Written By: Troy Brooks
I always say that Gardening is a VITAL prepping skill. Many people think it’s as easy as dropping seeds in the ground and watch them grow, it’s not that simple, right? In a long term situation most if not all of your initial food preps will be exhausted at some point. In fact, I am one of those who believe that the food items that you prep in a “long term” situation, are there to get you by until your garden is fully functional and you and your family can survive eating from it. When this happens then your Garden is one of your “long term” food sources. Remember, most people will eventually run out of their stored food, so you’ll need a solid plan for creating a sustainable food supply!
Fall Gardening is a skill that must be developed and enhanced if you are going to survive in a “long term” situation. It goes without saying that you will still need nutrition that will get you through fall, winter and into late spring. The Fall season is a wonderful time to further enhance your garden and Gardening survival skills.
I’m going to assume that you’ve done the initial work in terms of soil prepping for your garden area and/or raised beds. This should have already been accomplished because you’ve most likely been gardening sometime from March to October. Now is the time to further use those soil preps and get your fall crops into the ground. Many of the fall veggies I’ll be discussing will even grow well into winter if you have a greenhouse or cold frame. Once you get the experience you’ll be able to grow certain cold-hardy vegetables successfully endlessly through all seasons.
What You Can Grow In The Fall: Cold-Weather Vegetables
This is the reason why our heirloom Seeds packages contain many cold-weather vegetables, specially designed to assist you in having a full fledged or survival garden all year long. You can have an abundance of leafy garden greens as well as plenty of cold-weather vegetables that will produce good wholesome food for you and your family during the cold-weather season. Just think about it, you can grow veggies like spinach, artichokes, beet, radishes, carrots, kale, onions, garlic and more. All of these vegetables will make delicious soups, both cold and hot. When planted right, you might be able to even get certain plant varieties to grow from Spring to Spring.
Tip: One thing that you will learn is that Fall temperatures are conducive to certain cold-weather vegetables, their production and often aids in sweetening many of cold-weather plant varieties such as our Kuroda carrot, spinach and others.
Timing Is Everything: Knowing When to Plant Your Fall Garden Is Crucial
I’m writing this article in late October 2013 and for the most part of the USA it’s still a good time to start that fall garden. When it starts to get cooler, you can easily get your some veggies like garlic, our Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions and shallots. Your Fall Garden will benefit if you can get them into the ground BEFORE your first frost. If you have access to a computer, try to find out when the “first frost” is due in your planting zone.
Here is what I recommend:
Trying getting an early start or a jump on your “Fall Garden” by planting your heirloom seeds such as kale, our Brunswick Cabbage, cauliflower and Calabrese Green Broccoli indoors and then later transplant them. Make sure you acclimate them a few hours a day before actually putting them out in the garden for planting.
Companion gardening can play a supporting role in your Fall Garden productions. It will add value to it because you can even plant some of these varieties together so that nitrogen producing plants will mix with those that had deprived your soil of nitrogen during the spring planting season. Make sure you feed the soil of your fall plants this means adding compost and using organic materials in your soil. You want to apply the appropriate amount of organic fertilizer a few weeks ahead of your fall planting season. Don’t let your fall garden area dry out. A drip watering system or soaker hose will solve this problem. Your seeds and/or transplants will need moister for both germinating and growing. Once your transplants and/or seeding are about a few inches in height you might want to think about adding mulch.
You can increase plant production by tricking your produce into generating more produce. This works with leafy vegetables like turnips, spinach, kale, lettuce etc. We often feed our livestock the leafy parts of beets, radishes, and carrots. Another trick with broccoli and cabbage is that you can actually pick the first head and then wait for the plant to generate smaller ones later. Our heirloom favorite for broccoli is our Calabrese Green Broccoli. It’s an heirloom dating back to the early 1900’s.
You can extend your garden season with a few techniques:
- Cover the plants that are more sensitive to frost and cold weather at night with row covers or even old blankets. Mulching will also help in this area . If you don’t have old blankets or how about tarps or even plastic? Cover growing beds or rows with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants. Individual plants can be protected by using milk jugs, paper caps, or water-holding walls.
- Cold Frames & Greenhouses: It has been suggested that providing plants with just one additional layer of protection is like moving your garden more than one full zone to the south. There are many types of survival greenhouses and you’ll have to choose which one is best suited for your situation.
Most of the semi-hardy and hardy vegetables will require little or no frost protection. Semi-hardy vegetables should be harvested before a heavy freeze. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. The harvest of mulched root crops can often be extended into the winter. During mild winters, harvest may continue till spring.
Insects and Diseases
It is not uncommon for insects and diseases to be more abundant in the fall. Most problems from insects and diseases result from a buildup in their populations during the spring and summer. There is hope of keeping these pests at tolerable levels, however, if a few strategies are followed. Strive to keep fall vegetables healthy and actively growing; healthy plants are less susceptible to insects and diseases. Check the plants frequently for insect and disease damage and apply treatment for controlling or eradicating diseases.
Here are a few seed recommendations (some of which we actually carry) that don’t mind chilly temperatures. Why don’t you get them a try and let me know how they turnout in your Fall Garden.
Various Greens Leafy Vegetables
Mustard, Turnip, Collards, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Radicchio and Lettuce.
Herbs & Vegetables
*Sugar Snap Peas, *Calabrese Green Broccoli, *White Hailstone Radishes, artichokes, *Brunswick Cabbage, Cauliflower, Garlic, *Yellow Sweet Spanish Onions, Leeks, Beets,* Kuroda Carrots, Watercress, Cilantro, Garlic, Parsnips, Potatoes, Scallions, Shallots and Turnips.
*Specific Heirloom Seeds available from the Author’s website.
About The Author
Troy Brooks Managing Director for http://www.MyHeirloomSeeds.com Heirloom Seed Company. He together with his family have been homesteading, raising livestock and living Off-Grid on their Ranch in West Texas. He is also a Certified Master Herbalist and enjoying living a Self-Sufficient lifestyle. Connect with him at: Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/myheirloomseeds or Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/myheirloomseeds