Late-Start Fall Vegetables

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The year may be winding down quickly, but that’s no reason to stop gardening. Many varieties of vegetables can still be sowed at this time of year. Just because temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean that you want to live on meat and potatoes alone. Balance out your fall and winter meals with fresh veggies from your own garden!

Timing

Timing is everything when it comes to planting fall vegetables, though a little math may be required. To be able to accurately pinpoint the best dates for planting your favorite autumn crops, you’ll first want to determine the average first fall frost date. Count backwards from this date using the number of days a particular crop takes to harvest plus two weeks, since many plants grow more slowly in the fall.

Preparation

‘Tis the season for fall produce so it’s time to turn over a new leaf in your garden. Since young plants need room to grow and prosper, remainders from the summer season—such as previously harvested produce, plants that underperformed, and weeds—should be removed from the veggie garden. If you’re intending to plant a fall garden in clay-rich soil, apply some compost before beginning so that your veggies have the best chance to thrive. High-quality seed-starting mix will jumpstart the growth of your new crops that will be sown into the ground. Meanwhile, any plants started in containers need clean environments to take root and prosper. Containers that experienced wear and tear during the spring and summer months need some attention before being reused. Combine one part bleach with ten parts water for a cleaning solution strong enough to sanitize these vessels. Your plants will thank you.

Maintenance

To maintain the health of your fall veggies, give them an inch of water each week. When considering how to distribute these waterings throughout the week, consider that mature plants benefit best from one deep pour per week instead of lighter sprinklings throughout each seven-day period. Lengthen the fall planting season by protecting your produce. Cloches work for small, individual plants, but alternative solutions make more sense for larger areas. Sheets, blankets, tarps, and row covers can be used to cover vulnerable plants when frost becomes a threat.

Fast Growers

If you’re antsy for fall veggies or wary of cold-season frost, never fear. When selecting seeds, it’s wise to look for varieties that take a relatively short amount of time to mature. It only takes some varieties forty days or fewer to establish themselves before they’re ready to be harvested. Gardeners in a hurry should consider planting arugula, mustard, spinach, turnips, Asian greens, and radishes in September. The fruits of this labor will be ready to eat in only four weeks.

Frost-resistant Varieties

It can be difficult to find fresh and healthy food in the winter, when it’s too cold for many varieties of vegetables to survive. Enjoy fresh veggies for months by planting a second crop of cold-resistant varieties. Thankfully, spinach and kale are particularly hardy vegetables perfect for well-rounded cold-weather diets. These reliable crops are so strong that they can continue to develop as late in the year as early winter. To increase your chances of success with spinach, thin the plants when they become too crowded and stop picking their leaves once frosts sets in. Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, rutabagas, Swiss chard, and turnips are also credible candidates for cold-season gardening. Plant these healthy crops at the end of the year and you’ll be sustained until spring!

 

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