Planning a Fall Vegetable Garden

broccoliThere comes a short pause in a veggie gardener’s time just after all the plants are in and before the battle with weeds or pests begins. This is the perfect time to plan for the fall.
I know it seems early, but really it isn’t. Suppose for example, that your cole crops will be harvested by the end of June. Many of the leafy greens are beginning to bolt about the same time. Your onions and garlic will be ready about the end of July or early August. That’s what happens here in Zone 5/6. Are you ready to replenish and replant?

At that time of the season it can be difficult to find seeds and other garden related items. Do you have what you need? Say you want to grow a late-season variety of broccoli where the onions and garlic were. Do you have the seeds? Out of seed-starting mix? Yes, that can be hard to find as the season progresses as well.

Planning is easy. First make a list of what fall crops you intend to plant, and when they should go into the garden. Look at how well they handle a frost, or if in fact they prefer at least one or two cold snaps. Mark the planting date on a calendar. If you will direct seed them, that part is done. If you are starting them indoors, make a note as to when to do this. Remember, soon you will be into the throes of weeds, peas, and wet knees, and far too busy to be planning.

Next, note on your calendar when you expect any given crop to be done for the season. If this is your first garden or you are trying a new crop, ask around. Gardeners are a friendly lot. Now, do you see some dates coming together? You’ve got the planning part covered, all you need then is a list of any items you will want to purchase.

Where we are located, most of the planting gets done by the end of May. The local farm and garden stores do have seeds, but not plants, for about a month after that. Around the Fourth of July they return or place on sale whatever is left. By taking a few minutes now, you can make a list of what you will need and go get it before it is gone.  Be sure you have sufficient compost to replenish the soil, as well as seeds and seed-starting items. By planning ahead, you can get it while it is still available. Even better, keep your eye out and get it on sale!

Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at gardeningjones.com/blog.
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Keep on top of your vegetable-garden tasks with the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook.

Learn how to grow vegetables in every season, any climate, with The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener.

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