5 Fall Planting Secrets You Should Know! Summer is in the rearview mirror and while the remnants (and possibly bounty) still remain, the diligent gardener is fully focused on fall! In this article, I give you my 5 methods for a successful fall garden, as well as my big list of autumn plants and when to plant them. Enjoy Reading!
Gardening in the fall can definitely have some restrictions, such as cooler temperatures, shorter day lengths, inclement weather, and maybe some plant restrictions. But don’t think of it as limiting at all. While we’re not going to be growing the grapes here much longer, there’s a lot of pluses to fall gardening.
Little to no pests, much more comfortable weather to garden you know at least in the beginning, no drought worries, and groups of plants that actually enjoy the cooler weather that you’ve been itching for waiting to grow.
So below are the five things I do to ensure my fall garden is in tip-top shape. I’ll go through all of them, as well stick around to the end where I give my big list of fall plants and when to plant them.
5 Fall Planting Tips
1. Pick the right plants for fall planting
The days are getting shorter, colder, damper, darker and the window of time before winter has never been closer. Fall gardening will only be successful if you choose the right plants for the job, but it’s no small list and you’ll have your choice of some gardening favorites.
Direct seeders like beets, carrots, peas, and transplanted starters like broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce chard, and kale. Whichever plants you choose you’re going to want to make note of their days to maturity in relation to your first fall frost date.
It’s never more important than at this time of year and not everyone is going to be able to plant the same things at the same time.
2. Watch out for shade
Our next tip is to watch the shade. No, don’t literally sit down and watch the shade, what I mean is that a sunny and warm bed in July might be in full shade by the time September rolls around.
The further we get away from that summer solstice the lower the sun gets in the sky. Fall plants still need sunshine and depending on structures such as your house and tall objects such as trees may mean that some of your garden beds are no longer suitable for growing plants.
Watch the shadows and make sure each crop can still get its recommended sun levels. What we took for granted in the spring and summer might not apply here.
Our third tip is timing, timing is everything. Just because you can grow peas doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be able to grow peas and that you can just plant them whenever you want. This is in relation to your frost date which is different for everyone and you’re going to have to look it up for your area.
There are two frost dates for everyone that lives in temperate climates that experience a true winter there’s one in the spring and one in the fall.
We’re concerned with the one in the fall, it’s when the balmy days of summer are behind us. The first day where there’s a greater than 50 chance of frost that night. For some people, that’s in September and for others like me, it’s not until November. Whenever it is you have to look it up because it’ll dictate not only when you can still plant but what you can plant.
4. Use Starter Plants in fall planting
One massive tip for a successful garden especially in the fall is to grow from starter plants. Just like we do in the spring starting our seeds early indoors allows us to play a lot more loosely with the planting dates as our margin for timing error increases by multiples.
In the spring it’s much too cold outside to plant our summer crops early. So we start many of our warm weather staples early indoors and this allows us to hit the ground running when our soil temperatures finally warm up giving us near-instant crops.
Fall starter plants also enjoy that head start but it’s a bit of a different situation. Fall starter plants are often waiting very patiently for our summer crops to vacate the area before they can move in.
In the case of extended summers or stubbornly awesome plants that keep producing, this can mean that that planting window for our fall crops shrinks to an impossibly narrow margin.
By starting the fall plants indoors way earlier even during mid-summer we can go ahead and plant a bit later and not worry about crop maturity being cut short by that ever-important first frost date.
5. You Gotta Mulch!
And our final tip is just a basic fundamental of gardening regardless of the time of year and that’s mulching. I always love to repeat and repeat the benefits of mulching.
In the summer, we mulch to mitigate those heat extremes, trap in moisture to our soil profile, especially at the top, and suppress weeds from sprouting back up.
In the fall it’s sort of the opposite but equally as effective. A nice thick layer of mulch will insulate and keep those plants snug, distribute moisture more evenly as precipitation amounts rise, and well still suppress the weeds.
The most commonly used mulch is straw as it doesn’t clump, it’s inexpensive and it has a high insulating factor. You can also use shredded leaves, grass clippings, or even mixtures, experiment, and have fun with it.
Growing vegetables in the fall can be a gardener’s dream, with little to no pests, no drought, and cooler temperatures making the work way more enjoyable, and hopefully, these five tips help you on your quest for that epic autumn bounty.
Fall Plant List
Hold on just a second, let’s not forget about that big list of fall plants that I promised earlier. For me, the crops for fall planting are divided into three categories, and the times in which you can plant them vary slightly.
Use this list in these times as a guide, every region is different and although these planting dates here are relative to your frost date it’s not always that simple.
I live in a relatively mild climate with a winter that takes its time to get here as such my first fall frost date and actual winter are quite far apart. This gives me a greater effective window for growing and a larger margin of error for most of my fall plants.
Just be aware that if you have a cursory fall your planting dates might be a bit earlier. Okay like we said there are three different categories for fall plants.
- On the one hand, we have direct-seeded plants like beets, carrots, peas, spinach, and green onions. Direct sow these guys at least six weeks before your first fall frost date to get them fully established and growing before winter hits.
- The next category is the leafy starter crops. Things such as kale, collards, chards, and lettuces. Start these guys indoors eight-plus weeks before your first fall frost and then plant them outside in the garden at least three weeks before that same date.
- Finally, we have the fruiting starter plants. These are heavy hitters like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbages. You gotta start these guys ten plus weeks indoors early preferably even before that. That fruiting head needs time to develop. Get them started early and in the ground a month or more before frost hits to give them that window of time they need.
Of course, this list is not finite there are many more crops suitable for fall growing. Universally though these crops seem to do well pretty much everywhere and they’ll be a great starting point for your autumn endeavors.
Hey thanks so much for reading guys, I appreciate the support more than you know and if you’re getting value from this article please share them to spread the word and help your fellow gardener to grow better. Happy Gardening!