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Take Advantage of the Growing Season

by on October 02, 2012 6:09 AM

Though the temperature changes and the days are shorter in October, the fall months still provide gardeners with the opportunity to reap the benefits of a personal garden.

Avid gardens know there are just a few simple steps to nurture a fall garden, ensuring a luscious harvest.

  • Replace spring plants with crops suited for the fall weather conditions: Though some herbs, fruits and vegetables can’t live during the chilly fall months, many crops enjoy the cool nights the season provides. Leafy greens, root vegetables and fruit trees flourish during the cooler nights when planted in the summer-warmed soil. Look for vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, broccoli to do exceptionally well during the fall.
  • Check seed packets and catalogues for plant maturity dates: Because daylight hours do affect the productivity of plants, the time that is needed for a plant to reach harvest maturity in the fall differs from the time needed in the spring and summer. The shorter fall days can delay plant maturity, so gardeners should check the amount of time that is needed for a plant to reach adulthood. Gardeners should also add at least a week to the time needed for plants to grow to account for the shorter fall days.
  • Re-enrich garden beds with new planting soil: Before planting new crops, fall gardeners must make sure to replenish beds with gardening soil and fertilizer. Because most of the nutrients that the two gardening necessities provide have been depleted by the spring crops, fall plants need to be provided additional fertilizer.
  • Harvest early and often: Once a plant begins to producing a crop, gardeners should harvest early and often. Frequent cutting and picking allows for new plant growth to begin. Also, fall crops can rot or die much quicker than summer crops, so look to pick ripened vegetables as soon as they are ready.
  • Shield plants from frost: Though some plants may like the chilly fall weather, not many enjoy the frost that often accompanies the cooler nights. Cover plants with blankets, while using straw or mulch to protect the soil directly above the plant roots.
  • Trans-plant crops that are meant for warmer weather: Not all plants can take to the weather changes that accompany the seasonal change. Remove delicate plants like herbs from garden bed and re-plant them in the appropriate style pot. Protect the plants by keeping them in a heated porch or in a well-lit basement.
  • Keep up on garden maintenance: Rid garden of any and all finished and dead plants. These will only hinder the growth of new crops. Also make sure to collect any fallen or rotten fruits or vegetables from the ground. This is to ensure insects and animals don’t take over the garden. Continue to lay mulch throughout the season to protect plant roots from the frost. Keep beds clean of weeds and many fall crops will continue to grow even after the first frost.

Sam is a correspondent for the Gazette.
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