Plant cool crops for an extra inning of healthy harvest
— The growing season isn’t over with the arrival of cool weather. Until the first hard frost hits, you have time to plant, pick and plate delicious homegrown coolweather crops — and save yourself some money in the produce aisle.
Favorable fall conditions mean growing cool weather crops is comparatively easy, with less care needed for a successful garden. Cool crops will start out strong, growing quickly and then slow their growth as days become shorter and cooler. You’ll also need to work less to protect your garden from destructive pests, as both insect and animal populations will taper off in fall. And since weeds will germinate less frequently, growing slower, weeding won’t be a timeconsuming task. Finally, more rain and less sun and heat reduce the risk of crops falling victim to drought or too much heat.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of fall gardening is that you’ll have fresh, healthy produce on hand well into the cooler season. Many autumn vegetables can endure
the first few frosts if you provide them with proper protection, like row covers, cold frames or cloche. Some varieties — like spinach, collards and kale — actually taste better when nipped by frost. Fall growing tips The first step to success is to know your growing season. In warm climates, fall crops can actually thrive throughout winter. In colder areas, the growing season will be shorter. Not sure when frost will arrive in your area? Check out the USDA frost map on the Bonnie Plants website.
Next, you need to ensure your growing spot is in tip-top shape. Regardless of where you choose to plant your garden — in the sunniest spot in the yard or in containers — it’s important to get the soil in shape; test the soil and add amendments if needed. Clear the ground and containers of any leftover garden debris, then add a 2-inch layer of mulch or compost, plus a balanced, natural fertilizer like Bonnie Plant Food, for a strong, healthy start.