Planting vegetables for fall: Some varieties of fall vegetables require longer in your garden to mature than others
Vegetable gardening is one of the most satisfying types. Not only do you get to watch your seedlings grow up to be strong and healthy plants but you get to harvest the fruits of your labor and enjoy them at the dinner table. If you are planning on a fall harvest you need to start thinking about planting your vegetables in the beginning of the summer. Some vegetables will require longer growing times than others and you don’t want to miss your opportunity to plant them on time.
Fall vegetables pose unique growing difficulties. When you plant your seeds the days will be long and dry. Towards the end of their growth the days will be shorter and the weather cool and wet. In order to pull in a successful harvest of fall vegetables you need to choose varieties that can withstand frost and cooler weather. Some vegetables will actually gain improved flavor from a light frost or two.
Cabbage is one of the hardiest fall vegetables. Cabbage plants enjoy full sun and should be planted at least two feet from each other to give them ample space to grow. Your cabbage will need plenty of water to develop lush heads. Cabbage plants need anywhere from sixty to ninety days to mature depending on the variety you choose. Ideally you should plant your cabbage some time in July depending on the region you live in. You want your cabbage plants to be nearly mature by the time your first frost comes.
Another hardy fall vegetable is the carrot. Carrots do well in shady areas and are particularly sweet when harvested in the fall. You will need anywhere from sixty to ninety days for your carrot plants to mature to harvest. Carrots need to be planted in loose soil that is free of rocks or any obstructions that will cause your carrot roots to branch off and produce unattractive vegetables. It can take quite a while for your carrot seeds to sprout so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any signs of your plants for several weeks. Your carrots are ready for harvesting when the top of the root is between one and two inches.
One of the most popular fall vegetables is the pumpkin. Although pumpkins are harvested in the fall they need at least three months to mature and they do not tolerate frost well. If you want to have pumpkins ready to harvest in the fall you will need to plant them as soon as the soil is between 70 and 90 degrees and all danger of frost has passed. If you live in an area that will not give your pumpkins a sufficient length of time to grow in warm weather you will need to start your seedlings indoors. Pumpkins are a versatile vegetable and can be used in pies, breads, and muffins. The pumpkin is also a great vegetable for the grill. If you can’t eat all of your pumpkins you can use them for jack-o-lanterns at Halloween.
Spinach is a vegetable that does well in the spring and the fall. You can get at least two crops of spinach out of your garden each year or more if you live in a temperate climate. Spinach plants do not like hot weather so wait until the beginning of August to start your seeds. Spinach plants need to be at least one foot apart for optimum growth. Spinach is great for salads and cooking and is high in vitamin A.
Don’t forget to eat your broccoli! Broccoli tastes better when harvested in the fall especially when it is freshly picked from your garden. Broccoli plants need between fifty and a hundred days to mature to harvest so plant them at least six weeks before the first frost of the fall season. Give your broccoli plants at least two feet apart from each other. Broccoli requires frequent fertilization and it is important to water the base of the plant only or you will cause the plant to flower ahead of schedule. Broccoli does not last for long once it is picked so it is important to blanch and freeze it as soon as possible after it is harvested.
Several varieties of vegetables that grow underground such as radishes, turnips, and rutabagas are also very hardy fall vegetables. If you plant these types of vegetables you will need to be on the lookout for wildlife such as rabbits and deer who are trying to build up stores of fat for the winter ahead.
There may be many more varieties of fall vegetables that will do well in your area and your local nursery will be able to point you in the right direction. A harvest of fresh vegetables makes a wonderful end to the growing season. If you freeze or can your homegrown vegetables you can enjoy them all winter long.