Planting a Fall Garden: Tips & Tricks

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No matter where you live, there are lots of plants that love to root themselves into the earth in the last days of summer. (iStock)

Anyone who gardens knows that there is a wonderful hopefulness in the smooth, black earth of a freshly planted plot, great joy in those first shoots that appear in spring, and an immense satisfaction that comes from seeing your garden overflowing with lush green life.

After all of that it’s a little sad when the vines start to wither and fade away with those first breaths of cool weather that mean autumn is on the way. But fall doesn’t have to mean the end of the gardening season!

No matter where you live, there are lots of plants that love to root themselves into the earth in the last days of summer. Some of them will remain beneath the soil until next year but a few will give you a whole second (or maybe even third, depending where you live) round of fresh veggies!

If you are interested in planting a fall garden the first thing you need to determine is which zone you are in. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a great map that divides our country into ten zones. There may be some local variation if you are on a river bank, in a high elevation or have other special circumstances but, generally speaking, this map is a very useful guideline for know what to plant & when.

For most parts of the country, if you act now, you’ll still have time to sow and reap another crop of many of the leafy greens: lettuce, kale, spinach, mustard and cabbage all do OK in the cooler temps, some of them even prefer them!

Elizabeth Comiskey

(Elizabeth Comiskey)

Fast growing root veggies like beets, scallions and carrots will do well this time of year as well. If you live in a warmer part of the country you can still sneak in some summer squash, peas and maybe even tomatoes.

freedigitalphotos.net

(freedigitalphotos.net)

A tip for success: Keep those fall planted veggies nice and moist! You don’t want to drown them in mud, but you need to create ideal growing conditions to keep things moving along as fast as possible and that means no hard, dry, dusty earth packed around your little baby sprouts!

September is the perfect time to plant garlic. It will sprout a little bit above the soil before killing frost arrives and be ready to harvest in early/mid summer. Garlic likes lots of mulch. Don’t be afraid to cover your bed with a nice thick layer of straw or dry grass clippings.

Whichever veggies you decide to try, don’t plant a 2nd crop in the same spot you grew the first round or you’ll end up stripping your soil of key nutrients. Rotating your crops with every planting keeps your garden healthy, and reduces the number of pests that will be attracted to your plants.

If it’s flowers you’re after, the most beautiful spring flowers get their start this time of year! Flower bulbs are easy to find in autumn.

freedigitalphotos.net

(freedigitalphotos.net)

Buy from a reputable dealer and be certain that you aren’t using flowers, seeds or bulbs, compost or potting soil that have been treated with neonicotinoids – a pesticide that is lethal to helpful pollinators.

Elizabeth Comiskey

(Elizabeth Comiskey)

You can plant bulbs any time before the ground freezes or, if it doesn’t freeze where you are, late fall is usually best.

By planting in fall you’ll get a lovely bloom as soon as the weather turns warm in the spring. Crocuses, tulips, hyacinths, lilies and more all come from fall-planted bulbs. Few things are more wonderful at the end of a long winter than seeing those first colorful blooms pushing up from the half-frozen earth!

freedigitalphotos.net

 

Most of all, have fun and enjoy your garden! What can be better than being outdoors with the warm sun, cool breezes and wonderful smells of autumn in the air? Soak up every moment of it and savor the fruits of your labor!

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Elizabeth Comiskey has a true passion to care for the planet, promote world peace and raise her children to be productive citizens. She’s also a normal working mom – exhausted and constantly pressed for time – so she seeks out the most efficient possible ways to do these things.  Her blog, Lazy Hippie Mama, was born of her certainty that she couldn’t possibly be the only one who cares a great deal about improving the world around her and connecting with others in meaningful, inspiring ways but lacking in time and energy. Visit her blog, Lazy Hippie Mama or join her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Elizabeth is also a Sverve Influencer – connect with her here.

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