When we think of gardening, most of the time we associate it as a spring and summer activity. We start our seeds and/or plant our seedlings in the spring, cultivate the garden in the summer, and harvest the fruits and vegetables of our labor in the fall. However, fall is also an excellent time to start a garden. But why? We’ve already put in enough grunt work for the garden we have now, and we’re getting a fine harvest from it. Why should we go through all that again twice in the same year?
Well, I’ll tell you why. There are many reasons for, and advantages to planting a fall garden.
- Fall vegetable gardens require no special care, because autumn conditions can be more favorable than summer conditions to certain vegetable crops.
- Fall-grown vegetable crops are usually more productive and of higher canning and freezing quality than those which mature in midsummer’s hot dry period.
- There are fewer destructive insect pests to infest your garden and destroy your plants.
- In the fall, there are fewer weeds infesting the garden and competing with your garden plants for water, nutrients, and light. This makes weeding less time-consuming and less laborious.
- There is usually more rainfall in autumn then there is in summer, so the time and effort spent watering your garden is reduced.
- If a light frost should occur, it probably will not harm your crops. In fact, frost actually improves the flavor of certain vegetables – kale, turnips, parsnips, collards, salsify, and Chinese cabbage.
- Fall-grown vegetables such as leeks, salsify, and parsnips can be mulched, left in the ground, and harvested during winter and early spring, ensuring a steady supply of fresh vegetables when nothing else is growing.
- Onion top sets from winter onions can be planted for fall use. If you choose not to use them, you can leave them in the garden over the winder. In the spring, they will sprout and they can then be used as green onions. Be warned, however that these overwintered onions can sometimes be quite pungent.
So as you can see, active gardening does not have to end in the fall. In fact, if you plan your plantings correctly, you can have garden vegetables of one kind or another available to you all year long. That’s certainly one way to take the edge off of winter.