While many think spring is the best time for gardening, fall is a great time to start a garden in the south. The mild temperatures make it the perfect season to grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Here are a few tips to help you get started growing a fall garden.
1. Growing a Fall Garden: Choose the Right Plants
Some common garden plants, like tomatoes and peppers, take longer to mature and need warm temperatures to produce fruit. These grow best when started in spring. However, plenty of plants, like kale, collards, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts, tolerate cooler weather and taste sweeter after a frost. Research or ask a local garden center to learn which plants will do best in your area.
2. Amend the Soil
Fall is the perfect time to add compost or other organic matter to your garden beds. Amending the soil improves drainage and provides essential nutrients for your plants. Work the amendments into the top 6-8 inches of soil when preparing the garden beds.
3. Growing a Fall Garden: Start with Seedlings
If you’re short on time, get a head start on the fall garden by planting transplants instead of seeds. Harden them off by slowly acclimating them to outdoor conditions over a week or two.
4. Water Wisely
Even though it’s cooler in the fall, your plants will still need water to thrive. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth. Mulching around plants will also help conserve moisture and prevent weeds from sprouting.
5. Growing a Fall Garden: Keep an Eye out for Pests
You’ll see fewer insects in fall, but aphids, cabbage worms, and spider mites are common pests in vegetable gardens. Be on the lookout for these pests and take action if you spot them on your plants. Remove the pests by hand or spray the plants with soapy water to get rid of minor infestations.
6. Enjoy the Harvest
Growing your food is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a gardener. Not only will you save money at the grocery store, but you’ll also enjoy fresh, delicious produce grown just steps from your back door.
Following these tips, you’ll be on your way to growing a bountiful fall garden. Choose the right plants, amend the soil, start with transplants if necessary, water wisely, and keep an eye out for pests throughout the season.