave room for Garlic and Shallots!
Summer's scorching heat, pest pressure, and weeds–not to mention a crop failure or two–can have us feeling a bit depleted. But don't let summer's constant pivoting dissuade you from the joys of fall: Remember, the weather will be cooler and the labor will be lighter (plus, fewer mosquitos!). Instead, take a breath and plant a few more seeds. A successful and bountiful harvest is well worth it.
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