3 Steps to a Better Fall Garden
Article Summary: An overview of three aspects that will affect a garden in the Fall. It includes what to look for in soil, proper watering methods and measurements, as well as the best way to space vegetables. This is a beneficial article for anyone interested in starting fall garden and having better results.
*Refreshed and Updated September 2021*
The weather has cooled, the leaves are changing, and Fall has given us a reprieve from the hot Summer days. Halloween decorations are up, cinnamon candles are out, and pumpkin spice has completely taken over the food industry. So grab a pumpkin beer, put on a light jacket, and do some gardening.
Gardening is like taking care of five or six children; each one is unique in their wants and needs but there are simple methods that provide for them all. Awareness of Fall vegetables distinct characteristics is necessary, but following some general guidelines will keep work to a minimum and enjoyment maximum.
The important factors to look at are:
Amount of water
Sun exposure is important as well, but can be regulated by season (by choosing the right vegetables for the season) and amount of water used.
Researching and creating soil will potentially produce healthy and vibrant plants, but this can be time consuming for a person who just wants to enjoy some home-grown fun. There are a variety of bagged soils that will do a fine job at a reasonable price.
Vegetables love growing in rich and loose soil. “Loose” means that the soil drains well and isn’t too packed. Harder soils don’t have many nutrients and make it difficult for roots to mature. When shopping for bagged soil, look for any that includes organic material. Some components wanted in soil are peat moss, minerals, manure, and worms. They are great for aerating the soil and maintaining its nutrient levels.
Soil is also measured by its acidity and alkalinity which is referred to as the soil’s pH. While the science is fascinating and helpful, it can be extensive for the beginner or uninterested. What’s important is the scale, which ranges from 0-14 and 7 is neutral. Vegetables do best in soil that has a pH of 6.3 to 6.9. Keep this pH range in mind when purchasing bagged soil.
While there are certain vegetables that require more delicate care, the ones grown in Fall are already known to be more resilient. Therefore, keep a few things in mind. Do not over-water your garden. Vegetables generally need only 1 inch of water a week, whether by rain or irrigation system. If it gets hotter, then water the garden more, up to 2 inches of water a week. For those who don’t want to estimate an inch of water a week for your garden, there is a simple solution. Just keep the soil moist.
Use your fingers and place them about an inch to two inches into the soil. If it feels dry, then add water. If it’s almost muddy, do not add water. If it’s moist, that is optimum. Also check to see if any plants are dry or yellow. As a general rule, dry plants need water and yellow plants don’t need water.
The key is to water consistently. The best time to water is in the morning, when the plants will drink up the water and the sun will evaporate the unwanted amount. Watering plants gently at their base with The Garden Grid™ watering system also avoids the development of unwanted leaf diseases.
Similar to the other factors, plant spacing is critical to plant growth and unique to each vegetable. Below are the measurements between each seed when they are planted by area not rows, aka square foot gardening.
Fall Garden Plants: Growing Zones 8-11
These are vegetables that grow well in Zones 8-11 (tropical to temperate) which are typically the most productive areas for fall gardening. You can learn more about growing zones here and more specifically when it’s best for you to plant based on your zone.
- Turnips: 9 per Garden Grid™ square.
- Summer Squash: 1 per 2 Garden Grid™ squares.
- Broccoli: 1 per 2 Garden Grid™ squares
- Tomatoes: 1 per Garden Grid™ square.
- Peppers: 1 per Garden Grid™ square.
- Pumpkin: 1 per 2 Garden Grid™ squares
Growing Zones 5-7
These are vegetables that grow well in Zones 5-7 (temperate to cold). It is important to remember this as they will not do so well further into the higher zones/southern region.
- Beets: 9 per Garden Grid™ square.
- Broccoli: 1 per 2 Garden Grid™ squares
- Kale: 1 per Garden Grid™ square.
- Carrots: 9-16 per Garden Grid™ square (depending upon variety size).
- Cauliflower: 1 per 2 Garden Grid™ squares.
For a few more fall gardening planting ideas explore our other article ‘Top 10 Fall Plants to grow in your Garden‘ & ‘Fall & Winter Gardening Plant Spacing in The Garden Grid™‘