Summers are hot and dry, and the list of problems many gardens have to deal with is expansive. Still, you have an excellent opportunity to enjoy a growing season when summer eventually moves into autumn. As the season's change, autumn brings another chance for you to sow and grow your cooler seasonal vegetables, such as carrots or arugula. But what kind of a choice should you make regarding your crop choices? How do you fit all those choices into your garden, and how do you make a successful autumn solution? The following tips aim to give you a hand in that.
Using Four Step Planting Strategy
You have four planting opportunities for your autumn garden, so you need to make the right choice of crops for each of those windows: you should start by determining your first freeze date, which in most cases is around three weeks after the first frost date. In this case, frost means the end of the warm-season crops such as basil and tomatoes, but it also benefits the cooler season plants like kohlrabi or bok choy. This triggers the production of sugars in the above-ground parts of the plants.
Step One: 14 to 12 Weeks Before Hard Freeze
There is enough time for you to put in late sowing of salad cucumbers, snap beans or summer squash for a fast-maturing crop. If you have the luck of mild weather, you should plant parsnips or beets in beds. Inside, where the crops will be sheltered, you should start with seeds of broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, rutabaga, kohlrabi and the faster-maturing types of cauliflower. This is a great season to try on some new varieties of these plants and other types of cabbages. Other vegetables you can start growing indoors include parsley and bulb fennel.
Step Two: 11 to 10 Weeks Before Hard Freeze
If you don't have your seedlings, you should look up what you can in garden centres. You can set out cabbage family crops as they near transplanting size, then cover them using tulle to keep insects away. Sow a fast maturing type of carrot in a fertile bed, then cover it up with a shade cover or an old blanket. This should help keep the soil moist between each watering. If the weather allows it, you can sow cilantro, bibb, romaine or butterfly lettuce and radishes. You should start with large-rooted daikons or Chinese radishes, as they need more time to grow than salad radishes. This is also a great time to plant winter cover crops, such as winter peas, cold-resistant grains, crimson clover or hairy vetch.
Step Three: 9 to 8 Weeks Before Hard Freeze
In this step, it's time to choose from several greens - spinach, arugula, turnips, or Asian greens such as bok choy, tatsoi or Chinese cabbage. You can plant more lettuce and salad radishes, assuming you want that and have the space.
Step Four: 7 to 6 Weeks Before Hard Freeze
You can sow smaller winter crops, such as mache, spinach and cold-resistant lettuce, in beds outfitted with covers. The seedlings that grow to about 8 centimetres before the cold weather stop their growth, waiting under the glass or plastic, then resume growing once spring arrives. You can also plant shallots or garlic when the first hard freeze happens. The cloves will slowly grow their roots, with their tips emerging from the ground before the winter is over.