When it comes to survival gardening exploiting the growing season to its maximum becomes a necessity. With autumn right around the corner, you shouldn’t worry about the shorter days and cooler nights. Rather than giving up on you gardening plans, try planting the following hardy vegetables in your fall garden.
My mother used to say that “every end is a new beginning” and I find this to be true in many aspects of life. When it comes to gardening during this time of year, there’s always a new start and crops to try for your fall garden. You just need another approach to make sure you have fresh vegetables. Many of your crops will be sown directly in the soil as there’s no time for indoor seed germination.
As an added bonus, the wedding becomes much easier when the air is cool and you can do this job even at high noon. You don’t have to get up early to beat the heat. Not to mention that there’s less work involved when it comes to watering your garden. Mother Nature will do most of the watering for you during the autumn months.
For your fall garden, you should pick those vegetables that actually thrive under the frosty conditions. Therefore, we should look at the top 10 hardest vegetables you can try this autumn.
Know your zone and dates before you start your fall garden
Before you start sowing, you should become familiar with growing season and figure out how much you can extend it. That means it’s crucial to know the hardiness zone in which you live. If you’re not new to gardening, you should know by now that the USDA Hardiness zone map divides North America into 12 separate zones. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.
By knowing your hardiness zone you will be able to plant various types of vegetables that can survive the cold of autumn. That being said, you should know your area’s frost date and the time needed for the plants to reach maturity.
You need to give your plants plenty of time to mature before the first sign of frost. For your fall garden, you should plant quick maturing vegetables no later than mid-September.
10 Hardy vegetables to try this fall
Although not all kids like broccoli, this is one of the healthiest vegetables you could choose for your fall garden. It grows easily and can withstand frost. Broccoli needs to be planted at least a month before the first sign of frost. It is known that broccoli thrives in frost and that’s why many gardeners prefer to plant it in the later part of summer. For fall plantings, seed 85 to 100 days before your average first fall frost.
For your fall garden, it is important to select the right type of cabbage. There are two main types of cabbage: early and late. Pick late cabbages to plant them during mid-summer. These vegetables are ideal to grow in the fall since they love cool and moist temperatures. Most cabbage varieties take up to 100 days to reach full maturity.
These vegetables should be in every survival garden as they can be grown in just about any season. Not to mention that they can be preserved in the ground with good results. Some gardeners say that the sweetest carrots are those grown in the fall. To make sure you have a good yield, you can protect your carrots from the cold by covering their roots in mulch.
Related reading: How To Preserve Food In The Ground Like The Pioneers
Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials that can thrive in your fall garden. As you probably know, chives are great for tossing a salad or to be used as a mild substitute for parsley. You can harvest chives 60 days after seeding and they can grow well next to carrots.
After years of gardening, I can say that lettuce is one of the hardiest of vegetables in my fall garden. There are many varieties you can try and you can enjoy fresh salads year round. It grows well in the fall in most regions and lettuce seedlings are able to tolerate a light frost. If you want to plant some in your fall garden, create cool soil in August by moistening the ground and covering it with a bale of straw. After a week, the soil under the bale should be about 10° F cooler than the rest of the garden. Sow a three-foot row of lettuce seeds every couple of weeks and make sure to rotate the straw bale around the garden.
Radishes need to be planted in late summer since they need only 30 to 60 days to ripen. You should wait until their roots are at least one inch in diameter to harvest. Beets are somehow similar, but the time required to ripe for picking is a bit longer. It takes them 60 to 110 days to mature. Your beets should be harvested when they peek out from the top of the soil.
Compared to all the other hardy vegetables in your fall garden, onions take longer to reach maturity. They need around 110 to 140 days to mature, so you will need to plant them in early summer. These vegetables need climates with the longest growing seasons. You can use onion sets, which can be planted without worry of frost damage. They have a higher success rate compared to direct seeding or transplants.
I’m always plating garlic before the first sign of frost and I learned to use it outside my kitchen as well. It’s a good insect repellent and it has many medicinal properties. In areas that get a hard frost, plant garlic 6 to 8 weeks before the frost date. Fall planting gives it a jump start on the growing season and it will be one of the first things to come up in the garden next spring
Related reading: Garlic Growing And Its Benefits
Although peas do not stay fresh long after the harvest as the other vegetables from your fall garden, you can still enjoy them while you can. Plant peas as soon as the ground can be worked. The key is to plant only varieties with a known tolerance of (or resistance to) heat and diseases. The goal in fall planting is to time growth so that the first flowering occurs before the first frost in fall. Depending on the variety, that means planting 70 to 90 days before your average earliest hard-frost date.
Squash and pumpkin can be planted during summer and harvest just in time for Halloween. They will have plenty of time to mature if you leave them enough space in your fall garden. It takes 80 to 110 days for squash to fully ripen. These hardy vegetables are ideal for your fall garden since they can provide for you throughout the winter into the following spring. I’ve tried varieties such as acorn squash or butternut squash with great success.
No matter what you decide to grow in your fall garden, these vegetables will be far superior to those you can find in a grocery store. They will cost less and most importantly, they will show you how to become self-sustainable. Growing your own food is much more rewarding when you can extend the gardening season. Not to mention that the colder soil temperature of late fall will sweeten the flavors of the vegetables listed above. Plan your fall garden properly and you will be able to enjoy fresh vegetables when others are rushing to the store.