Welp, it's that time of year again. It’s time to start thinking about your fall garden. Right now you are probably thinking, this girl, she’s crazy! I promise I’m not crazy. You need to start planning for your fall garden earlier than you would think. So let me give you a quick guide on when to start planting for your fall garden and what you can plant in it.
Let’s start with the “when” of starting your fall garden. You want to start planting for your fall garden about 75 days before the estimated first frost of your hardiness zone. A hardiness zone is assigned to most plants and it is a way to make sure that your plants will survive and thrive in the temperatures of your zone. But if you don’t know what your hardiness zone is, don’t worry! It's very easy to find out, just click on this link https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/ and then type in your zip code in the search bar. You will then be able to find out your hardiness zone. The next step after discovering the hardiness zone for your garden is to figure out when your first frost will be. Don’t worry, I will tell you exactly how to find that out. Go to this link https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates and type in your zip code in the search bar. Then like magic, you will know when your zone’s first frost date is.
The first frost date for your zone is the key check point to figuring out when you should start your fall garden. Once you know your first frost date you then want to count back about 75 days and then that is when you want to start planting your fall garden. If you wait until it has already started getting cold then it’s probably too late. Let me use my garden as an example. I live in the hardiness zone of 6A and the date of my zone’s first frost is October 20th. Then I count backwards 75 days from October 20th and the date is August 9th. I need to start getting my fall garden planted ASAP. Of course there is always a little wiggle room when it comes to these dates because no one can predict the weather accurately so far in advance. I would give these dates about a 2 week grace period. I’ve already started planting some of the fall vegetables in my raised beds, but I haven't done all of them yet. But also just remember these dates mentioned above are just for zone 6A.
Now that we’ve got the “when” of the fall garden figured out, let’s talk about the “what”. What veggies should we plant in our fall garden? Since we will be growing and harvesting our fall garden in cooler temperatures, then it would make sense that we want veggies that are more cold tolerant. Some of those veggies are brassicas, roots veggies, and other cold tolerant vegetables. Let me break that down even more for you. Brassicas are an umbrella term that includes several different types of veggies. Examples of brassicas are cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. These types of vegetables do well in colder temperatures. The next grouping of veggies you can plant in your fall garden are root vegetables. These include carrots, radishes, turnips, and beets. Some examples of some additional cold tolerant veggies are peas, bok choy, and lettuce. Don’t be concerned about what vegetables you can grow in your garden because there are lots of options.
For the final step of creating your fall garden, just get outside and do it! Do your research and have fun extending your growing season.