Your guide to summer gardening for the perfect fall harvest
While right now your summer days are filled with outdoor barbecues, sunbathing and hanging out by the pool, fall is right around the corner.
When you think of fall, what comes to mind? For us, it’s the cool and crisp weather, football, and the delicious vegetables we’re finally able to harvest from our garden!
Early to late summer is the ideal time to plant those fall vegetables. Many crops require a growing period of 60-100 days to yield the best results, which means you’ll need to start thinking about getting them in the ground now.
Before jumping right in, do your research to find out which vegetables are the best to plant for an autumn harvest, and just how long it’ll take for them to grow. Plan accordingly!
When (and what) to plant
These slower growing crops should be planted in the early summer as they’ll require anywhere from 90 to 120 days to fully grow.
- Winter squash & pumpkins
- Winter cabbage
- Brussel sprouts
Veggies such as the following can be planted in the middle of the summer. Under the right conditions, these delicious fall crops will take between 60 to 80 days to mature completely.
- Fall Cabbage
Fast-growing crops like the ones listed below are okay to plant at the end of summer. They require only about 30 to 50 days to develop.
- Fall radishes
- Green Onions
Our best-kept vegetable gardening secrets
Now that you know which vegetables are the best to plant in the summer for an autumn harvest, learn how we garden to get the best results.
Prepare the beds.
Before you start planting your crop, clean out your garden beds. Get rid of any debris, weeds, or dead plants. If you’re using old beds, add some more nutrients to the soil before re-planting. Till the beds and add compost or manure to fertilize.
Start your seeds indoors.
Your seeds will have a better chance of germinating if they are started in a controlled environment using a seed-starting mix, cell packs, plastic trays and plastic covers. When the seedlings are three weeks old, move them into the garden.
Keep the soil watered.
Dry soil can be a huge setback for your crops. Newly planted beds need to be kept moist long enough for seeds to germinate. Use a sprinkler system or hand-water the beds regularly. You can also try shading the beds with covers or cloths to keep the moisture in.
Defend your garden against pests.
Gardens attract a variety of pests, from worms and slugs to rabbits and moles. Try preventing damage to your garden caused by pests by using row covers, netting or fences.
Hey, speaking of pests–have you downloaded your copy of our Pest Encyclopedia?
Plan for frost days.
The Charlotte area typically sees its first frost between the last weekend of October and the first week of November. Figure out when your area’s first frost dates are, and plant accordingly.
While your garden’s summer vegetables (think beans, peppers, and cucumbers) will not survive, most of your fall harvest vegetables can handle a light frost.
Know exactly when to harvest your crop.
Sometimes the hardest part of growing vegetables is knowing exactly when to harvest them.
The only way to guarantee that your crops are ready for harvesting is the taste test. Although size and color can be good indicators of a fully grown crop, the taste test is a fail-proof way to ensure that your veggies are ripe.
Harvest your vegetables just before full maturity for the best flavor and texture.
For some popular fall vegetables, follow this guide for the best picking time:
Although summer conditions may not always be optimal for your fall veggie seedlings, bringing about the challenges of nurturing them and keeping your planting on schedule, the time you invest in your garden now will pay off big come fall.
Take good care of your crops, so when autumn rolls around you’ll have produced a bigger and healthier harvest.
- Beets: Ready any time after you see the beets’ shoulders above the soil.
- Broccoli: Don’t let the flower heads bloom, harvest the buds when they are about the size of a match head.
- Brussel Sprouts: Begin harvesting when the sprouts are at least an inch in diameter.
- Cabbage: Harvest when the cabbage head feels solid when squeezed.
- Cauliflower: Pick when the head looks full and while the curds of the head are smooth.
- Corn: Ready 3 weeks after the silks form, dry and turn upside down. The kernels will also have a milk-like substance when pricked.
- Kale: Harvest when the leaves are deep green in color and have a sturdy, firm texture.
- Onions: Pick when the tops have fallen over.
- Peas: Feel the pods for any undeveloped peas before picking.
- Radishes: Ready when the shoulders of the bulbs are popping out of the soil.
- Spinach: Harvest individual leaves when the plant is 6 inches tall.
- Squash: Cut the vine when the squash turns the color it is supposed to be.
Don't forget to keep your lawn well maintained to properly suit your beautiful garden. Schedule a service with Killingsworth's expert lawn care professionals today!