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Updated: Aug 25, 2022



Has planting a Fall Garden ever crossed your mind? Have you every wondered what is planted in a Fall Garden? Or Did you know that a Fall Garden could by your greatest tool when improving your garden's soil health? You and I are going to tackle all of these questions and more. Let's get growing!


Does Your Garden Plan Include a Fall Garden?


For years mine didn't. After a summer full of hard work, I always was too exhausted to even think I should continue my garden. To me, fall would always bring on a new season of preserving, school, and preparing the homestead for winter. It was a time to wrap up every project we hoped to get done before the first snowflakes fell. I have always heard that a fall garden was like a spring, come again. So, I finally told myself if my goal was to grow as much as I could I was just going to pull on my big-girl panties and learn more about growing in the fall.


I have learned that it is its own special beast and has its own difficulties. First, was learning what I could possibly even grow?


20 Plants To Grow In a Fall Garden:


Arugula

Arugula is an edible Mediterranean plant of the Cabbage family that is also known as solid rocket. This Brassica will bolt In the heat of the summer, most of the cool temps of fall are perfect. Arugula is used as a peppery salad green.


Beets

These beautiful red or golden veggies are dual purpose, as they can be grown for the root or leaves. Beets have a short growing season of 50 to 60 days. When young they don't mind the heat for germination but love cool temperatures to grow in so they are perfect for the fall.


Bok Choy

The dwarf or baby bok choy are perfect for the fall as they will mature in just 30 to 40 days!


Broccoli

Because broccoli is part of the Brassica family it is more than capable, especially when almost mature, of handling a light frost or two. Full grown broccoli are usually more tasty as they flower in cooler temps instead of the heat of summer.


Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts are a brassica just like the broccoli above but unlike the broccoli can even be grown into the winter and handle a few snow storms.


Carrots

They will love the cool temps as well. The only problem you may have is with germination. Carrot seeds need to stay moist but the heat of summer can make this difficult. I use a trenching method to get over this hurdle. I promise you that fall carrots are worth the struggle as a cooler soil temps will make them sweeter.


Collards

Another Brassica, who knew! Not many are a fan of collard greens but as I said before, the cooler and light frost will make everything sweeter, even these!


Cabbage

This is another Brassica that can be grown into the early winter



Endive

This plant is related to Chicory and definitely needs the cooler fall temperatures to succeed. I would suggest transplanting this for a better germination rate.


Green Beans

Green beans are usually seen as a summer crop because they will not handle a frost. But if planted so that they will bear fruit early and you plan for a little season extension. Green beans will grow great in the cooler fall temps. Mostly because the pests that bother them will be gone!


Green Onions

Onions are already a cool season crop. Green onions will grow more quickly so you can harvest before winter hits.


Kale

Kale is something I grow all season; from spring through to the fall. What is nice about kale is that it doesn't need to be replated. Here's how, I plant my kale every spring and then about midsummer when it begins to suffer, I don't pull it I just trim it back to just a few leaves per plant. The center will continue to grow but slowly and when the cool temps return it will explode with new growth. Kale can take a frost and even snow if it's protected slightly.


Kohlrabi

This is another Brassica, but unlike others this plant grows a large bulb at their center and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is mostly used in Asian cooking.


Lettuce

This plant is best grown in cool temps; as it is easy to bolt in the heat.


Peas and Snow Peas

Both of these love the cool temperatures. Maturing in the summer heat can make them more starchy and tasteless. You may need to germinate these in a cool place inside or under mulch to keep the soil cool.



Parsnips

This root vegetable is great for a fall garden. They taste like a spicy carrot and can be mulched to continue your harvest well into late winter.


Radishes

They love the cool temps and, of course, can be interplanted with both carrots and parsnips to help with germination.


Spinach

As you all know, spinach loves cool temperatures. Be sure to plant behind a nitrogen fixer like peas as spinach needs lots of nitrogen to grow.


Swiss Chard

This plant will bring lots of beautiful color to your fall garden! Swiss chard will not tolerate a hard frost but its leaves can be harvested early for what is called baby chard.



Now, what if you planted all of the above crops and you still have a few beds open or you choose not to grow a Fall Garden?



Many gardeners, including me in the beginning, think “the garden is done so I am done”. That is the farthest from the truth. The fastest way to ruin that soil structure you have worked all growing season to develop, is to leave it uncovered in the fall. Remember, God said that he would cover the Earth with vegetation and he meant it. When we leave our garden beds bare (or even with summer plants dying in them) we leave them to let God cover them, which will mean weeds, and lots of them! We can only win our battle with weeds with constant vigilance. Let's talk about how we should put our garden beds to sleep for the fall!


A Fall Garden Can Be For Building Your Soil Too


Fall Cover Crops


The best and easiest way to prevent weed growth in the fall is to plant something that will not only protect our soil, but will improve it also. That is where cover crops come in. There are two types: ones that winter kills and others that will not.


Winter kill cover crops are best for beds that you plan to plant first thing next year. Hmmm, does that mean you will need to have a garden plan done for your next year already? Not really, you only need to have a crop rotation schedule figured out. I will go into more depth about that in another post.


Non-winter killed cover crops will need to be planted in beds you plan to plant later crops in. These will cover the soil again next spring and protect your beds from weeds while you're busy planting and waking up your garden.


In the following list I will add the hardiness zone to establish if this is a winter kill cover crop or not in your area. What that means is that if you live in zone 4 like me and you plant a cover crop with a hardiness that is higher than that, it will winter kill.



Cover crops are going to have two benefits for your soil, green manure and winterkill. Green manure can be added to a compost pile or used as mulch through the winter. Winter kills are going to add organic matter directly to your soil as biomass.


You can plant more than one cover crop at a time.


Annual Ryegrass


Hardy to zone 6, best established in July, August, September


The green manure benefit of annual ryegrass is legume protector. This means it is going to grow quicker and will protect say field peas from the heat as they germinate. Annual rye grass will also suppress weeds and add lots of organic matter when mowed. As a winter kill the roots will also add lots of biomass and organic matter!


Oats


Hardy to Zone 8, best established in July and August


Oats can be used as a weed suppressant and to protect peas and clover as a legume protector. They will also winter kill and add both; biomass and organic matter.


Winter Rye


Hardy to Zone 4, best established in August, September and October


Winter Rye’s green manure benefits are organic matter when mowed, weed suppressing, and an early weed suppressant in the spring if it is not winter killed in your zone. Is very important that if any cover crop survives the winter it should be mowed or tilled in before it goes to seed! Seeds make it weeds! For the winter benefits it will create organic matter, and be a great cover crop ground cover to prevent winter erosion.


Field Peas


Hardy to Zone 8, best established August and September


Because they are peas they, of course, are a nitrogen fixer and will produce edible tendrils. They can be eaten by you or given to animals as fodder. They will also suppress weeds. The winter kill benefit will create biomass and organic matter.



White Clover

Hardiness Zone 4, best established August and September


White clover is a cover crop that is great for under sowing. For example, broccoli is planted one row per bed so this can be planted under it to fix nitrogen and suppress weeds. White clover can also be used as a fall forage for your animals, like chickens! Winterkill benefits are organic matter and biomass and spring ground cover.


Yellow Sweet Clover


Hardiness Zone 6, best established in July and August


This variety of clover is also a nitrogen fixer but is also a nutrient minor. Meaning that because its roots go deep into the soil it brings those nutrients to the surface for other plants to use. It also great for feeding pollinators


Crimson Clover


Hardiness Zone 8, best established in July, August and September


This is another variety of clover that will combine all the benefits of the other two varieties


Hairy Vetch


Hardiness Zone, 4 best established in August, September and October


Hairy vetch will give your garden much-needed organic matter as it grows very quickly. It also is a nitrogen fixer and a spring cover crop


Medium Red Clover


Hardiness Zone 4, best established in August, September and October


It is like the other white clover; just has a beautiful red flower.


Fall can be a great time to still get in a late-harvest and to prepare for next spring! God will cover the soil so you might as well cover it with plants that can feed you and your garden.

Till next time.


Pray, Just Plant




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