4 Reasons Why Growing a Fall Garden is So Easy

vegetable harvest from growing a fall garden

Let’s commiserate about all of the frustrations of summer gardening for a minute.

  1. sneaky insects like cabbageworms, squash bugs, and slugs attack our vegetable plants, sometimes killing them completely
  2. sneaky insects attack us! Hello, mosquitoes.
  3. summer is high time for plant diseases like downy mildew on basil and blight on tomatoes
  4. drought, heavy rainfall, or summer hail storms conspire to stress out our plants
  5. hot weather and humidity sometimes makes working in the garden too big of a chore to tackle
  6. weeds loom so tall that the neighbor kid mysteriously disappeared in them a few days ago

There’s no doubt about it – gardening in summer is difficult.

And don’t even think for even one minute that you’re the only gardener struggling with these frustrating issues during the height of the gardening season.

In fact, let me show you two depressing photos that pretty much sum up my summer garden so far.

(Don’t be fooled by all of the pretty photos of my garden on this blog – things go wrong in my garden all of the time!)

pepper disease with tips for growing a fall garden

This first one is what 30 of my 45 peppers plants looked like a week ago. They were shedding leaves like crazy and hardly had any fruit on them. After frantically doing some research online I discovered they most likely had bacterial speck, and the advice offered was to get rid of them immediately.

A few nights later I pleaded with my husband to come out to the garden with me and assist in ripping out all of the pepper plants in two garden beds and throwing them into our trash bin so I didn’t have to face this heartbreak alone.

Ouch, it hurts just writing that.

bean trellis with tips for growing a fall garden

pole bean damage and tips for growing a fall garden

These second two photos are of Japanese beetles devouring the pretty pole bean trellis I built this spring. Everywhere I look there are copulating beetles covering the vines. It’s like a crazy garden sex party.

But, don’t worry, just below the trellis is a bucket full of water where I cast them to their deaths. (Sorry to be so frank, but it’s true.)

Summer is the season we anxiously wait for as gardeners, but it’s often filled with disappointment and heartache. See pepper story above as evidence.

So, it’s no wonder that at the end of the summer, we feel exhausted. We start to feel like it’s time to pack the gardening gloves away and call it a season.

But, if you quit now, you’re going to miss out on one of the best, and underutilized, seasons in the garden – the fall season. It just might be my favorite time in the garden.

Why? Well, it’s way easier to grow a fall garden than a summer one.

Imagine putting in much less effort for big harvests that carry you through to Thanksgiving, and maybe even until Christmas.

If you’ve never experienced the joys gardening in this season, here are the reasons why you should consider growing a fall garden this year.

growing a fall garden and harvesting carrots

Harvesting carrots from my fall garden on October 22.

4 Reasons Why Growing a Fall Garden is So Easy

Less insect and disease pressure.

As we talked about above, summer is a rough time for garden pests and diseases. It’s the peak of the year for both, and the list of what will probably attack our plants is a mile long.

Insects like:
Cucumber beetles
Squash bugs
Japanese beetles
Colorado Potato beetles
Cabbage worms
Leaf miners
Tomato hornworms

insect pests in fall garden

My jar full of thwarted Japanese beetles. 

And diseases like:
Tomato blights
Downy mildew
Bacterial spot
Bacterial wilt

It’s likely we’ll lose at least one crop in the battle.

But, in the fall we’re on the downside of that peak. Many insects are at the end of their life cycles and heading into hibernation.

Insect and disease pressure fades away and we’re left with a lot less stress and vegetables that aren’t struggling to stay alive.

The relief from the constant pressure and threat of failures feels wonderful.

Weed growth slows down.

During the summer, doesn’t it seem like the weeds are growing before your very eyes? If you blink, or even worse, go away for the weekend, it feels like the weeds will swallow up your garden whole.

The good news about fall is that plant growth starts to slow down as the days get shorter, which means weeds aren’t nearly the headache they can be in summer.

You’ll spend a heck of a lot less time on weeding chores in fall, and way more time joyfully collecting the harvest.

growing a fall garden with cilantro

Cilantro looking pretty happy on September 26.

Some vegetables are easier to grow in fall.

Do you struggle with getting a consistent supply of cilantro in summer because it keeps bolting? Did you plant spinach in spring but only got one or two harvests before the weather turned hot and it also bolted.

Me, too!

A lot of the vegetables we love planting in spring and early summer often struggle in the increasing heat and day length of summer. They just don’t like it.

But, when the cooler and shorter days of fall roll around, these plants thrive. I have a way easier time growing cilantro, arugula, mustards, lettuces, and spinach in fall than I do in spring and summer.

And, my harvests are longer and more abundant at this time of year.

More pleasant days to work in the garden.

Let’s face it, even though we may love many parts of summer, working in the garden when it’s 90 degrees F with 85% humidity and mosquitoes buzzing in our ears isn’t exactly the vision we hold when we’re daydreaming over seed catalogs in January.

Gardening in the summer can be hot, sticky, and feel like drudgery. In contrast, on a clear and bright fall day with the sun shining and a light breeze blowing there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in my garden.

Fall is, literally, a breath of fresh air where I feel renewed energy and excitement to be outside soaking up the garden before the long, cold winter of Wisconsin sets in.

harvesting salad mix from growing a fall garden

Salad mix and arugula harvest on October 31.

So, if this summer has left you feeling like your garden has been a failure so far, or gardening isn’t worth all the time and money you’ve invested in it, or you’re frustrated with the lack of food you’ve harvested, don’t give up on the season just yet!

Take a moment to collect yourself and tap into that feeling of excitement you had when the season first started way back in spring. Planting a fall garden can help you reclaim that enthusiasm and end the season on a high note.

Instead of struggling against the summer gardening challenges, you can instead be setting yourself up to harvest colorful fall vegetables to share with family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Growing a fall garden can be so easy, but the window for planting is a very short one. I plant the majority of my fall vegetables in zone 5 during the last two weeks in August.

You’ll need to carve out a little time for planting during this month. If you do, you’ll be reaping the rewards of fresh food right outside your door until well into fall and early winter.

Here are some ways I can help you grow a fall garden successfully.


Additional Resources for Growing a Fall Garden

FREE MINI-COURSE: Introduction to Extending Your Harvests with a Fall Garden. This mini-course features 5 videos and worksheets to help you:

  • Learn why growing a fall garden is SO easy!
  • Find out my recommendations for the best 5 veggies to start with
  • Get excited about what’s possible with a fall garden when I give you a tour of all of the vegetables I harvest for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Discover how to find room in your garden for fall plantings + the best varieties to grow
  • Create a sample fall planting calendar to get you started

Start watching right now!

MASTERCLASS: Harvesting Fresh Veggies in the Snow. The key to having more fresh food right outside your door for more months of the year is to extend your garden season. And if you do it right, you can be harvesting delicious veggies for up to 10 months of the year, even if you live in a northern climate!

I live in Wisconsin, zone 5a, and every year I harvest food from my garden during most months of the year -without a heated greenhouse or any other expensive additions to my garden. In 25 different videos and accompanying worksheets, checklists, and calendars, I distill my years of trial and error down to just the essentials you need to know to help you plant and harvest from a robust cold weather garden.

Join the Masterclass now.

BLOG ARTICLES: Read more about how to have an awesome fall garden in these posts.






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