Iowa gardeners are busy gathering their late summer harvest of fresh vegetables and it’ll soon be time to get ready to plant a fall garden. Gardening expert John Fech says many vegetables do very well in cooler weather and with less sunlight.
“Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale — they will do really well under the conditions in late October,” Fech says. “Plants like carrots can be extended even a little bit further than that. That’s why a fall garden works so well. Take advantage of those cool temperatures and even some light frost.”
The process is different from planting a spring garden and you’ll need to choose your seeds carefully.
“Look for ‘short to maturity’ crops,” he says. “This thing will be ready for harvest in two months rather than four months. You don’t have that much time. Another thing you can do to help get that expedited is to soak the seeds overnight before planting to enhance germination.” That soaking of the seeds may save you a full week’s time in getting the plants to grow.
To prepare your garden, first you’ll need to clear a spot and add a bit of compost, and when planting, be sure to give the seeds the proper spacing.
“Let’s say you’re growing carrots or growing lettuce, you don’t want one seedling every half inch,” Fech says. “You’d probably prefer one about every three inches. Simply remove the extra seedling. I know it’s hard to pull out a plant you just got to grow, but you have to do it, otherwise, you’re going to end up with too much competition.”
Vegetables from a fall garden will often have a sweet, milder flavor and he says some actually taste better after a light frost.