Additional Tips for Fall Planting

Gardening Tips
Fall Planting

Planting in the fall offers numerous advantages. Above all, it's the cooler weather, which can help many plants. As you probably know, there are many vegetables and other plants that do not tolerate hot weather, so planting in the fall is the best time to make them thrive.

However, in order for your fall planting to be successful, there are some steps you need to take. One of the most important things you need to do before planting is to check your soil's pH levels. It's vital to check your soil for acidity because this is the only way to ensure proper growth for your plants. Luckily, checking your soil's pH levels is not expensive and can be done easily.

Calculate the Best Planting Date

The first thing you need to do is to calculate the best planting date for your vegetables and other plants you want to have in your garden. This optimal date will largely depend on the first frost date in your area. In other words, you will need to count backwards to find the best planting date for your vegetables.

This date will largely depend on the time to maturity of your plants. Keep in mind, time to maturity is an important factor and it's unique to every plant you wish to grow. If in doubt, check your plant's seed bag or container. If the information is not available there, ask in your local garden center or search online. It's vital to know the exact date to maturity for your plants.

Once you know this date and the date of average (or predicted) first frost in your area, the calculation is easy. For example, if the date of maturity is 50 days (about 7 weeks), simply count back from the predicted date of maturity using this number. Add another week or two just in case of early frosts and you will get your earliest planting date. Also, adding another week or two will also allow your plants additional time to breathe and mature.

Keep in mind that the frosts often happen before the predicted dates. In most places, the first frost happens in mid to late October.

Also, keep in mind that the frost can take various forms. First of all, there is a light breeze, which falls between temperatures of 29 and 32 degrees F. It can destroy most of the tender plants but the more hardy plants will be fine. A moderate freeze happens at temperatures between 25 and 28 degrees F. It affects most vegetation, particularly fruit blossoms. Finally, there is the severe breeze, with temperature lower than 24 degrees F. This weather will destroy about any variety of plants.

Luckily, the first breeze is usually light. It means that not all of the plants will be destroyed when it happens. However, you will sure want to avoid that so it's best to plant your veggies very early in the fall.

Why it's Great to Plant in the Fall?

Many people strongly prefer to plant in the fall, and it makes sense. There are numerous advantages to fall planting. Sometimes, it may seem complex but it's actually easier than it sounds.

You might also be wondering if it's possible to enjoy your favorite spring vegetable in the fall. The answer is yes, for most vegetable varieties. Spring and fall are both considered "cool seasons", so a vegetable variety that can thrive in one will do great in the other.

One of the best things about fall planting is that you get to work in the cooler weather. As long as you choose "cool season" varieties there will be no problem. These veggies are capable of roughing in the cooler temperatures so you don't have to worry about it.

Testing Your Soil

Before you start, however, it's best to test your soil. It's the most critical step in ensuring a great harvest and healthy plants. You need to test your soil's pH levels to ensure that the soil's acidity falls under the optimal levels.

Testing your soil is very inexpensive. Sometimes, you can do it for as little as $1.50, so make sure to do it before you plant your veggies. This test will tell you what plants respond the best to the soil conditions. It will tell you which veggies to plant to have the best harvest.

In case you truly wish to grow plants that do not respond well to your garden soil, you can amend the garden. However, it can be a tiring process so it's best to consult a professional. Keep in mind that it's possible to fully improve your garden so if you really wish to grow a specific vegetable variety or another plant, you will probably be able to do so.

Photo credit: Glenn Kraeck

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