Though many of us are just now harvesting the first squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers of the season, it’s time to start planning our fall gardens. As the University of Illinois Extension explains:
[Another] planting will add more vegetables to your supply and make use of the full growing season. The fall garden requires less time and labor because the soil was already worked up in the spring. Many vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, are of higher quality when grown in the fall rather than during the mid-summer. Some vegetables, such as kale and Swiss chard, develop a better flavor after a frost, but they should be planted now.
Whether you were unable to do as much in the garden as you would’ve liked because of all the rain, or you’d simply like to squeeze in an extra harvest of some of your favorites or try some new varieties, now is the perfect opportunity!
Though tender, heat-long plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants aren’t ideal, you can grow many of your favorite crops for a fall harvest, including: beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, snap, peas, summer squash, lettuce, kohlrabi, mustard greens, turnips, and spring and winter radishes.
The suggested planting dates for beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, endive, snap beans and summer squash are July 24 to August 5. Plant kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, turnip, and winter radish from August 15 to 24. Plant leaf lettuce, mustard, spinach, spring radish can be seeded from mid-August to mid-September. As a general rule, you can check your seed packets for days to harvest, then count back from our the first frost date (October 15th).
That’s okay too! When your patch, bed, or plot is done for the year, simply clean up weeds and debris and sow a cover crop of rye, wheat, or annual ryegrass in order to smother out weeds and increase the organic matter content of the soil for the next growing season.