Last week I suggested that you start thinking about what plants you want to grow in your fall garden. I’m sure by now you know that they’re all going to be cool weather crops. Most people think about what they planted in the springtime. Most of those same plants can be planted for a late fall crop.
The first group would be the cabbage family, and that would include different types of cabbage, like red or green with different leaf patterns. Next would be:
- Brussel sprouts
Go to your seed catalogs and pick out the varieties that you think you would like to try. You will not find these as transplants in your garden centers, because traditional row gardeners have ruined gardening for us for the rest of the year. How and why? They let their row gardens go to seed and stopped weeding because it was too much work. That gave everyone a defeatist attitude and everyone stopped gardening midway through the summer. Yes, they still picked a few tomatoes and cucumbers if they could get through all the weeds, but gardening was pretty much over except for the battle cry of all row gardeners – “Just wait until next year!” We used to blame that saying on Cubs fans, but it’s just as appropriate for row gardeners.
Get your favorite seed catalog. I’m looking right now at my Jung catalog and there are so many different varieties of cabbages. Six varieties of different colors and leaf growth patterns. Then consider other plants similar to cabbage that you might want to try. One would be celery and another would be pak choi, as well as its cousin, chinese cabbage. Cauliflower and broccoli also come in a variety of colors and shapes.
Don’t be looking at all of the summer warm weather crops, like:
They’re all going to be finished for the year very soon. If you didn’t have corn this year, it’s too late now to start planting it, unless you live in some of the southern states that don’t experience frost.
Then there’s the root crops. All kinds of carrots, beets, and radishes. Try something different! A new color, a new shape, or a new size. Don’t forget to save your unused seeds in a Ziploc bag in a refrigerator so they’re ready for next spring.
The last group of fall cool weather planting would be all of the leaf plants like lettuce and spinach. Again, there are many different colors, shapes, and varieties in the seed catalogs. Look for some that are particularly cold-resistant and you’ll be able to carry them right into the winter. Some of you, with a little protection (talked about in the ALL NEW SFG book), can grow them all winter long. They don’t grow fast in the cold weather, so you won’t have as large a harvest, but you will still be successful. Even those that get frost in freezing weather, like spinach, can continue to grow and be harvested with the proper protection.
The next question to ask yourself is when to plant. Last week I told you exactly where to go (local ag agent). Take that date to page 259 of the book, and that will tell you exactly when you are going to start planting seeds of all of those varieties you selected.
The last question is where to plant them. Hopefully you’ll be taking your summer crop out at the right time and will be able to replace that with your fall crop. Remember to add a handful of homemade compost to each square foot before you plant. For the large plants that you have to start very early (all of the cabbage family that take a while to grow into transplant size), you may want to start them indoors. If you want to go outdoors, designate one of your empty squares as a nursery and plant the seeds right in the soil. When they become large enough to transplant, just take them out and put them in the right square. For indoors, just treat them as you would in the spring when you’re starting your summer crop seedlings of summer plants. They could be planted to sprout as shown in the ALL NEW SFG book on page 123 and then transplanted into a 6 pack, which should be kept outside in the garden. Lastly, you transplant them into their final square.
Question: how many plants can you start in a 1 sq. ft. nursery? You can subdivide that square foot into 2″ squares which would give you 36 squares. Poke your pencil in the center of each one of those and you’ll have room for 36 transplants. Does all that make sense? Does it sound exciting and easy? It’s a great time to start a new planting because there should be very little work in the garden now. Mostly just watering and harvesting. I guarantee you’re going to not only enjoy your fall crop, but you will say to yourself (as I do) that it’s the best, most productive, and most fun crop of the year. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.