I know its August and we are still feeling the heat of summer but right now is the ideal time to start thinking about and planting your fall garden. Fall gardens are a great way to keep fresh veggies on the table as we move into our colder months. In fact, many of our cool season crops develop their best flavor and quality when they mature during cool weather.
When planning your fall garden consider the cold hardiness of your vegetables. If your growing something that is sensitive to frost makes sure you leave enough time for the crop to reach maturity. Our average first frost in Union County is October 25, so take the days to maturity of your crop and count backward. That will give you the minimum growing days you need to grow that crop. Vegetables that are cold hardy can often be overwintered, carrots are one of my favorite vegetables to overwinter. We seed our carrots in late summer, mulch in the fall and harvest all winter. My kids love going out to the garden and pulling fresh carrots for salads in December.
Frost protection is another option for the fall garden. Tender or half-hardy vegetables can often be grown further into fall or winter if you cover them when frost or low temperatures are expected. Burlap or row-cover can be placed over wire hoops to protect the plants, just make sure the fabric doesn’t lay on the plants.
Also, keep a close eye on your plants in the Fall. Pest and disease pressure tends to be higher because populations have had time to grow through the spring and summer. Make sure your plants get adequate water and nutrients, Healthy plants are less susceptible to pests. Pesticides may need to be used if the damage becomes too severe. If you apply a pesticide follow the labeled directions and make sure the product is approved for both the crop and the pest you are targeting.