Written by - Kaitlynn from MIgardener
The fall garden is often the forgotten treasure of the home gardener. Especially for beginners who might not be aware that a fall garden is a possibility! I didn't know fall gardens existed before working here at MIgardener, so let me share a little bit about what I have learned so far as I plan my first fall garden ever. It might seem early to post an autumn-themed blog in mid-July, but this is the perfect time to start planning!
Let's get started.
Spring can be stressful for gardeners (especially in Michigan). With cold northern winters, it's challenging to know when frost will end, and summer will begin. The spring tends to be the shortest and least predictable part of the growing season. Summer, on the other hand, is so hot that it's hard to enjoy being in the garden during the heat of the day. A fall garden offers the benefits of growing your food, plus the bonus of being able to enjoy a more laid back version of the hustle and bustle the main season garden can bring. Fall harvests are often the sweetest and most abundant of the year, especially if you are planting in succession in late July into early August.
Summer gardening is a lot of work. But starting seeds in late July/early August means your plants will mature during the colder months. Colder weather means a slowing down of the things that make gardening difficult: bugs and weeds. For beginners, the threat of pests can be extremely intimidating. With less of a chance for pests to interrupt your gardening, it will require less attention. Weeds will grow much slower, if at all, in a fall garden. Fall gardening also tends to be less moist than the spring, which keeps the threat of rot and powdery mildew away. These factors all take away the worry from first-time gardeners and puts more emphasis on enjoying the garden space.
Fall Garden Varieties
Most people assume you can only grow cold season crops in the fall. It's true, vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, and peas will thrive in the colder growing season of autumn. However, our thinking has to shift from looking at varieties based on their temperature requirements and focus more on their days to maturity. For example, there are varieties of tomatoes, beans, and peppers that will mature perfectly with the remaining time of the fall season. Heat-loving varieties will still be able to grow strong in August temperatures, and the fruit will mature slowly in the time before the first frost. Slowly ripened fruit will be the sweetest you have ever grown. If you plan it well, the same beds you used in your summer garden can be utilized for your fall crop!
All of the photos in this post are from the MIgardener garden and were taken between the month's Sep-Nov.
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