How to Plant an Autumn Garden (and the Best Time to Do It)

As summer draws to a close, new gardeners may expect their garden to wither, but a change of season doesn’t necessarily mean your garden is coming to a close this year. There are seasonal vegetables and plants that can be grown throughout the fall. Here’s how to plant an fall garden and when is the best time to start.

When to start planting an autumn garden

The advantages of cold weather gardening outweigh the disadvantages; the lower the temperature, the less pests, weeds and diseases will disturb your plants. The start time depends on the hardiness zone in which you live, the first frost in your area, and “the days before the particular seed variety you grow” according to Grow Journey .

To determine exactly when to start planting, you can count the date of the first frost and the rate at which the seeds ripen. Take the days of ripening and count down from the frost date to find a suitable sowing date.

Grow Journey gives this example:

Let’s say you have a broccoli variety that takes 100 days to ripen and your first frost date is November 15th. This means you will need to plant broccoli seeds around mid-July.

If it’s too late for you, don’t worry – planting times vary from plant to plant. Good Housekeeping explains how fast-growing fall vegetables such as lettuce and kale can be planted in late September, but recommends planting most fall gardens in the heat of August when growing conditions are still optimal.

How to choose the right plants for the fall

The success of the autumn garden depends on the correct choice of plants. For shrubs and flowers, consider perennials that last long and come back year after year. In the spring, the heuchera-like bush blooms with beautiful flowers, and the leaves last through the fall, creating beautiful fall foliage for your garden.

Flowers such as the fall crocus (unlike their spring cousin) are planted in late summer and bloom with beautiful purple petals in the fall. Another hardy flower is marigolds. These golden flowers will bloom in spring, summer and until the first frost. In addition, vegetables such as kale, kale, spinach, radishes and beets are “ cool season crops ” that persist throughout the fall.

How to start planting an autumn garden

First, you’ll want to harvest and remove all spring plants from your garden to set the stage for new fall plants. As Seed Savers explains, “Rotating crops will help avoid diseases common to one type of plant and balance the nutrients in the soil.” As soon as your plants start to collect, pluck them to transplant for the next season.

Next, you need to prepare the soil so that the fall plants survive the end of summer. Mix and sprinkle the soil with compost and organic fertilizer to nourish the soil between plantings and strengthen the soil for new shoots.

Once you have planted your new seeds, you need to provide them with enough shade to fight off the lingering summer heat. Seed Savers recommends shade from trellises or other tall plants. At the same time, mulching and maintaining soil moisture will maintain a cool temperature for the germination of autumn seeds.

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