Planting Cool Weather Crops For Your Fall Garden

It’s the perfect time to start thinking about fall gardening as the dog days of summer have come to an end. While the sand and sun is sure to be missed, there’s plenty of festive fun that comes when the leaves change. In fact, cooler weather produces peak flavors in root crops and leafy greens, which most often become sweeter as the days get shorter (that’s a fair trade-off to us!). Learn how to get started on your fall garden and share with us your favorite fall recipe below!

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Cool weather crops grow best when daytime temperatures are in the 70’s and low 80’s, with nights dropping into the 40’s and 50’s. Once evening temperatures reach freezing, most growth will stop, however you can still harvest as long as overnight temperatures don’t reach the teens. The trick is to start now while we’re still experiencing hot weather on the East coast to allow enough time for the crops to be harvestable – if you wait until the weather cools off to begin planting, it will most likely be too late.

Frost Date
Every region has a preferred planting window for fall vegetables. The seeds will need enough time to mature while the weather is still making us sweat, but not too early (think July) where growth may be stunted by extreme temperatures, or prone to sprouting prematurely, causing edible portions to be bitter and tough.

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To find your ideal time frame for planting fall crops, you should research the average date of first frost in your area. Local nurseries and garden supply retailers should be able to provide you with an estimate, or you can simply look it up in an online almanac. When you have an idea of the crops you would like to plant, locate the average days to maturity on the back of the seed packet. Subtract that number from your frost date and you’ve found the perfect time to plant!

What to Plant
Get inspired with this list of cool weather crops, and the number of day they take to mature.

Lettuce – 50
Arugula – 40
Chard – 55
Spinach – 45
Kale – 60
Mustard – 40
Broccoli – 80
Cauliflower – 75
Brussels sprouts – 90
Cabbage – 95
Beets – 60
Radishes – 30
Kohlrabi – 60
Turnips – 50
Rutabagas – 75
Carrots – 80

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Sowing Your Seeds
It’s easiest to start fall crops off in flats, rather than placing them directly in the ground. This way, you can control the amount of shade and light by appropriately setting them outdoors or inside your home. The seedbed must remain evenly moist for germination to occur, which may require watering several times depending on the temperature.

Plant the Seedlings
Once your plants have two true leaves (also known as cotyledons), which look more like the leaves on a mature plant, they’re ready to be planted.  tx-wd-sdlng-4-26-10-1-crpd

Most cool weather crops are pint-sized, which makes them easy to squeeze in to available open space in a late summer garden. If any of your summer crops have succumbed to disease and are declining, pull them out and pop the fall crops in their place. You can even plug in fall seedlings around the base of taller summer crops that are still producing—they will benefit from the shade while the weather is still hot. Once the weather cools to the 70’s or 80’s during the day, however, cut the summer crops to the ground so the fall crops will flourish in full sun.

You will want to lightly till vegetable beds that have had summer crops growing in them before planting fall crops to loosen soil, which may have become compacted over the course of the growing season. We recommend checking out any of our dirt-loving tillers and cultivators, which effortlessly slice through the soil, ensuring maximum aeration and perfectly preparing the seedbed for planting.

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Fortunately, pests and disease are usually less of a problem once the weather cools, however if you typically experience predators year round, our all-natural line of organic repellents will repel most threats.

Share with us with your favorite fall recipe and what you plan to plant this Autumn.