Planting edibles for fall is probably the last thing on your mind when your summer garden is in full swing, but now is the time to think about next season. You’ll want to plant cool-weather crops just as the first warm-weather crops start to fade so you can continue harvesting.
These five tricks will help you have success when sowing late-season crops.
5 Hints from the Pros for Late-Season Planting:
1. Don’t skip the prep
Before planting, cool down soil by covering with a shade cloth for a few days. Fork the soil lightly to loosen the top couple inches of soil, which may have become compacted over the course of the growing season. Mix in compost and amendments. Water well to ensure seedlings get enough moisture and nutrients at planting time.
2. Pick the right plants
There is a long list of delicious cool weather vegetables to choose from. Whether you’re planting leafy greens, root vegetables or herbs, select a variety that matures in the shortest number of days, or is rated for late-season growing.
3. Add extra time
Check the seed packet for “days to maturity” and subtract that number from the average date of last frost in your region to find the best time to plant. Then, add a few extra days because growth will slow as the days get shorter. Vegetables need time to mature while the weather is still warm, but if planted too early, they may be stunted by the heat. Plus, you never know if cold weather will come earlier than usual.
4. Have plant covers ready
Most vegetables will eventually succumb to cold in most regions. As the cold weather arrives, be ready with row covers or cold frames to keep vegetables alive and available for harvest well into early winter.
5. Outsmart pests
Planting in the fall may make gardening a little slower, but there is a big benefit: pests and disease are usually less of a problem in cool weather. Keep an eye on plants and treat only if necessary.