Although planting a spring garden tends to be more popular amongst gardeners across the country, fall is our favorite time to plant a backyard garden. We quickly get tired of the intense summer temperatures down here in south Georgia, and we’re always looking forward to the time when those temperatures break in September. As fall approaches, we start thinking about all the things that we can plant now that temperatures have once again cooled a bit.
Here in zone 8b we’re fortunate to have a long growing season. But we can’t grow much from the middle of July through the end of August because the temperatures and humidity are so intense. September and October weather provides an opportunity to plant another round of warm season vegetables before the winter temperatures arrive. We find that our pest and disease pressure is much less in the fall as opposed to the spring, which also makes fall gardening more enjoyable.
There are many things you can plant in a fall garden depending on where you live. If you live in a warmer growing zone, you can basically replicate everything you planted in the spring garden. If you live in the cooler growing zone, you may want to restrict your fall gardening to cool season vegetables. In this blog I’ll discuss all the warm season vegetables (and flowers) that we like to plant in the fall garden. We’ll cover the cool season fall garden on the next blog, so stay tuned for that!
The most important thing to know here is your average first frost date for your area. You can find that easily through an online search. Once you know that date, you can look at the maturity date for certain varieties of vegetables and determine when you should plant them. If you time the planting right and feed them well with AgroThrive, you’ll be rewarded with bountiful harvests! Below is a list of the warm season vegetables (and flowers) that we like to plant for a fall garden:
Squash and zucchini are great for a fall garden because they start producing fruits so quickly. Many varieties will start producing squash just 50 days from planting in ideal soil conditions. They may not produce quite as much as the spring squash due to the days getting shorter, but you can still enjoy delicious, fresh squash from the backyard garden well into the fall months.
Much like squash, cucumbers are another fast-maturing vegetable that only needs approximately 50 days to start producing fruit. Cucumbers traditionally perform best when they’re trellised or given something to climb, but you can grow small pickling varieties along the ground like watermelons. Cucumber plants will tend to provide peak production approximately 70 days after planting, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time before the average first frost date in your area.
The fall garden is great for green beans or lima beans. Green bean plants usually start producing in 55-60 days after planting, which makes them an easy fall vegetable for a majority of the country. Lima beans will take closer to 75 days, so give yourself more time if growing those in the fall. We specifically like to grow climbing lima beans in the fall and really like a variety called “King of Garden Lima.”
Believe it or not, you can grow sweet corn in the fall. I’d recommend choosing one of the “supersweet” varieties that tend to have a maturity date around 70 days. This will make sure you have time to let the ears get nice and full before your first frost arrives. We don’t grow fall sweet corn every year, but having fresh corn on the cob in late October or early November is quite the treat!
If you search online about growing potatoes in the fall, you won’t find much. But it can be done! The only caveat here is that you have to save some potatoes from your spring harvest. Seed potato suppliers usually don’t have potatoes available in late summer, so you’ll have to use your own. If we have potatoes leftover from our spring harvest and they’re forming sprouts, we’ll plant them! We usually aim for a late August planting here in south Georgia. Find the average first frost date for your area and count back 90-100 days. That will tell you when you should plant fall potatoes.
These not only add beauty to the fall garden, but they’ll keep all your bees and beneficial insects happy as well! There are many different sunflower varieties on the market with a wide range of colors and sizes. We like to choose the darker orange and red varieties for fall. One of our favorites is a variety called “Chocolate Cherry.”
Lots of beneficial insects like zinnias, but butterflies love them! Zinnias are one of the easiest flowers to grow to keep the “good guys” around your vegetable garden in the fall months. They also have long stems which makes them ideal for harvesting and making your own homegrown bouquet for the kitchen counter.
Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hotsauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.