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I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
Did you know that fall is secretly one of the most wonderful gardening seasons? As we move into fall and the air starts feeling colder, you might be thinking that gardening season is well over. But good news, plant friends! Fall is an amazing time to extend your growing season and plant a different variety of edible plants. To guide us through this underrated gardening season, Joe Lamp’l of Joe Gardener joins me in a conversation and shares basic knowledge and tips for successful fall gardening.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover's Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
While spring and summer gardens are usually about keeping up with the harvests, pests, diseases and other garden woes, fall gardening is more about letting your plants take their time and enjoying your time in the garden.
With fall gardens, there is little to none of the overwhelm and sense of urgency that usually accompanies other gardening seasons, so you can enjoy crisp mornings and evenings checking on your crops and watching them grow little by little.
For those of us who didn’t have the best experience with our spring and summer gardens, fall gardening also presents an opportunity to mentally reset and renew our passion for gardening and apply the lessons we’ve learned over the past growing seasons.
Cool season plants, or fall crops, can actually be planted in warmer weather, so you can start planting them as early as late July to early August.
When you plant them around that time, they will start to establish and grow roots before the days start getting shorter, which is when they like to mature.
You might want to avoid exposing your plants to frost as much as possible, but science – and Joe – says that plants actually taste sweeter after a frost. This is due to the starches in your plants turning into sugar to adapt to colder temperatures – essentially increasing the taste and sweetness of your favorite crops!
Fall gardening is not that different from summer gardening when it comes to the plants you should have: grow what you like to eat!
Lettuce is a great fall crop and yields an abundance of crisp green leaves throughout the cold season. Sprinkle the lettuce seeds on top of soil and leave the soils exposed to the sun, as lettuces are photoblastic and require light to germinate. Once the lettuce has grown a head, enjoy fresh salad every time you harvest – cut the entire head off the ground or take off a few leaves for unlimited organic greens!
Note: Leafy vegetables like lettuce can grow even with partial or indirect sun.
Carrots are easy root crops to grow during the cool weather. According to Joe, you only need to be patient with its germination and you’re almost good to go. Make sure to keep the seeds moist and cool and remove all possible obstructions in the soil so they can grow beautifully. Grow bags are a good medium to plant these crops in!
Beets are another crop that do not demand a lot of TLC in the fall. Planting beets can be as easy as sowing them directly into the ground and ensuring that the soil remains moist throughout germination. Enjoy double the abundance with beets and beet greens!
You can start planting garlic in late fall, usually around November before it gets really cold since the top growth is resilient to cold. Garlic starts to establish during fall and bulb up in spring, but you can use the garlic scapes for pesto or as garlic substitute while you are still waiting for the actual garlic bulb! Cutting the garlic scapes helps reroute the energy back into the bulbs.
Kale is just one of those plants that you can use in anything, even as an ornament because it is so beautiful and hardy. Kale can withstand cold temperatures and can live through the snow, making it a constant source of greens in your garden! Make sure you leave enough space between the seeds as these vegetables can grow really big.
Note: Kale tastes sweeter after a frost!
Other plants to consider
Joe believes that to be the most confident gardeners we can be, we must think like a plant: a concept he calls planthrophormizing. Like Joe’s catchphrase, ‘the why do behind the how to’, we must learn about the science and the factors behind growing a plant in order to grow a plant. When we figure out the different aspects that contribute to the growth of our plants and become more intuitive with our decisions, that’s what makes us smarter and better gardeners!
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