As into the middle of harvest time for many of my summer crops, instead of starting to wind down for the year I’m starting to plan my fall garden crop rotations. It may not make sense to try to stuff more plants into what already seems like a jungle, but extending your vegetable garden into the fall is easier than it sounds and will keep the harvest going deep into the winter.
For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.Edwin Way Teale
Growing a new rotation of annual crops in the fall/winter avoids many of the problems (pests, watering, bolting, etc.) that you normally have to deal with for summer crops. Although the days get shorter in the fall, temperatures tend to be more consistent and insects slow down their lifecycles to settle into hibernation.
How to determine when to start fall crops
Count back from the average first frost date in your area. I like to also add 2 weeks to allow for the slower growth that happens in the fall. For example, we live in zone 7a here in northern Virginia and our first frost date is October 15, so our start dates for some example fall crops looks like this.
One of the keys to growing for the fall is making sure the plants are big enough before the days get too short. One of my tricks is to start root crops very early in the summer (June) and then grow them in full shade before transplanting them in the early fall.
Finally, I also prefer doing transplants of berry bushes and other perennial vegetables or herbs in the fall because it gives them extra time to get acclimatized, with the possibility of getting a good harvest the very next year.
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