Start your Fall Vegetable Garden Organically!

Does summer's heat and humidity have you and your garden drooping? Don't despair, fall is just around the corner. Along with the cooler temperatures comes a chance to renovate your garden, or even to start a garden if you didn't have one during spring or summer.

Many organic gardeners have found that they are able to grow certain crops much more successfully in the fall than in the spring! This is most likely due to decreased insect and disease problems as well as the fact that weather tends to be more consistent in the fall than in the spring.

5 Fall crops for your organic vegetable garden

Broccoli- "Packman" is a good, early maturing, broccoli variety. If you want to get multiple harvests off of the same plant, try a variety such as "De Cicco" which produces an abundance of side shoots after the main broccoli head is harvested.

Garlic- Fall is the time to plant garlic for harvest next spring! In colder areas of the country, try stiffneck garlics such as "Russian Red". For warmer areas, the spicier softneck garlics such as "Inchelium Red" are well worth a try.

Cabbage- Try "single serving" sized varieties such as "Gonzales" or beautiful, anti-oxidant rich, red cabbages such as "Super Red 80"

Lettuce- Plant "Rouge D'Hiver", "Val D'Orge", "Four Seasons", "Reine Des Glaces" and other cold tolerant lettuces for fresh salads all season long.

Kale- kale will often keep you supplied with fresh greens well into winter, especially if you plant winter hardy varieties such as "Winterbor" or "True Siberian"

Once you have decided what you will grow this fall, you will have to get your garden ready for action!

Before you plant your fall crop, make sure that you have adequately tilled and amended your soil (with lime, compost, etc.) as needed. You can find out what nutrients you need to add to your garden by getting your soil tested (ask your county's cooperative extension office for details). You will also have to remove any old plant debris from the garden area in order to get rid of any insect pests or plant diseases it may harbor. Any rotting tomatoes, giant zucchinis or withering zinnias will do you more good in your compost pile than in your garden at this point!

Some supplies that will come in handy for your fall garden are mulch (hay and fallen leaves are two good organic mulches) and floating row cover which are both useful for protecting your plants from cold. If you are growing a lot of broccoli, cabbage, kale or other members of the brassica family, you may want to keep some Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) on hand in order to control cabbage worms.

While planning your fall garden, don't be afraid to experiment: many organic gardeners grow flowers, peas, potatoes, spinach and other traditional spring crops very successfully in the fall.

So, don't put your garden favorites on the back burner just because the days are getting shorter. Put them in the front flower bed instead!

Recommended Reading:

There's a Goosefoot in my Garden
It's Easy to Grow Great Garlic
How Does Your Garden Grow Part One: Getting to Know Your Soil
Bountiful Basil

Digg! digg it

Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.