Although summer's bounty of fresh corn, peppers and tomatoes may be dwindling, you shouldn't stop tending to your vegetable garden as the weather turns colder. You can have a fall harvest by ensuring that your garden is prepped for the new season. Get ready for hearty root vegetables and leafy greens.
Before you start reaping the rewards of your fall harvest, a few other tasks need to be completed. The entire garden, including your vegetables, will need a bit of attention as we get closer to fall. Some basic cleanup and maintenance now will promote a healthier garden come spring.
Cleanup: Go through your beds and do a quick cleanup of any dried or dead plants, weeds or other debris that has made its way into the garden. (Hold off on major pruning — fall is not the time to prune as new growth may not survive the winter.) For the vegetable garden, remove any plants that are no longer producing and turn the soil well so it is completely broken up and loose, making it ready for new plants.
Fertilize: Fall is the perfect time to add compost to or fertilize your garden and lawn, as it should help produce lush and healthy greenery in the spring. But be sure to check that the plants you have in your garden will benefit from fall fertilization. For instance, you shouldn't fertilize roses in the fall, as you will begin to get growth too early. However, perennials and bulbs greatly benefit from fall fertilizing. Additionally, this is the perfect time to treat your vegetable garden with compost or manure. Typically, the fertilizer you use for your grass will contain too much nitrogen for the vegetable garden, so check the labels on any store-bought fertilizer for recommended use before applying.
Once you've cleaned up your garden, you're ready to plant some cool weather vegetables. Although you might miss the gorgeous summer vegetables, you can get some great autumn produce while you wait for the sunny days to return. (Now is also the time to plant spring bulbs for a beautiful pop of color later.)
Greens: Lettuce, arugula, kale, mustard, spinach and Swiss chard are just a few of your options when it comes to greens, and they're easy to grow. These plants actually flourish in cold weather and can taste even sweeter than other times of the year.
Root vegetables: Carrots, beets and radishes are all good choices for easy-to-grow root vegetables during cool weather.
Onion family: Although fall is the time to plant garlic and shallots, you won't actually harvest them until summer. To get your fill of onion flavor sooner, try planting green onions or leeks.
More: The list doesn't end there for fall vegetables — also consider fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, to name a few.
In this episode, learn how to effectively start a thriving vegetable garden.
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