As summer approaches its close, we're all dealing with the sad truth -- the end of our spring gardens. After all, now that we're almost finished harvesting our veggies and fruits galore, we can't start planting again until next spring, right? Wrong!
Luckily, creating your dream garden is not only confined to the months of March, April, and May. In reality, in-the-know gardeners consider fall to be one of the best seasons to plant greenery.
Why Plant in the Fall?
In the extreme heat of summer, plants may experience stress and have difficultly achieving their full potential. At the same time, however, very cold weather brings conditions in which plants are likely to freeze and experience breakage. In the fall, temperatures above ground are typically mild, and thus ideal for plant growth.
Below the ground, fall brings warm soil, leftover from the hot sun during summer. This perfect combination of mild, cooler weather and warm soil results in a climate that will maximize root and top growth and strengthen new seedlings.
It's What Nature Wants
We all know that spring is the season of flowers. However, while flowers might be pretty for aesthetics, they don't contribute to the natural process of plant reproduction.
Meanwhile, in the fall, plants have fewer flowers and begin to produce and release seeds at a faster rate. By planting in the fall, you follow nature's pre-programmed gardening schedule!
Less Insect Damage
With warm weather and ample greenery, summer provides the ideal conditions for insects to thrive. As a result, when fall starts, the drop in temperatures means fewer insects!
Pests and other insects can hurt your garden by chewing on leaves, stems, roots, etc. or transmitting infections to your crops. As insect populations are smaller in the fall, plants can grow stronger and taller.
Fall is known for being a season with abundant rainfall. All of this moisture will ensure that your plants establish strong root systems and stay healthy without needing much supplemental watering.
Furthermore, in the cooler fall temperatures, soil and top growth can hold onto moisture better. So, even a little rainfall will go a long way.
By late summer, you will most likely be wrapping up your spring growing and harvesting the last of your fresh vegetables.
In the spring, weeds are plentiful and ready to grow. However, once the growing season is done, weed seed will remain dormant, making it easier to plant.
Longer Planting Periods
In the months between the end of the summer heat and the first frost of winter, there is ample planting time. This longer period for planting allows for gardeners to have more time to prepare their vegetable gardens and get seeds in the ground.
Additionally, spring weather tends to be more challenging to work around than in the fall. With an abundance of good planting days, it is a much easier gardening season.
They'll Be Ready for Spring!
By planting in the fall, you allow your crops to grow strong roots before the winter. By the time springs comes, they will be ready to bloom. This allows you to skip to the post-winter planting rush and sit back and relax.
What Do I Plant in the Fall?
There are so many amazing crops that you can plant in the fall, both indoors and outdoors. Of course, this may depend on your location. For instance, some plants may thrive in warm, drier climates, while others may do better in milder temperatures.
To learn more about which plants will work best for your area, look into your hardiness zone. Hardiness zones are determined by geographical location and are used to determine when and where different plants will thrive.
- Spring-blooming Bulbs (Zones 4-5)
Bulbs like tulips, lilies, and daffodils thrive in the cold weather that comes in winter. Fall is the best time to plant bulbs that you want to bloom in the spring.
- Blueberries (Zones 3-10)
When planted in the fall, blueberries will be ready to be picked by the coming spring. Plus, fall is an excellent time to grow as your blueberries will establish early growth and strong roots before spring.
- Garlic (Zones 3-10)
In most regions, fall is the best season to plant garlic. The cool weather is perfect for root system growth of the bulbs and allows for just enough time to establish itself before winter.
- Spinach (Zones 3-9)
In the heat, tender greens like spinach often bolt and become bitter. Fall is the perfect time to plant spinach for a spring harvest.
- Radishes (Zones 3-10)
Radishes are a good vegetable to grow in the early fall as they only take about 30 days from seed to harvest.
- Fall Flowers (Zones 5-10)
Varieties of flowers like Celosia, Asters, and Dianthus flourish when planted in October and will bloom starting early spring.
- Garlic (Zones 5-10)
In areas with milder fall temperatures, garlic can still be planted into the months of October.
- Shallots (Zones 5-10)
Planting shallots in the fall will give you a great crop for late spring. However, be aware: they are less cold-hardy than garlic and may not react as forgiving to light frosts.
- Kale (Zones 6-10)
Kale is fairly resistant to the cold and will grow well in cool seasons like fall and winter.
Meanwhile, many different plants can also be grown inside your home during the fall. Recently, gardeners have gotten into making indoor gardens with their own flower pots and dishes.
- Herbs (Zones 3-10)
Herbs are great indoor plants to grow in your home during the winter as they are equally delicious and easy to sustain. Some of our recommendations for herbs include Chive, Greek Oregano, Basil, and French Thyme.
- Sprouts (Zones 3-10)
Sprouts are delicious additions to sandwiches, soups, or salads, and are very easy to grow inside.
- Bell Peppers (Zones 3-10)
Bell peppers may take up more room in your home than herbs and sprouts, but you will reap the reward with a delicious and filling treat. To grow, peppers need to be in a space above 65 degrees with sunlight, so make sure your space checks off these conditions before you plant.
Final Fall Planting Tips
Before we let you go, here are a few final tips for your garden.
- Plant up to 6 weeks before the ground freezes! At this point, root growth stops until spring. 6 weeks allows ample time for roots to establish themselves before winter comes. If you do not know when the ground freezes in your location, use November as your cutoff.
- Use mulch! Mulch will insulate the ground and protect your plants from frost heaving.
- Remember to water your plants as needed! There are bound to be days, even weeks, without rain in your area, so make sure that your plants have enough water to sustain themselves.
Fall is a great time to revamp your garden. When it comes time to pick what to grow, there are so many options to choose from.
By the time spring comes along, your garden will be hopping with a beautiful array of plants.
If you're looking for more advice on gardening year-round, check out our Spring Gardening Tips and Summer Gardening Tips. Happy planting!