Late Summer is the perfect time to revitalize your garden by planting cool-weather crops in the spaces created from harvesting your summer crops. Some of the benefits of fall planting, beyond the obvious increase in fresh produce, are fewer pests to deal with and cooler temps for gardening chores - like weeding.
The first step is to prepare the soil. Start by pulling out any straggly vegetables past their prime along with any weeds. Turn over the soil and add compost or fertilizer to help replace the nutrients the new plants will need to thrive.
There are basically two options for fall crops and you need to choose the one that best matches your tastes and growing zone. The first one is to plant things that take longer to mature, such as cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage. Read the seed packet to ensure you start or sow them in time to let them reach maturity.
The second option is to plant things that grow quickly or can be picked young, such as radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and lettuce. You can also choose quick maturing types of turnips, beets, and carrots or flavorful herbs such as cilantro, sage and thyme.
The trickiest part of fall gardening is keeping the seeds and young plants moist. Late summer and early fall can be dry or wet, so you will have to pay attention and water your garden accordingly. It is also important to keep weeding the garden – and NEVER let a weed go to seed!
As the fall season winds down, pay close attention to frost warnings and be ready with a sheet or to harvest quickly. Note that many of these crops can stand a light frost, and some, like beets, kale, collards, and radishes can stand a hard frost.
So, get out there and keep gardening!