Autumn is, without a doubt, my favorite season. There are so many reasons I could get into, but that’s another post for another day. Today, I want to talk about one reason I tend to miss summer: it means saying goodbye to the garden.
The plants worked hard to grow all season long, and now many of them are starting get tired and fizzle out, so I’ve slowly begun trimming several of them down, digging them up, and growing more accepting of the idea that, in a few short weeks, it’ll be fully put to rest until next spring.
However, this year, I took the time to research some of the ways I could extend the life of my garden through the autumn months and even through some of those first major frosts, and I couldn’t be more excited to continue my beloved hobby through the fall!
Here are a few tips I thought may be valuable to you, if you’re looking to do the same.
Plant Hardy, Fast-Growing Crops
There are several vegetables that can withstand colder temperatures – and even some that can handle frost – and grow at incredibly rapid speeds, too. The majority of these tend to be root vegetables, but many leafy greens make the list as well. Depending on where you’re located in the Midwest, it is suggested that most of these be planted in “late summer” – mid-August through early September. Several of them will be ready to harvest within 45-60 days.
Here is a helpful list of hardy vegetables that can be included in your fall garden.
I picked up some of the following as seeds, and got them into the ground the last week of August:
I also relocated some Brussels sprouts and broccoli that weren’t in the best position in the garden during the summer (lack of light, poor soil), and am hoping that they take off in the fall.
Transplant into Pots + Move Inside
Perhaps you made a wiser move than me from the get-go and planted your herbs into pots from the get-go, so you can skip the first step of transplanting into containers. But I got a little overconfident this year and sowed several of mine straight into the ground, so I carefully dug those up and placed them into pots. Work slowly and carefully if the herbs are well established, so as not to cut the roots or cause too much shock to the plant. Here are some helpful tips for relocating plants.
I usually bring the basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, and sage inside over the colder months. In some cases, I’ve completely forgotten about them over the winter and have even presumed them to be totally lifeless, but find that trimming them down to their base, and showing them some TLC (water, sun, a poem or two) works wonders in bringing them back just in time for spring.
In other cases, they can go extra wild if they’re being taken care of well, and might need more attention (regular trimmings every few weeks) than what you have to pay them outside. A few years ago, our entire house smelled overwhelmingly of peppermint and I only thought to trim the plant when a friend asked, “What kind of little tree thing is that in your dining room?” Oof.
Aside from herbs, there are plenty of vegetables that you can grow indoors all-year round! Some of your potted veggies or smaller crops may be easily moved from your garden to your home, but in other cases, you may consider simply restarting them from seed inside. Here’s a list of vegetables that grow well indoors to get you inspired.
Take Notes for Next Year’s Garden
One step I believe is important to take in the fall is to photograph and/or jot down some information about your garden before digging anything up and planting anything else or preparing your beds for winter. I learned a lot this year about what worked and what didn’t, and while it’s still fresh in my mind now, I know that come spring, I’ll likely forget most of it.
I took some time to draw a map of the layout of our garden, labeling what I planted where this year and making notes beside each – how many of each plant, how they performed, what didn’t work, and so on.
I also listed out what plants I absolutely want to grow next year and made a note of a few that we should probably skip (either they didn’t perform well or we let too much go to waste because we’re not really fans of the produce.)
Taking a few minutes to do this now has the potential to save so much time, money, and planning next spring. You’ll set yourself up for going in with a solid plan rather than a rushed “huh, I wonder if we have room for this strange vegetable I’ve never even heard of before” / *tosses-it-into-the-cart-anyway* kind of greenhouse trip. I know I can’t be the only one who has been there before!. : )
I plan to share a bit about cleaning up and preparing your garden for winter in a few weeks, but if you’re at that point before then, here’s a helpful article on doing just that!
What are your tips for extending your gardening beyond the summer months? I’d love to hear your advice!