Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

September 4, 2008

Start your Fall Garden NOW

Today I’d like to paraphrase Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening September Newsletter. I am not a SFG evangelist by any means, although that is how I began when I started my garden and I do still use some of its principles but I do tend to be a bit Fast and Loose with it. In this case however, Mel says it best, “Start your fall garden NOW!”


When is the best time to plant a garden?  Answer:  The fall. When do most gardeners plant their garden?  Answer:  Springtime.  Why?  Because that's the way we have always done it.

In the springtime, the farmer plows up his land as soon as he can determine it is not too wet and frozen and the old-fashioned single-row gardeners get out their rototillers and do the exact same thing in their yard.  But from a plant's standpoint, spring is the worst time and fall is the best time. Here is why.  A cool weather crop (mostly the salad greens and the root vegetables} can be planted in both the spring and fall.  The trouble in the spring is any crop has a slow start because of the cold weather, but once they get going and the weather warms up, they quickly go to seed and there is little time to harvest.

Just think, in the springtime, the soil is cold and wet, even mucky. The seeds take a long time to sprout.  Once they get going the weather gets warmer quickly, the plants grow rapidly and suddenly it is almost summer when it gets hot.  Those same plants then go right to seed and there is little time to harvest anything.  Yet everyone keeps planting in the spring because the winter has been so long and they are anxious to get outside and plant something. It's traditional.

The fall crop has exactly the opposite conditions.  You can plant  all the same vegetables, flowers and herbs but they are planted and grow  exactly the opposite of the springtime crops. You plant the seeds in the summer when it is warm. The seeds sprout quickly, grow healthy and become strong plants. Then the weather cools down and the plants slow down as they come into harvest as the cool fall time arrives.  The plants just kind of sit there waiting to be harvested.  They don't go to seed and there is no urgency to finish their period of growth as long you protect that harvest from the fall frost or freezes.  Now with a Square Foot Garden, that is much easier to do than with a single-row garden because a SFG is so much smaller in space and easier to protect. So when is the time to start a fall garden?  Right now, late summer or early fall in all parts of the country.


It’s the truth, I planted by fall garden this last weekend and I already have sprouts of kohlrabi, spinach, broccoli and other cool weather loving plants popping up. The cooler nights and warm days make the perfect mix to germinate seeds and grown healthy plants. Not ready to plant a garden yet? Planning on starting one next spring? Don’t put it off. I’ve done it, and it never works out the way you want it to. When spring arrives the ground is wet and the days cool, not to mention the number of spring cleaning projects that always pop up. Get that garden dug, or garden boxes built and you’ll be thankful that you did. Many people’s favorite plants grow best early and late in the year and if the garden’s not ready for you to plant them, you’ll miss the season all together. This is, in fact, the first year that I have ever been able to truly take advantage of the spring harvest because I took the time last fall to prep my garden for it before winter.  Now, do you think we can get the weather to cooperate?

Good luck and Grow on!





MeadowLark said...

Does that work for zone 4 too?

Sandy said...

Great post! I'm in the middle of planting my first fall garden ever and am very excited to see how it goes.

P~ said...

Where you're at, with the very short growing season, I would say that the greens like Spinach, cabbage and particularly Kale would be alright to sprout although you may probably want to use row covers, in the evenings particularly, if you wanted to be safe. Try useing some old milk jugs spray painted black set in between rows to work as heak sinks during the day and to release heat at night.
You never know until you try? Just try small scale so you will know next year.