Fall planting

Considering Fall Frost & What Plant Types Work Best

With the weather quickly changing if you haven’t planted your fall garden, its time to take the initiative and get it planted. Here is some information that will aid you in planting the fall garden that will be everything you hoped for.

When's Your First Expected Frost Date?

Frost

One of the first and most important aspects of planting your fall garden is to find out when your first expected frost date will be for your specific location. Finding out when your first fall frost date is can be simply acquired by visiting the link right here and typing in your zipcode: 

The dates given for the first frost date are only averages, but they will give us a good foundation for planning our fall garden. After we find out when our first average frost date will be we can being deciding what kinds of plants we will grow. For instance if we would like to grow kale we need to first check out the seed packet, or find out on the internet how many days kale will take before we can begin harvesting. After we find out that Lacinato Kale (my favorite variety of kale) will take 70-80 days to harvest from seed, we then need to count back from our first expected frost date 70-80 days to find out exactly when we should sow our kale.

Another important factor about understanding the effect of “frost” on your fall garden is realizing that their are there different varitations of frost. The first variation of frost is considered a “light freeze” which ranges in the temperatures of 29° to 32°, where tender plants such as tomatoes may be negatively effected and suffer as a result. The next variation of frost is called “moderate freeze” ranging in temperatures of 25° to 28°, which is widely destructive to most forms of vegetation, except for a number of your fall cold hardy varieties, like kale. The third and final variation of frost is called “Severe freeze” which ranges in temperatures 24° and colder, these temperatures tend to be detrimental to plants.

Understanding the different variations in frost is vitally important in helping us choose the correct time to plant, and also important in helping us choose what particular kinds of vegetables we should plant for our fall garden.

What Should I Plant In My Fall Garden?

Since we now know when to start our fall garden, and the effect of frost on our plants, we can start to consider what kinds of vegetables to plant in our fall garden. Seeing how frost will negatively effect and kill of our tender plants first, we need to focus on planting vegetables that are considered “cold hardy”, this simply means that they are more prone to dealing with colder temperatures.

Brassicas

Brassicas

Brassicas are one of the best genus of vegetables to plant in your fall garden. The genus brassica extends to many members of the mustard family including:

  1. Kale
  2. Cabbage​
  3. Broccoli​
  4. Turnips.​

All plants in the genus brassica are known to be cold hardy and should be staples in your fall garden.

Root Vegetables

root vegetables

Root vegetables are also a great addition to a fall garden because you can harvest them deep into the winter, even past your frost dates. Carrots are one of my favorite root vegetables to have in a fall garden for a number of reasons. Carrots are a hardy plant which leaves usually aren’t effected with a “light freeze” or even a “moderate freeze”, this is great because it means the carrots will continue to grow, although slower are cooler temperatures, usually until you get a few days consistently of a “moderate freeze” or a “severe freeze.”

One of the best reasons to grow carrots in the fall is because carrots actually get sweeter as the ground get colder. When the ground gets colder carrots actually begin to convert their starch storages to sugar which account for the sweeter flavor. Radishes are also a great fall crop to plant in your garden. One reason radishes are great to plant in a fall garden is because of the short “days to harvest’ factor. Radishes are ready to eat 4-6 weeks after you plant them which results in a fast, rewarding experience. Radishes are also cold hardy, and tend to get sweeter with the drop in temperatures just like carrots.

One important aspect to take into account when harvesting of root vegetables in your garden is to make sure you harvest the root vegetables before the ground begins to freeze. The ground will not typically freeze until the daytime temperature are consistently below freezing point, for me that is 32° F. If you see some frost on the ground when you wake up, then that is ok, but the best way to test if the ground is starting to freeze is to get your shovel out and see how hard it is for you to dig.

It is important to harvest your root veggies before the ground freeze or your veggies will freeze, and when they thaw they are no longer appetizing. Timing exactly when to harvest your root veggies for optimum sweetness, but early enough to not lose them is something that has to be learned by experience. I suggest harvesting your veggies daily as the frost begins to settle in, so you can identify exactly when they are sweet enough for you to eat, but early enough so don’t lose any to them being frozen.

Overall planting a fall garden is a fun and rewarding experience. Know your first frost date and which kinds of vegetables to plant are the most important factors to growing a successful fall garden. There are many others kinds of vegetables to plant in a fall garden, but I hope this was enough information for you to understand what kind of plants to grow and when to plant them, so you can grow your own successful and bountiful fall garden!

About the Author Joyce

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