Here in the Rogue Valley, usually, tomatoes, peppers and melons are generally hitting their late summer stride. The weather has been so odd, however, many of us are seeing lagging crops that will likely be carrying into later September or even October. However, it’s easy to forget that autumn and early winter can be as abundant as spring and summer are supposed to be. Those who seize the opportunity for a second season of growth will find the planning and planting well worthwhile.
The steps to a bountiful fall garden are simple. Choose crops suited to fall growing conditions (see the list of crops and recommended varieties at the end of this article). Ensure your chosen site has organically enriched soil and adequate water. And start now. If you don’t have seeds on hand, check out the source list at the bottom of this article.
You can replace spring-planted lettuces, peas and brassicas (broccoli and its relatives) with new plantings that mature in fall. Seeds and transplants will take off quickly in the warm summer soil. They’ll appreciate cooler nights, too.
Look forward to peak flavor and performance for many crops that do not prosper in summer heat. Lower temperatures are ideal for producing crisp lettuces without the bitterness or bolting that can occur in hot weather. Frost-kissed kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage have a special sweetness. Carrots, beets and turnips also thrive in the fall garden and, after harvest, can be kept in a pantry or root cellar so you can enjoy their goodness well into winter. Collards, mustard and other greens also like cool weather.
Favored Crops for Fall
When deciding what to plant now for fall harvest, gardeners throughout most of the country should think greens and root vegetables.
Leafy greens (such as lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and mâche) and root veggies (such as beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and rutabagas) as well as brassicas (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and Chinese cabbage) and peas will all thrive in the cooler weather and shorter days of fall. In many regions, some of these cold-hardy crops will even survive the winter to produce a second harvest in spring.
Fall is a prime garden season in the Pacific Northwest, where abundant rain and cool (but not frigid) temperatures are ideal for growing brassicas, root crops and leafy greens planted in mid- to late summer. The hardiest of these crops often hang on well into winter if given protection, such as row covers or cold frames.