Although it may still feel like summer and you aren’t seeing pumpkins everywhere yet, fall is just around the corner. (PSA: If you didn’t already know, Starbucks has already brought back the ever-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte. You’re welcome.:)) Now is the time to start preparing and planting your fall/winter vegetable garden. Some of you may have started that process, and regardless of whether you have, you were planning to start this weekend, or you just remembered after seeing this post, we have information that will be useful for you.
Benefits of Fall Planting
If you are a skeptic, fall is actually a perfect time because you usually have a longer window of time during which you are able to plant. You may also have a longer harvest season than your spring/summer garden. Many of the vegetables you plant will even grow through moderate and freezing temperatures. The cooler temps (when they actually arrive) also mean less weeds to deal with (YESS!).
Planting Your Fall Garden
Step 1: Get the Spring Garden Out of the Way
You may have some vegetables still producing harvest, and if you do, you will want to keep those lovelies going until there is no harvest left. But for the areas of your garden that have spent plants, get them outta there to make room for the new lovelies you want to pop in.
Step 2: Prep the Soil
Even if you took lots of loving care in the Spring to prepare the soil, you need to do it again. No exceptions. Those spring and summer veggies did their very best to suck all the nutrients out of the soil, so you need to add that back. Here is how you should prep the soil:
- Till 8-10 inches down into the soil. You can do this a variety of ways:
- Remove any rocks, weeds, buried treasure, and clumps you find. If you have planted in our area at all, you know how much clay is in the soil. You won’t be able to get it all out (nor do you have to), but will you want to remove those large clumps.
- Amend the soil by adding 2-3 inches of compost, peat moss, or other amendment you prefer and mix in with the existing soil.
- If you fertilized heavily in the spring, no need to do so now. But if you didn’t, use 10-10-10 fertilizer and add approximately 1-2 pounds per 100 square feet of garden space. (Make sure to follow the directions on the fertilizer you choose.)
- After you have finished blending all the good stuff, the soil should be crumbly and moist. Rake it flat.
- Water the soil. Yes, without the seeds or plants. Then wait a day or two.
- Voila. Soil is prepped and ready.
Step 3: Seeds or Baby Plants?
The type of vegetable you want to plant will most likely determine whether you want to start from seed or with a plant that has already been started for you. Many of you will choose to do a combination of both. Whether you choose seeds or plants, some of your veggies will be best planted at staggered times. Plant a row every or every other week so that you have a continual harvest. (We love the NC State Extension sites for all things agriculture and you can find a lot of great info there about all things planting-related).
Plants that will do well from seed:
- Carrots (will take a while to be ready to harvest)
- Some onions
If you are planting from seed, here are some tips:
- Seeds should be planted about 1.5-2 times as deep as you planted seeds in the spring. (But do follow directions on the package).
- Seeds require moist soil to germinate, so you will want to make sure you are watering regularly or have your irrigation system up and running. (For those who winterize your systems, have your back-up plan ready by November/December.)
- Keep in mind, certain seeds (lettuce, spinach) will not germinate if it is over 85° F. So you may want to wait until temps cool to sow those seeds.
- When you do sow your seeds, there are some things you can do to keep the soil cool:
- Cover with burlap, mulch, shade cloth, boards or even newspaper (make sure you secure with rocks or such).
- Be sure to remove the coverings once your seeds have germinated.
- If you are sowing seeds later in the season, just make sure to leave room for them in the garden.
Plants that will do well from baby plants:
- Lettuce (yes, they do well from seed, too)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Swiss Chard
When transplanting your baby plants, keep these things in mind:
- Follow the planting directions that come with your plant.
- Plant so that the soil in the container and the soil in your garden are at the same level.
- If your plant came in a peat container, you can plant it in the container, but you will want to remove the rim sticking up over the stop of the soil.
Step 4: Water, Weed and Watch Your Plants Grow
Once your seeds and/or plants are safely in your well-prepped soil, you will want to water them well. Remember to give your veggies at least an inch of water a week. As they grow, even though there may be less of them, the weeds will grow, too. Stay on top of keeping your garden weeded, and your veggies will thank you. (Your tummy will, too.) This weekend, we will have lots of fall veggies ready to go in the ground! Come see us and we will help you bring green (veggies) home!