Planting a Fall Garden

When the temperatures are in the high 80’s, it’s hard to think about a fall garden.  After all the work that goes into planting, tending, harvesting, and preserving the summer garden, do I really want to do it all over again?

For me, the answer is always yes.  Living in Zone 5b, I am really able to get three plantings in per year: in early spring, summer, and fall.  Fall crops tend to be of the green variety – lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, broccoli, cabbage – and the root variety – beets, carrots, radish, parsnips.  But in truth, I just re-sowed zucchini to see what would happen!  After all, the average first frost date is not until October 10th.

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A new zucchini planting, with dill, chard, and cilantro behind.

When we arrived in Missouri in late October last year, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to get the fresh, local, organic, and year-round produce that I had grown accustomed to the in Willamette Valley of Oregon.  I hastily made a round of phone calls to local farmers, but was told that their season was pretty much over, and if I wanted to come buy some turnips, I was welcome (in retrospect, I should have bought up those turnips!)

This year, I know my garden will not feed us all winter long – it is too small, and the sheet mulched beds are not the best for root crops. Still, I have been busily and carefully sowing, tending, and planting in every little open spot that I have available.

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Tucking kale into beds.  I planted Siberian and Red Russian, mainly.

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Just for fun, a few rows of beets and carrots in a particularly well composted raised bed.  Our family, particularly the two little ones, LOVES beets, so I hope they do well!

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A bed of brassicas and chard, with lettuce and mesclun mix sown in between.  I have been challenged by cabbage moths, so I’m trying various deterrents, including these crushed up eggshells.

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Prepping new bed space.  We are fortunate to have an unlimited supply of composted horse manure, so I’ve been adding heaping piles, then topping it with a chicken manure fertilizer, and mulching with straw.  I’m going to try to fit a few cabbages into these spots, in hopes that they will be able to inhabit space as the tomatoes and peppers die back.

It truly is a joy for me to spend these hours in the garden, preparing the beds for the coming cool weather.  And it’s also a joy to support the local farmers in my area, from whom I will probably buy a stock of beets, winter squash, carrots, and yes, turnips.

Are you planting a fall garden?  What do you have growing?

4 thoughts on “Planting a Fall Garden

  1. This is my first year trying a fall planting. We are in zone 6, with a similar frost date as you. I’ve started carrots, beets, peas and turnips. I hope to get some lettuce and spinach going as well.

  2. I have planted a fall garden also. We have been having very cool temps and it’s causing my tomatoes to come very slowly. My lima beans are beautiful and full of pods but the pods are not filling up yet. I was fortunate to have a feed mill that gave me a whole bag of stringbeans. I planted then August 1 and they are up and beautiful. My red beets are lagging but they are up. The broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are in. I tried broccoli and cauliflower earlier in the summer and it was awful and ended up with the chickens. Your garden looks beautiful. I hope it produces well for you. I still find it amazing that we can plant seeds in dirt and get food.

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