Benefits of a Fall Garden
NOTE: All the pictures were taken in my garden this week. 🙂
Most gardeners are all in for summer. They grow the usual summer favorites: tomatoes, peppers, squash, and maybe a basil plant. The entrance to local churches and even our library are lined with boxes of fresh squash and excess cucumbers – free for the taking.
When August arrives most gardeners have been beaten by the bugs, blight, and heat. They are ready to put up their crocs, clean their spades and call it a year. I must admit, it’s tempting to rip out the plants and start planning a hayride.
There a few of us who don’t let the heat and humidity stop us. We weed, we dig, we sow, and we start over… in August.
Start all over.
It can be hard to drag yourself out of the air conditioning on a hot August afternoon to work (and I do mean work) in the
jungle garden. I am here to tell you, everything in your body is going to scream that you are crazy and tell you to go back indoors and drink water.
Drink the water, but don’t give up. There is nothing like a fall garden.
BENEFIT #1: A NEW BEGINNING
A fall garden can be a refreshing new beginning. Especially if it’s been a hard year for summer crops. Cool season crops are easy to get along with.
Warm season plants are notoriously difficult. In the middle of summer, everything is thriving. This means the plants typically soar – but it also means the bugs, diseases, mold, blight and fungus’ are prospering. Summer is the hardest time of year to raise an organic garden.
BENEFIT #2: EASY TO GROW
On the other hand, fall (and spring) gardens are significantly easier to grow.
In fact, if you have struggled with gardening in the past, I would encourage you to plant a cool season garden. Growing fall crops is not nearly as challenging as summer varieties.
BENEFIT #3: FARM FRESH FOOD THROUGHOUT FALL AND INTO WINTER
The garden doesn’t need to end in August or September.
If you live in a temperate area, you probably don’t need a greenhouse to grow food in cooler weather. You just need to grow the right plants.
Great varieties to consider for cold temperatures: lettuces, greens, turnips, radishes, peas, beets, herbs and vegetables in the mustard family, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi.
Sowing seeds or planting some seedlings in August is a small investment that can be enjoyed well into December in moderate climates (of if your area is experiencing a mild fall and winter).
Cole crops actually thrive when the days are warm and nights are frosty.
As long as there is not a “hard freeze” most cool-season crops will be happy. A hard freeze is when temperatures drop below freezing for several hours. If the temperature just dips below freezing and goes back up – most plants will be fine.
This year, I planted my entire fall garden from seed… twice.
I planted the entire thing in August. It rained for a week. All the seeds germinated and were so happy. Then we had a couple of weeks without any rain. I hate watering, so I didn’t. Consequently, all my baby plants died.
I did what any determined gal would do. I replanted the entire dang thing.
You better believe that I watered it the second time.
Probably too much.
I am really good at forgetting that I am watering. I turn on the sprinkler and get busy. At some point later that day, when the back 40 is completely saturated, I will notice the sprinkler is still on. Mumble a profanity and run to the garden to shut it off.
BENEFIT #4: BE A GARDEN ROCKSTAR
There is something especially magical about bringing vegetables, greens, and roots from the garden to the table in November and December. Few folks grow their own food in cooler months and it makes my heart soar.
Placing a spread of food on the table and being able to proudly announce, “I grew that!” has new meaning on Thanksgiving Day.
Sauteed greens, fresh salads, baked sweet potatoes, and raw beets have all gone straight from my garden to my dinner table in the past week.
I am Wonderwoman.
BENEFIT #5: LOW MAINTENANCE
A fall garden is the lazy person’s garden.
The planting part is miserable (and hot), but the upkeep is a breeze.
Fall gardens have very little trouble once established. Typically fall is a wet time of year with regular rainfall. The flying pests have mostly died or migrated. It’s too cool for the diseases to spread. The weeds aren’t bad either.
BENEFIT #6: YOU’LL EAT HEALTHIER
Everyone knows fresher is better. The second a plant or vegetable is picked it begins deteriorating. The sooner you consume it, the more nutritious it will be.
- GOOD: Buy organic fruits & vegetables
- BETTER: Buy local organic fruits & vegetables
- BEST: Grow your own fruits & vegetables
If it is possible for me to be growing food – I am going to be growing food.
BENEFIT #7: SAVE MONEY
The more food you grow, the less you will need to purchase from a store or market. Depending on the size of your garden, the savings can be substantial.
If you have a huge garden, or a raised bed, or just a pot you can probably grow some of your food through most seasons. You’ll have fun doing it and be eating better too!
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