As many people spent more time at home this spring and summer, they started gardens as a fun activity for the whole family, and as a source of fresh food. Vegetable crops can generate a plentiful harvest if properly cared for, and they provide healthy, homegrown options for meals and snacks. But just because summer is starting to wind down and communities are beginning to open back up doesn’t mean you have to pack up your garden for good.
There are still plenty of vegetables that grow well into fall and even the winter. They are hardy against light frosts and don’t mind the cooler temperatures. Instead of putting your garden on hold, transition it to a new season and new crops.
Prepare Garden Beds
Pull out the remnants of any summer plants that have passed their peak, as well as any weeds that have snuck their way in. Till up the soil so that it is soft and ready for planting. You may want to incorporate nutrient-rich compost or fertilizer to give new seeds and plants an extra boost.
Think about layout as well. You don’t want plants to crowd one another and fight for space, sunlight, or water. Read seed packages to see how far to space seeds apart, and how large they are expected to grow. Don’t forget to check the days to maturation as well so you know when to start planting and how long until you’ll see results.
Pick Your Vegetables
A lot of the vegetables that do well in the fall are root vegetables and lettuces. A few options include:
Broccoli and cauliflower are fairly easy to grow as well, but they tend to be more sensitive to frost and cold weather and should be started ahead of time before being transplanted into the garden. Beans can also be a good choice as they have a short maturation period, and you can get in several harvests before winter.
Although pumpkins seem like they would be the perfect autumn vegetable, they actually prefer warm weather and should be planted in mid- to late summer. These may be crops you already have growing in your garden and want to leave into the fall until they fully mature.
Protect Your Plants
Some plants do well with a light frost, while others are not quite as hardy. You may want to look into crop covers or ground covers to provide an extra layer of protection. Adding mulch or mulched up leaves can be a simple solution and help you get rid of some of the debris that’s already gathering in your yard.
One of the benefits of cooler weather is that it can actually keep your produce fresher longer. You don’t have to pick kale, cabbage, or lettuce as soon as it’s ready. It can survive out in the garden for a few weeks until you’re ready to use it – assuming it’s protected from wildlife! This means you can harvest crops throughout the fall and into winter to have fresh vegetables on hand.
It can be incredibly rewarding to watch your garden thrive throughout the year, and you can share any extra crops with neighbors so they don’t go to waste. It’s a great way to pay it forward and help others have access to fresh produce. Just make sure you check with your HOA to verify the size and placement of your garden meet association guidelines. Kuester can help HOAs maintain regular communication with members and address a variety of questions. Contact us today to learn more about available services.