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.

growing a fall garden and harvesting carrots

Harvesting carrots from my fall garden on October 22.


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. 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.

Weed growth slows down. In 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, and spinach in fall than I do in spring and summer. And, my harvests are longer and more abundant than at those other times of the 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 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 during August. Carve out a little time for planting now and you’ll be reaping the rewards of fresh food right outside your door until well into fall and early winter.

My online class, Extend Your Harvest: Plant a Fall Garden, will help you get started on your fall garden right away by teaching you the essentials you need to know to be successful and motivating you to take action now so you don’t miss your chance.

Get started on your fall garden right away!



Read more about fall gardening:

8 Easy Vegetables to Grow in Your Fall Garden

How to Eat Beets From Your Garden All Year Round





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