Advanced Gardening

Why Growing a Fall Garden is So Easy

vegetable harvest from growing a fall garden

Let’s commiserate about the frustrations of summer gardening for a minute. Sneaky insects attack us and our gardens, droughts and hail storms conspire to spoil our hard work, and the weeds loom so tall that the neighbor kid mysteriously disappeared in them a few days ago.

Gardening in summer is difficult.

And that’s exactly why gardening in fall is such a welcome breath of fresh air. Because it’s so easy compared to the trials and tribulations of the summer garden.

But first, don’t 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. 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.)

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 way 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.

5 Reasons You Should Prune Your Tomato Plants

tomatoes from garden

The gift of harvesting a juicy, ripe tomato straight from the garden is one of the reasons why many people have a garden in the first place. For many gardeners, the homegrown tomato is the perfect illustration of how the taste of the food we grow ourselves far surpasses anything we could buy at the grocery store.

The tomato is the symbol of what a summer garden harvest means to many of us.

And tomatoes are known for being one of the easiest vegetables to grow – plop them into the ground, slap a trellis on them, and then come back a few months later and start harvesting bowls full of glorious ripe fruit.

In most climates, tomato plants will produce lots of tasty fruit without a lot of assistance from the gardener. While it’s true that there’s nothing you have to do to your tomato plants except water them and keep them off the ground, what if I told you there was something more you could do to increase your harvest, reduce diseases, and overall have a much better tomato harvest?

This magic task is a simple one – it’s called pruning. I first learned about pruning my tomatoes when I worked on a CSA farm. The farm planted thousands of tomatoes, and for a few days each summer the whole staff would line up and down the tomato rows and prune the plants.

Seeing the results of pruning at the farm convinced me to try it on my own plants at home. And, since that fateful day, I’ve pruned my tomatoes every year.

If you’re not a practicing pruner yourself, I’m hoping to convince you with this blog post!

8 Easy Vegetables to Grow for Big Fall Harvests

woman holding spinach leaf

Me with a leaf of Giant Winter spinach. The name is no joke!

Is it still hot and buggy where you live? Are you getting tired of your garden? Are you starting to feel overwhelmed by your harvest? (I’m looking at you zucchini, cucumber, and tomato plants…)

If so, then I can totally understand why you’re feeling less than enthusiastic about planting a fall garden. I’m an avid and passionate gardener, and even I have a tough time getting myself into the garden to plant in the middle of summer.

The thing that motivates me? The knowledge that cooler weather is coming, and when it does, I’ll be excited to work in my garden again.

And I know my future self, the one who really wants to eat fresh spinach salads throughout October and November, isn’t going to be happy with me if I don’t get my butt out to my garden and plant some easy fall garden vegetables to provide me with big harvests way past my first frost.

I’ve been trying my darnedest to convince you to try planting a fall garden so you’ll experience the joyful pleasure of harvesting lots of food in November. Yo’ll feel like you’ve cheated the weather somehow! Everyone else has retired their gardens for the season, but you’re still getting plenty of food each week. It’s such a satisfying feeling!

Here are my top picks for eight easy fall vegetables to grow in your garden for abundant harvests all through fall and early winter.

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