Plenty of pluses in fall gardening

Plenty of pluses in fall gardening

Lots of us don’t think about planting a garden in the fall, but it’s the perfect time for cool season veggie growing. We probably won’t have to worry about frost until mid November or later, so that gives weeks and weeks of “grow time.”

Fall is a great time for planting because the plants get plenty of sun but not as much heat. Spinach, lettuce and radishes are some options for your garden as they like the cooler nights of early fall. Another advantage of fall gardening is that there are usually fewer insect pests as the temperature goes down. Even weeds grow a little slower, which gives the plants a little less competition. You might need less water in a fall garden, and you certainly will enjoy pulling weeds more with the slightly cooler temperatures

Spinach grown from seed is a great plant for your fall garden. You should sow a little more thickly than a spring crop because the warm soil will keep some seeds from germinating. Keep the soil moist by watering regularly and topping with organic mulch as soon as you see little seedlings. You can start pinching and eating little leaves in a few weeks. Spinach takes about a month to mature fully.

Leaf lettuce is good to grow when the temperatures fall below the 80s. You can start clipping little lettuce leaves to make a salad in about a month. If we have an occasional extra hot fall day just give the baby plants a little shade with a temporary sheet or canopy propped up on sticks.

Radishes grow fast. Look for round classic radish shapes or the fancy French oval shaped seed pack. They are ready to pick in three to four weeks. Keep the soil moist, and the radishes will taste better.

Beets are another favorite choice for fall gardens. Experts suggest soaking the seeds for a few hours or overnight before planting. You can even use the young sprouts in a tasty salad while the beets continue to mature. Keep the beets watered well and wait about a month for the greens and 50 days for the beets.

This is the time to clean up the summer mess in your garden. Add organic matter to your soil and loosen the garden area if it has gotten compacted. For your treat after these tasks, you can start to peruse garden seed catalogs and local garden centers for your fall plants.