Thanks to Georgia’s temperate climate, planting a vegetable garden is not just something to look forward to in the spring. With cooler fall days just around the corner, whether you’re blessed with a green thumb or looking to take on a new hobby, now is the perfect time for planting a fall vegetable garden. Here are a few tips to ensure your fall harvest is bountiful.
Prep your garden area. Assuming you’re using the same space as a spring garden, pull out any dead plant material and weeds. If healthy plants remain from the spring/summer, simply plant around them. Since the soil from previous plantings may be depleted of nutrients, for best results be sure to add plenty of compost to the garden bed.
Select seeds wisely. Not all vegetable plants thrive in cooler temps, so when determining which seeds to use, consider their tolerance to cold. Root vegetables like beets, radish, carrots, and turnips; above ground veggies such as cabbage and broccoli; and leafy vegetables including spinach, lettuce and kale are all great options for a fall garden.
Seek out frost tolerant vegetables. Certain vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrots can tolerate a hard frost better than others, so be sure to incorporate frost tolerant veggies in your garden mix.
Timing is key. Timing is everything when it comes to planting a fall vegetable garden, and for optimal results, plan backwards. Begin by finding out your area’s average first frost date. Then, reference the number of days to maturity listed on the back of seed packets or on the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension vegetable planting chart. Finally, add two weeks to the maturity date since some vegetables may grow more slowly in cooler temps.
Don’t forget to water. While fall tends to be the driest time of the year here in Georgia, the cooler fall temperatures make watering the garden an easy task to forget. Keep in mind, in general fall vegetable seedlings and plants need between one and two inches of water per week.
Protect plants from frost. To extend the growing season later into the fall or even early winter, protect plants from frost by covering the garden with an old sheet, blanket, tarp, or row cover when frost is in the forecast.