Fall Vegetable Gardens

It’s not too late to plant a garden. Granted, you have to be selective, but get busy this week, and you will soon harvest the rewards of a fall garden.

As the days begin to shorten and cool, certain crops will flourish.

I have cleared my raised beds of remaining bolted lettuce and a few weeds and am now ready for fall planting of leaf lettuce and spinach. Both should mature before the first heavy frost.

The lettuce will be ready in about a month, the spinach a bit longer if I want full-size leaves, but baby spinach is tender and delicious. Although I have never planted green onions this late, I may throw a few of those in the beds and see what happens.

The ground is much warmer now than when planting in the early spring, so I will place the seeds just a tad deeper in the soil aiming to give them a cooler start. Steady watering is key. From a gardening viewpoint we have been lucky this year and had steady rain.

Early in the season, I bought soaker hoses to run through the gardens of the little house on a big hill but have yet to open the roll. I feel guilty being thankful for the summer rains – my garden has never looked better, but I know other communities have suffered from high water and flooding.

Along with lettuce and spinach, I will add my left-over carrot seeds. My spring carrot crop was embarrassing. I had beautiful green tops and orange stubs. I am not letting it stop me from trying again. 

I will loosen the soil and make sure I add organic matter when planting the seeds.

Radishes mature quickly and can be planted in the fall months. Carrots, radishes, and other root vegetables love the cold, and a few nights of light frost may nip the green tops but will only make the roots taste sweeter.

No worries if your garden space is still in full swing with tomatoes and pepper plants – most of these fall veggies can be grown in containers. Swiss Chard is a crop that will grow in the shorter days of fall and, as the leaves grow, will provide a lovely container for the fall patio.

Bugs love the garden. A friend is battling cabbage caterpillars in her garden, and at this point, they are winning and making a mess, but she is fighting back and working hard to save her plants. 

Slugs may find their way to the garden. If you are not squeamish, pull them off and toss them in the weed pile or a bucket of water. Remember, they don’t like sharp surfaces, so a stone border may deter them.

I didn’t mention garlic which is also planted in the fall. For more details about garlic, visit the Gazette’s  Good to Grow archives or my website www.gardeninginpearls.com.  I will wait a few more weeks before adding garlic to my garden. I want the nights (and the soil) to be consistently cooler. Remember, it will not be harvested until early summer.

Summer may be waning, but the garden still has some life to live and give. An hour or two spent planting fall vegetables will reward you with fresh greens and the joy of hanging on to the vegetable garden for a few more weeks.