You may think it’s too hot to start planning your fall veggie gardens, but over the next few weeks, it’s a good idea to go ahead and start planning what what you want now, especially before the hustle-and-bustle of the school year starts. As long as your seeds germinate in late July or early August, your fall vegetable garden can produce delicious veggies like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach.
When to Plant?
The best way to determine when to start fall seeds is to count back 12 to 14 weeks from the first average fall frost date. This first step is ideal for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, and should be started indoors, where germination conditions are better than they are in the garden. Once the seedlings are three weeks old, plan to set them out during a period of cloudy or milder weather. Be warned: August marks the close of planting season for cabbage-family crops in the lower USDA planting zones. If cabbage family crops are set out after temperatures have cooled, they grow too slowly and may not make a crop. Here are a couple additional suggestions on planting fall vegetables:
Before planting new fall crops, remove any varieties that aren’t performing well or any that you’ve already harvested. Pull out any weeds as well so they don’t pull moisture away from your new plants.
If your garden has a lot of clay in the soil (and here in Maryland, that’s a pretty fair assumption), you’ll want to work organic matter such as compost or another material to help boost your plants’ start.
It’s especially important that you keep your garden well-watered during July and August, and even into September. A general rule is that most vegetables do best with about an inch of water a week in spring, summer and fall.
Best Crops for Fall Gardens
If you’re looking for some of the best crops for a fall garden, here are a few of the quickest and hardiest varieties:
Arugula, mustards, spinach, turnips and radishes are all ready to pick in a little over a month when sown in September.
Beets, carrots, green onions, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi can be plant in late summer for fall harvest.
Spinach and kale often grow well into early winter, and will survive a frost when given some protection such as a blanket, cardboard box, or plastic tunnel.
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