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Why Fall Is the Best Time to Grow a Vegetable Garden

Lucy Mercer
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Fall Vegetable Garden | The Home Depot's Garden Club

Been thinking about starting a vegetable garden, but you were too busy to get it in the ground in the spring? Even though we’re now in the dog days of summer, it’s not too late to have fresh vegetables this year.

The seasons are turning and you are just in time to put in a fall garden.

You may have missed out on growing your own red, ripe tomatoes and bumper crop of zucchini, but there’s still a season for root veggies like radishes, carrots and turnips, and glorious greens like spinach, lettuce, chard, kale and collards.

Radishes in the Fall Vegetable Garden |the Home Dep

Not only is fall a great season to grow a vegetable garden, it’s also the very best time for newbies to plant their first vegetable garden.

The No. 1 reason to plant a fall vegetable garden, at least in my book, is fewer bugs. If you need more reasons, here they are: cooler and (generally speaking) wetter weather, so fewer days dragging a garden hose around.

In most of the country, the fall growing season is shorter, but that just means you will harvest sooner.

And just like summer sunshine makes the tastiest tomatoes, cool temps and light frosts sweeten up collards, kale and other cole crops as starches are converted to sugars.

Kale in the Fall Vegetable Garden | The Home Depot's Garden Club

You can grow a fall garden from seed or seedlings, or a combination of both.

Tender greens like spinach and lettuce, and root veggies like radishes and carrots will do well from seed if started in time, usually in late July or early August.

Cole crops such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and kohlrabi can be grown from seedlings. Seedlings will be available in your Garden Center when they’re ready to plant in your garden.

Fall gardening success is built on fast-growing veggies. The Home Depot’s Living Salad Bowl infographic is chock-full of essential gardening tips, including a list of 12 fast-growing vegetables.

For your fall garden, choose radishes (25 days to maturity), green onions (28 days), lettuce (30 days), baby carrots (30 days), spinach (40 days), turnips (60 days), and kale (60 days).

Of course, beginning with starts will get you to harvest sooner.

Herbs like cool nights and warm days, too. Include parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, chives, lavender, cilantro and dill in your garden.

Lettuce | The Home Depot's Garden Club

tips for Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden

  • To begin, know your area’s average date of first frost. Count back 12 to 14 weeks to determine start dates for seeds.
  • Start seeds indoors. Get the step by step info on starting vegetables from seeds
  • Prepare your garden bed. Remove debris and put it in a compost pile. If this is a new garden bed, choose a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Amend soil with organic compost.
  • Mulch seedlings to retain moisture and protect them.
  • Feed with an organic fertilizer.
  • Plants may be heat-stressed early in the growing season, just be sure to keep them watered, about an inch a week.

Got questions about this article or any other garden topic? Go here now to post your gardening ideas, questions, kudos or complaints. We have gardening experts standing by to help you!