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Designing A Fall Garden..

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Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/27/2011, 9:25 pm

Here is sort of the teaser. I worked up a decent fall garden design. You will notice no snap peas, though. The reason is they will take the place of a couple of tomatoes that aren't doing too well and utilize the 8' trellis.

I am loading up on our three favorite veggies to get us through as much of the early winter as we can...remembering plants don't grow in cold weather, they basically survive. So, what you have when the cold hits is about what you have. I can use the hoops to keep things warmer throughout daytimes, but nighttimes and cloudy days are my worry.

It may look like overkill, but when planning a fall garden designed to get as far into winter as you can, you need to be thinking about your last days of gardening from the very beginning. I've been reading to load up on things you want in the end. If you do things right, some will be ready for another go around by the time you get back to them....if you just give them LOTS of time between harvests.

I tossed some potatoes in there, too. We'll see how they take.

My 4x12 is in shambles right now....disarray looks organized compared to mine. I will get some things started soon with lettuces and some beans and some other things. But, here is what I want the final product to look like around Halloween...

Since things are not expanding so well, I will describe a bit to you. Starting from the left, you will see 2 squares of cauliflower, underneath 2 squares of radishes. Moving right, broccoli. Then, alternating rows of carrots, leaf lettuces, and spinach. I have mulitple varieties, but I don't know that I will use them all. On the far right, I have potatoes.

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Re: Designing Your Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/28/2011, 9:57 am

Well, since this is the time of year for you northerners to start thinking of fall, I thought I'd jump in with my ideas, too. Timing is pretty critical. If you read Mel's book, and I hope you all have, you will pick up on the idea that there are 3 seasons per square. That's a bit of a misnomer, though, because there are really only 2...spring, summer, and what's left before frost.

It's this transition in seasons that really gets us. Spring is easy. When your frost date passes, or you feel like you are ready to gamble, you stick stuff in the ground and start complaining about the weather until the weeds and bugs start diverting your attention to them. Then, once the weather starts to heat up, the transition begins to summer gardening. We often save squares for tomatoes or peppers or squash, but we often we also wait for spinaches to bolt before we put our beans in the ground. This is where the confusion starts. We start having to think about spring and summer at the same time.

This only continues once we have summer finally swinging....and we start getting lazy....now, fall starts sneaking up on us if we want to get some more cool season stuff back in the ground. And, usually, summer hasn't even brought in it's hottest weather yet. So, we need an attack plan. Our best solution is "succession" planting.

The heat will get some plants. It always does. So, we need to be prepared for this inevitability. But, to succession plant well, we need a design. We need a mental picture of what will go in what square. That should help most of us stay the course.

Above, I have my "plan" in place. But, my garden looks nowhere near this. It was randomly planted this spring and summer stuff was put in as squares became available. There are even a good many squares lying fallow because I pulled out broccoli, etc, and never planted anything in their places.




My other "plan" is to transition my garden over to a fall design. And, I want you guys to watch. There are a lot of "rookies" on board this year, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed questions about fall gardens starting to pop up. I figure this can help us all. So, right now, you see my plan/design and you see my starting point. I will try and describe what I do as I do it and help with pictures. Hopefully, this will ease any stress and answer some questions. Really the intimidation, if there is any, is from lack of knowledge and not wanting to make a mistake. Remember, though, it's YOUR garden. It's YOUR hobby. I plan to show you, through some mistakes of my own, that you can't mess it up. We just need to get to doing right away!

I ran a quick search for frost dates in our region this morning. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is fairly north in our region. Their fall frost date is September 29th! They have a 10% chance of seeing a frost as early as the 17th. That's getting on us pretty quick. For fall plantings, we need to think about 8-10 weeks ahead. Like I said above, we need to start with the end in mind. 8 weeks ahead of Sept 29th is pretty much August 1st. And, 12 weeks (broccoli and cauliflower) is July 1st. So, we need to get moving with plans.

Summer stuff will be finishing up, and we can always pull those as we need to later. For now, obviously let those keep growing. The summer gardens don't need to be pulled for fall plans. Fall is your third priority behind spring and summer. It's the "leftovers," and there is plenty of time to get back to spinaches and lettuces. Keep some bean or chard seeds in your hip pockets because those mature fairly quickly and can fill some dead space in the summer if you need them to.

I hope this makes sense, and I hope it helps a lot of you as you watch me start to transition. Any questions are welcome because that's how we all learn together. And, feel free to start your own transition thread.....if you dare. (Oooh, a little Halloween preview there?)

Happy Gardening!

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  jbh29 on 6/28/2011, 2:14 pm

I like seeing this thread, BBG. It is something I'm trying to do this year too. I like your printed plan... where did you put that together? Something online or that you've made on your own?

I've looked at the charts in the book about how and when to seed fall crops. I've just planted carrots that sprouted in vermiculite. I've put broccoli seeds in verm too but only 3 have sprouted so far - I think I have to try again, but i hope to have a fall crop of broccoli, carrots and of course lettuces and spinach which I'm continuing to plant every few weeks or so as sqares become available (first planting of spinach & lettuce bolted and ripped out). Peas are almost done so those will come out soon and Brocoli will replace - if I can get more sprouted.

I actually ran out of space in my beds so I mixed up some mm the other day and filled several extra pots I had laying around. I planted lettuce in 6 or 7 of them. My thought is that I can move those to a shady spot once our summer finally kicks in. Rolling Eyes I also put the sprouted carrots in a few pots to try that. I got a bit desperate with no squares available. But the pots are about 8 inches deep. Deeper than my beds are so they should be fine.

Something I am thinking for next year is to use only 2 of my 4 beds for tomatoes and climbers because as things are now, I will have to rip out some toms and squashes before I can put up my hoop houses this fall. I may be able to cover them for the first few frosts and lengthen the season for them, I'm not sure yet.

I can say for sure that I didn't plant this spring with a fall crop in mind!

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  MasonGarden on 6/28/2011, 2:25 pm

Very helpful BBG! Thanks for taking the time to pull this together and to share with us. Great ideas and just what I needed to get jump started for the fall.
you rock

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  walshevak on 6/28/2011, 3:51 pm

I'm going to have to get creative this year to have anything in the fall and early winter. First of all, I don't get back home until mid Sep. My frost date is early Nov and my 10 hrs of daylight is mid Dec. The kids gave me a 5x5 x6 plastic greenhouse for Mother's Day. With all this in mind, I hope to build and plant 1 2x4 box and 1 1x4 box by Sep 19 with lettuce, chard, collards, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and dwarf snap peas. As the weather starts to cool off, I'll put the greenhouse over these beds. One thing, my area tends to not get a killing freeze until late Nov and I though I could also put low hoops with plastic covers over the beds inside the greenhouse and maybe extend things until then. I also plan to set the beds over the septic tank and hope it's true that it creates heat. Snow always melts first over the tank. Smile IF the determinate tomato I planted from seed a few days before I left home actually spouted, I hopefully will have some late tomatos and can move it into the greenhouse for a week or two extension. And I may be able to snag a pot of peppers from my son.

One of the outside existing beds will get onions and garlic. The rest will be covered with plastic to protect the MM from winter rains and left for spring.

Anybody got any other suggestions?

Kay, broadcasting from Vienna

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/28/2011, 5:46 pm

jbh, here is a link to the free planner. I take screenshots (prt sc on my keyboard) and copy into the paint program on the computer. I save it to my computer as a .jpeg and post it up. There is also a save feature on their site.

http://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/Page-KGPJS

Well, that takes you to my current plan. But, anyway, play around with it. You may have to click the link more than once. It keeps taking me to their homepage first.

Oh, and what I meant by starting with the end in mind is starting your fall planting with the end of fall in mind. I doubt I will ever start thinking about fall in March. Wink

walshevak, I will try and get a little more into hoops as I go. I definitely incorporate them into season extension. As time draws near, I will also do a couple topics in that area.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  jbh29 on 6/28/2011, 8:53 pm

BBG, that is a fun site to create a garden plan. I'll look forward to playing with it a bit more.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  CindiLou on 6/28/2011, 10:45 pm

I really like the "Little House in the Suburbs" fall planner. It is an easy way to think backwards from the first frost date!

If it doesn't have a cool weather plant that you want then you could plant according to a comparable plant I would think!


http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/01/free-printable-o-rama-herbs-fall-and.html

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/28/2011, 11:20 pm

I'm struggling with what spaces are going to open up for fall planting. I have the following planted now:

12 tomatoes
10 peppers
3 marigolds
2 zucchini
4 sweet potatoes
3 beets
4 carrots
2 green onions
1 basil
1 thyme
1 chives
1 cilantro
9 strawberries (in a 4x4 square with onions)

The beets, carrots and green onions should be ready soon, so I should be able to harvest those to free up 9 squares, but won't all the rest be growing/producing well into the fall?

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  camprn on 6/28/2011, 11:28 pm

@Hyzleyes wrote:I'm struggling with what spaces are going to open up for fall planting.
The beets, carrots and green onions should be ready soon, so I should be able to harvest those to free up 9 squares, but won't all the rest be growing/producing well into the fall?
You are correct in that the rest are mostly summer crops and will not survive a frost, so if you want plan on some vegetables that can tolerate some cooler and cold (frost hardy) weather, those are the ones to plant. In your climate they may not get big, but you could have baby spinach, start some onions, sow carrots and plant garlic for next summer, things of that nature. If you time it right, you may be able to get another crop of peas & radishes. If you sow seeds for broccoli and kale in august and transplant after you pull out the peppers and tomatoes, those will grow until they freeze. The kale may even winter over. The thyme and chives should survive the winter and grow again next year.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/28/2011, 11:44 pm

Agreed with Camp on this one.

Hzleyes, if you really want some plants that will make it past the first frost, you may need to sacrifice some marigolds or something else you wouldn't mind letting go of. Just because a plant will produce until frost doesn't mean we need to leave it in. I don't like killing unnecessarily, but if I want spinach or kale, but have no room, I'll create room eventually. It's your garden, it's your choice.

If you want to keep rolling with what you have, then by all means do so. It's not a big deal either way.

I will add one thing to Camp's comment. To get another crop of peas, etc, you will need the weather to cooperate. And, there's no guarantee in that. If you get a slow start to fall or an early start to winter, it can ruin the best laid plans. Part of gardening as intense as SFG is lucky timing, too. This leads to another plus for succession planting. Just like we do in the spring and summer, succession planting can help reduce the bad luck of bad weather.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/29/2011, 8:50 pm

Thank you! That gives me some ideas. I didn't try any spinach this spring, so I'd love to try it this fall. Same with broccoli & kale. How long/late do tomatoes and peppers usually produce? They're my main priority as I'd like to freeze enough to last through the year. The marigolds I can definitely do without or I can move them to pots. Just have them in there to keep bugs away.

I'm just reading that onions usually mature in mid-summer. That will free up quite a few squares in the strawberry box since they're shading it out pretty well now.

I was hoping my carrots and beets were getting ready since the expected time to maturity from the seed packet has already passed, but I think they need a little longer. My carrot tops (Danvers Half Long) in the first square planted are 20" tall, but the baby carrot I pulled was only 2" and very thin. I was barely able to peel it, but DH & I each had a bite. Pretty tasty. The beet (Detroit Dark Red, Medium Top) that I pulled has some nice looking greens, but was tiny. It cooked in the microwave in 10 seconds! Lol! Tasted pretty good too, but definitely needs to be bigger to be worth the work. So... I'm thinking those squares won't be freed up for a few weeks. Any thoughts?

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/29/2011, 9:26 pm

@Hyzleyes wrote: How long/late do tomatoes and peppers usually produce? They're my main priority as I'd like to freeze enough to last through the year.

They should continue to frost from all I've read. But, I haven't done peppers before. And, with the darned dog, won't gain much experience this year, either. As for tomatoes: Determinate types produce once and stop. Indeterminates (the kind that vine) keep going until frost stops them.

@Hyzleyes wrote:I was hoping my carrots and beets were getting ready since the expected time to maturity from the seed packet has already passed, but I think they need a little longer. ..... So... I'm thinking those squares won't be freed up for a few weeks. Any thoughts?

Carrots are notorious for maturing much slower than the packet says. Give them time. Sometimes LOTS of time. They will do their thing. But, if you need/want the squares, take them. I eat baby carrots for this reason all the time. 2 and 3 inch carrots are an awesome snack. I had 5 last night alone.

Thoughts would be to do what you want when you want. Go to a planning site that lets you play graphically, like already linked above. Put in your existing plants you don't want to touch for now, and start playing with the empties. That will give you some idea of what you want to get started soon. Then, when the other stuff becomes available, you go back to that planner and play around again.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  JustMe on 7/2/2011, 2:47 pm

Thanks to the links for the visual garden planner and for the Fall Garden Planner. This is my first year taking my SFG into the fall, and my spring planning left a lot to be desired.

For instance, the swiss chard and the brussel sprout squares are shading out the square in between them b/c I didn't know how these plants grew. But I'm thinking to try planting lettuce in there since it's now shaded.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/2/2011, 6:14 pm

Just Me, there is never any replacement for experience. Some things we just have to figure out on our own. For me, this spring, I planted broccoli and cauliflower in the middle squares...thinking they would get taller and easier to reach. I should have just put them on the sides or on the north. I don't mind the shade now, but the broccoli is long gone from my garden. I just put a pin in it and remember for next year's plans.

We'll get revved up again on this topic after the holiday weekend as far as new posts go. But, I'm excited to get things rearranged for fall as soon as feasible. Granted, it's amazing to think about fall/cool season veggies when it's 97.7° outside in the shade!

This weekend, I also get the rest of my lettuces out because I am going to dessimate those squares with a weekend harvest (and show off session) during the party we plan to throw on Monday. Guests will ask. I will show. I will harvest so much flipping lettuce they will quickly understand why I have been saying I haven't seen a produce aisle since Tax Day.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  herblover on 7/3/2011, 2:01 pm

I will have 6 squares available for fall crops at least; maybe two or three more depending on how the beans, kale and carrots do. I am planning on doing fall plantings of salad greens, peas and radishes as well as doing a fall planting of garlic. My spring planting will be harvested by the end the month.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  Denese on 7/4/2011, 3:03 pm

BBG, this is all your fault! Laughing I got started, planning and designing and just couldn't stop!! I now have my entire garden area drawn and planned all the way into next spring and summer! Of course, a lady has the option of changing her mind. Rolling Eyes


This is the design of my garden area as of right now:

http://gardenplanner.motherearthnews.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=179757

This is what I'd like to accomplish for the fall:

http://gardenplanner.motherearthnews.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=179761

This is my dream for next Spring/Summer

http://gardenplanner.motherearthnews.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=179712

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/4/2011, 3:16 pm

Well, of course she does! Glad I could contribute to your delinquency/obsession. Smile

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  FarmerValerie on 7/5/2011, 9:02 am

@CindiLou wrote:I really like the "Little House in the Suburbs" fall planner. It is an easy way to think backwards from the first frost date!

If it doesn't have a cool weather plant that you want then you could plant according to a comparable plant I would think!


]

I'm with CindiLou on this one, I use that fall planner too, and according to it I'm still at least 20 weeks away from our first frost, usually happens after Thanksgiving Day, but can happen in mid November. I remember one Thanksgiving Day where we started out with the windows and doors open, and had to turn the air on. For newbies that are nervous and want a printed plan you can start here.
[url=http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/06/free-garden-plan-fall-garden.html]http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/06/free-garden-plan-fall-garden.html

I love your post BBG, great job giving tips on getting started, I'm sure I'll be refering to this when I recover from the Holiday weekend and start a Fall Planning thread for the Lower South. I'll admit there have been a couple of times when I've been out in the garden and envied (just for a moment or two) those of you who have fall around the corner, we just entered July, which means "It's not August yet", which is when it gets HOT down here. We've had temps in the 100's for so long when it drops below 95 we wonder if snow is on the way.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/5/2011, 4:32 pm

...we just entered July, which means "It's not August yet", which is when it gets HOT down here. We've had temps in the 100's for so long when it drops below 95 we wonder if snow is on the way.

Which is why I bailed on my plans to move to Dallas or even Tulsa in my mid-20s. I love those areas, but the heat is just too much for me to enjoy. Back in those days, my primary focus was avoiding snow and still getting seasons. These days....lol....snow removal is 35% of my annual income....and I live in STL, not exactly "north."

Momma was right.........NEVER say never.

I plan to post again soon in here as I start to revamp the garden for fall. I have two rows of lettuce and carrots starting to pop up already. If I can get my beans out soon, I'll drop in the broccoli, cauliflower, and potatoes. THAT is when the fun starts.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/16/2011, 10:05 am

Quickie update on the fall planning. For me, it's on delay. The heat is crushing anything I put in the garden right now. I need to wait for the 100's to break first. I have a new found appreciation for Elliphant and those that have to shut down in summers down in the deep south.

I planted two rows of lettuce and carrots (one each) and nothing germinated. I thought it could be Murphy the Chipmunk, but it could also be the heat. Soil temps I have not checked, but anything in the upper 80s may be contributing.

I may need to start somethings indoors in vermiculite cups again to give them a couple weeks in the cool. Hopefully, the timing will get me past the worst of the heat. I will likely give this week a break and re-evaluate next weekend based on the extended forecast at that time.

I know those of you up north are getting heat, too, but I'm sure you will be fall gardening before me. I was hoping to get a jump on you, but it doesn't look like that will happen this summer. Sad

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 7/16/2011, 10:22 am

From an article in The Oregonian newspaper on planting spinach for a fall garden:
Seeds don't germinate well in warm soil. Soak seeds overnight, refrigerate for a few days, then plant as usual.”
The article goes on to suggest: “Choose fast-growing, vigorous varieties. . . Sow densely, two or three seeds per inch, from mid- to late July through mid-August in nitrogen-rich, humusy soil. Cover with fine potting soil. Scratch in a handful of blood meal after the seedlings come up, in about two weeks. Feed weekly with foliar sprays of organic supplements such as fish emulsion. Gradually thin seedlings to two or three inches apart once plants are growing fast and strong. Eventually, plants should be about six inches apart. Keep watered until rains return, and weed often.”

Don't know if the same chilling recommendation would work for things like beets, etc. Nonna

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 7/16/2011, 11:08 pm

I don't want to mislead anyone. I pretty much only refer to one book....Mel's. The others just complicate the heck out of things imo. I'm not adding bone meal just to get a seed off to a good start. I already have the best soil blend we know of. I'm just waiting for cooler temps.

The best way to combat heat and humidity for a fall garden is to just wait it out. We'll get our chance. If stuff won't germinate in hot soils (documented again by Mel in an appendix/chart), then it won't grow well, either. Carrots take 90+ days. I'm not going to push germination 3 weeks early just for the sake of trying to. Those experiments go fairly badly most times.

I can beat frosts. I can't beat freezes. I can beat summer. I can't beat oppressive heat warnings.

If I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (using climatology and the extended forecasts), I'll gamble. If not, I'll wait. Our average highs are 89 and 90 degress in mid-late July. I need to wait. No amount of water will help cool season seedlings. And, shade doesn't protect much in this humidity. When it's 98 in the shade, nothing helps spinach or broccoli.

My best bet is to start indoors and keep them in for a few weeks. Funny huh? When battling the extreme seasons of summer or winter, we need to know when the heat or cold breaks, respectively. And, even at that, it's a bit of a gamble.

I never knew summer and winter had something in common....lol.

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  madnicmom on 7/24/2011, 10:27 pm

Thank you for the reminder of the germination chart. I just looked at it and beans only have 39% germ rate in this awful weather. That would explain 2 of my boxes with little germination and the 3rd has great germination.

I'm currently messing around with your link for fall plant charting but like a "typical" woman.... I can't make my mind up! LOL I do know I need carrots and peas but with this weather, I'm not sure I will get the peas. Immature carrots are still ate in this house.

My "row gardening" dad is so impressed with my setup and I showed him hoop houses and told him I want to try it, he is getting me the materials, it helps he works at Lowe's. Very Happy

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Designing A Fall Garden..

Post  sherryeo on 7/24/2011, 10:39 pm

madnicmom, OOOoooohhh, employee discount at Lowe's! I'm green with envy!

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Re: Designing A Fall Garden..

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