It is said that when it is hot outside you should imagine something cold to help you deal with the heat.
Taking that line of thinking in to the garden is the first key step in planning your fall garden.
That is because if you do not know when your first freeze date is, you cannot know how late in the year you can safely plant specific varieties of fruits and vegetables.
If you do not know when first freeze date is, visit our frost and freeze article. The average first freeze date in our area is November 7th. Call that one benefit of living in the Deep South.
Now that we know that, we can count backwards on the calendar to find out when we should plant our fruits and veggies.
The time you have left before your first freeze will ultimately determine what you are able to plant. Some plants simply take less time to grow than others and some do better in the cool than in the heat.
With 82 days left until our freeze date, and with the amount of space we have available, we have chosen to plant these varieties:
- Little Fingers Carrot (60 Days)
- Outredgeous Lettuce (52 Days)
- Red Romaine Lettuce (70 Days)
- Simpson Black Seeded Lettuce (From our own seed! – 45 Days)
- Sugar Snap Peas (65 Days)
- Rainbow Swiss Chard (60 Days)
- Kohl Rabi (55 Days)
- Moneymaker Tomato (we’ll be pushing this one on time – 80 Days)
So you might ask yourself why did we plant some of these, like the Black Seeded lettuce so early, since there is more time left than what we need to actually grow them.
For one, we want to try to avoid an early freeze. By having this little buffer we can have a larger harvest than if we tried to push every single day out of it.
Further, some varieties, like the lettuces, can stand a little cold. Since we will harvest them while they continue to grow, we can make use of this extra time as well.
Your fall garden might also include items like these but about 3 weeks ago, when we had just over 100 days left, we planted other varieties as well, including Crowder Peas, Okra, Pumpkins and Squash that needed the longer growing time.
What you plant will depend wholly on your taste and the time you have left to plant!
You can also help your veggies cheat an early death and extend their season by protecting them from an early freeze. You can cover them with row sized hoop houses to protect your plants.
Around here it is also common to simply toss an old bed sheet over your plants if a frost is expected. You simply toss the sheet over the plants just before sunset and take it back off as soon as the sun is shining on them again.
Both of these methods work because they trap heat between the ground and the covering – just enough heat to stop the plants from frosting over.
It is easy to picture a cornucopia full different squashes, corn and apples. While those are all delicious, they do not have to be your only fall crop.
Just as you would make use of the first usable planting days in spring for lettuces and the like, make use of the final days of summer as well.
Doing so will not just diversity your dinner table at this time of year, but also provide you with more items you that you can preserve and store over the winter as well!
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You can watch our Fall Garden Video by clicking the link, or by watching below: