Fall HarvestWhen most people think about gardens in the fall, they usually picture ripe, orange pumpkins ready to pick, apples being picked off the tree, and baskets overflowing with fresh vegetables. Fall is the time when the summer vegetables and fruits finish ripening and become ready to enjoy. For many people, this season marks the end of the year for their gardens, and they are busy cleaning out the old plants and covering their garden beds with plastic for the winter. This has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Not just because I get to pick all the apples I want and eat all the fresh vegetables I want, but also because it's time to plant my fall garden.
Even in places like my home in Seattle, where we end up getting frosty mornings so quickly come fall time, there are many vegetables that can be grown successfully and are fairly frost-hardy. These plants include leafy crops like kale, lettuce, spinach, and swiss chard. Root crops like beets, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, radishes, and turnips. As well as broccoli, cauliflower and peas. These frost-hardy plants also make the best choices for the very first plantings in early spring.
If you're lucky to have a longer autumn season before the mornings turn frosty, then you can have your choice of any cool season crops, including: arugula (rocket), beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, celery (mild winter climates), chard, fennel, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard greens, onions (bulbing), onions (bunching--standard onions harvested before they form bulbs), Pak choi (Bok choy), and coriander (cilantro).
As with any gardening adventure, it's always best to do your research. Find out what grows well in the climate you have. Plant nurserys and your local county extension office will usually be more than happy to help you learn what kinds of cool season crops can do well in your area. Also make sure to research what the different crops need in terms of light/shade, and water. During the fall, you won't need to water a garden as much as you would in the hot summer months, but it's still important to make sure your plants are getting the water they need. Also make sure to find out what fertilizing needs your garden will have. During the wetter months of autumn, plants will usually need more fertilizer to ensure adequate nutrients in the soil. Above all, remember to have fun!
Enjoy your summer harvest, and get those cool season crops planted!