This year, I decided to plant a fall garden.
The idea came to me when I asked a friend what I could plant. “It’s too late,” he said. As always, I looked for a solution because someone told me something is not possible.
Google came to the rescue, and I found out I could plant lettuce. “Victory over nature!” I thought. I found bright green lettuce plants for sale at the local coop, and I purchased Leaf-Gro from a local nursery.
Four Things I Knew:
- Prepare good soil: The lettuce I grew earlier in the season tasted bitter. I blame the soil and prepared better soil this time around.
- Weather trends: From experience, I know that the weather can stay relatively warm through November. One Thanksgiving, we were able to sit on the unheated porch. The flowering plants often stay alive well into November. I figured this gave me a little more time to get a small plant to reach harvest time.
- Early Frost: In case the weather surprises me, I know I need to be prepared for the chance of an early frost.
After taking the above into consideration, I set up the raised beds. Since they are black, they attract heat and keep the above-ground soil warmer than the soil below. I added LeafGro (an organic Maryland product comprised of mulched leaves), Cockadoodle DOO (chicken manure), and an organic fertilizer. I worked everything into the soil with a shovel before planting the vegetables.
A few days after I planted the lettuce, I added cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. On Twitter, I asked other gardeners if I was nuts to plant vegetables this late. One said, “Only if you live in New York.” That person lives in upstate New York. Another person said to wait until March before planting cauliflower. Everyone has different advice. The only way I will learn, I decided, is if I test it myself.
By the way, I also planted garlic, which likes to be planted about this time of year. After nine months, I’ll see results. I’m excited and will write more about the process and what I learned in another post.
Other points to consider:
- Cold frame: I can extend the growing season with a cold frame.
- Porch greenhouse: I may turn my enclosed side porch into a winter greenhouse with grow lights. If the weather ends up getting too cold too fast, then I may move the plants indoors.
- Kale is a survivor: One year, I looked out the window at all the snow and saw the kale leaves peeking through deep snow. Nothing has killed my kale yet. I would place a bet on the survival of the new plants.
What are you planting in your fall garden? Or, what are you doing to prepare your garden for winter or for the next growing season?