Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preparing for Our Fall Garden

And just like that it's August 31st and the end of summer. How did that happen so quickly? Halloween will be here before we know it, followed by Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Whew!

The State of our Garden & Plans for the Fall

Our summer garden is pretty much over, save for a few lone jalapeno plants, a tomatillo bush, a slew of basil, and a lot of really pretty zinnias. {Note to self: Plant zinnias again next year; we had flowers all summer long, and they're still blooming!} This week we have been pulling up old plants, removing stakes, mowing down extensive weeds, and cleaning out the garden. I hope my dear sweet husband will get out the tiller this weekend to get the garden ready for planting next week. :)

For the past two or three years, we have planted kale, spinach, and buttercrunch lettuce in our garden. Last year we attempted sugar snap peas but never got around to putting up a trellis for them to climb. Let's just say, no trellis = no peas. There were plants galore but no peas to speak of! I have decided to be low-maintenance this year and forgo the peas although they would be super delicious. Instead, we'll stick with the tried and true greens that even I can't kill and some broccoli.

Fall Veggies & Their Health Benefits
Broccoli is my new favorite vegetable: Not only is it high in fiber and vitamins A, C, D & K but broccoli is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well as a cholesterol reducer and has been known to suppress tumors and detoxify the body. Wow! All that in a crown of broccoli! So I thought I'd try my hand at growing some broccoli this fall.

Kale, leaf lettuce, and spinach are rich in Vitamins A and C, high in potassium, calcium, and iron and are also a good source of fiber. These dark leafy greens contain cancer-inhibiting carotenoids--think carrots--that act like antioxidants and remove free radicals from the body before they can wreak any havoc.

Tips for Your Fall Garden


Source: USA Gardener
  • Frost-tolerant
  • Each plant will continue producing over time so you don't need many plants. Consider staggering your planting every 3-4 weeks so all your broccoli doesn't mature at once.
  • Requires full sun but cool and moist soil (add a layer of mulch, straw, or grass clippings to keep soil cool)
  • Seeds will germinate at ground temperatures as low as 40°F
  • Does best with organic compost added to the soil
  • Matures in 65-70 days

Source: USA Gardener

  • Hardy & frost-tolerant: Frost actually sweetens the taste of kale
  • Plant in late summer for a harvest from fall until springtime. {Honestly, you can't kill it unless you dig it up!}
  • Germinates easily in cool or warm soil with even moisture
  • Benefits from compost or manure
  • Matures in 55-60 days
Leaf Lettuce

Source: USA Gardener
  • Needs humus-rich, well-drained soil with plenty of nitrogen
  • Can be planted in late summer by first moistening the ground and covering it with straw
  • Requires plenty of moisture and may need to be watered frequently during dry bouts
  • Successive plantings ensure lettuce throughout the season.
  • Be sure to harvest lettuce regularly to prevent bitterness.
  • Will continue to grow until the first hard frost
  • Matures in 45-55 days
  • Requires six weeks of cool weather from planting to harvest
  • Needs well-drained, nitrogen-rich soil. Spinach is very sensitive to acidic soil, so apply lime to the area growing spinach.
  • Soil temperature should be no warmer than 70°F for germination to occur.
  • Drought and warm temperatures will cause premature bolting.
  • Cut spinach as soon as leaves are big enough to eat. If spinach is looking old and tired, cut the entire plant back to 1” tall to stimulate young, tasty growth.
  • Matures in 40-50 days
My plan for the coming weeks is to finish preparing the garden for planting: tilling up the hardened ground; adding compost or humus to the soil; and planting kale, lettuce, and spinach seeds and broccoli transplants. I will keep you posted each week to our progress.

Are you planning a fall garden? What do you intend to grow?

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  1. We've never planted a fall garden, but as our garden has been thriving this year, I think a fall garden sounds lovely! I'm sharing this on my blog FB page.

  2. Great, Cheryl! I'll have to check it out! Thanks!