Summer is the main event for most gardeners. Here in Michigan, we know that the fall growing season can be just as rewarding. Sometimes even with less effort! It may seem early, but mid-July is the best time to preparing for a fall garden. Find your estimated first frost date here and make a plan. With anything you plant, remember to factor in germination time with days to maturity for a perfectly timed harvest.
Let’s talk through the best ways to start prepping your garden for fall!
The struggles of the summer season are familiar to all of us. Weeding while sweaty as the sun beats down, and batting thriving pests in the perfect humid (nonetheless beautiful) buffet of the garden. Luckily, fall offers a reprieve from these conditions. One round of clean-up is required to prepare for a fall harvest. Get your and on those weeds, and clear out spent plants to free up some space. Your new seedlings and seeds will find a home there soon. Prune your plants to prevent disease and encourage further growth. Harvest ripened fruit. Dispose of any diseased plants and compost everything else.
Start These Varieties Indoors
This is your prompt to get started with your second round of seed starting! Break out those trays and seed starting mix and get excited to see new life. Cold hardy crops are the shining stars of the fall garden. Start brassicas like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi indoors in the next few weeks. The seedlings will be ready for transplanting into the garden by early August. When frost inevitably rolls around, the harvest will grow sweeter each day.
Refuel the Soil
After months of growing spring and summer varieties, your soil may need a little TLC. Add a new layer of compost to each bed that you want to utilize. If you want to be thorough, perform a soil test to see what nutrients the soil needs to fuel up on! A helping of Trifecta+ or a nitrogen-rich fertilizer will do the trick. Don’t clear away or cover the current mulch layer. That’s a job for the end of the growing season! Instead, push aside the mulch and pull it back around the newly amended soil. For more info on soil amendments, click here!
Direct Sow These Varieties Soon
The summer soil is perfectly preheated for outdoor seed sewing! After re-amending your beds, many fall garden varieties can be planted directly in the ground. Root veggies like carrots, beets, and parsnips will have plenty of time to get started. Also, the best part about growing root vegetables in the cooler season is the harvest becoming sweeter and sweeter each day. Root vegetables also store themselves in the autumn months! Self-storage means they won’t rot in the ground. Harvest them at any time before heavy snow. Peas and beans will also mature well in the cold season. The mild weather will keep these varieties from sunburn and overheating. As always, lettuce thrives in cool weather and matures quickly! Now is the best time to get these varieties direct sown into your garden!
Note: If your summer crops like tomatoes and peppers are still producing, intercrop your fall varieties in between them to save on space! Your soil will thank you. Many fall varieties mentioned in this blog will return nutrients to the soil with their nitrogen-fixing powers!
– Kaitlynn from MIgardener
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