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
Picking root crops in the winter is also advantageous because root plants tend to convert starches to sugars during the winter in order to warm up the plant and keep it alive during cooler temperatures. Carrots, parsnips, beets and winter radish will all be much sweeter and less woody if picked in the winter and early spring months.
Many brassicas, lettuces, and spinach will flower and become bitter (as they put their energy into producing seeds) if they sense the temperature rising above a certain level (known as photoperiodism). Growing them in the cool of the fall will ensure that they still produce a healthy abundance of sweet and tender leaves.
The key to planning a fall garden is picking hardy vegetable varieties and using calendar math to count back from expected frost dates. The table below lists good candidates for a fall garden.
How to determine when to start fall crops
I also find the fall to be a great time to start your biennial and perennial plantings. Biennial crops (2 years life cycle) like onions/leeks, garlic, and swiss chard only flower in the second year and tend to be hardy enough to survive frost conditions. Planting them in the fall will give them a head-start for the following year’s crop and allow them to establish a strong root system.
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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