Summer has dwindled, but your garden doesn't have to. The autumn season still offers up plenty of time to work outside before the cold weather hits, while enjoying the personal and global benefits of gardening.
To help you dig in and get your hands dirty, here's some tips on what to plant this autumn and how to do it:
First, Don't Forget To Beat the Frost
Depending on your state, the first frost may come as soon as—gasp—September (or if you are very, very lucky, not at all!). No matter where you live, plant at least four to six weeks before the first frost hits to ensure plants that will overwinter have time to get established. Remember that even the most frost-proof plants won’t survive if their roots aren’t well established before the fall chill hits. BTW, if you've missed this deadline, compensate by planting indoors.
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Plant The Heartiest Herbs
Many herbs will last well into the fall, provided they are planted from existing plants and not from seed. Try maintaining some heartier herbs—mint, rosemary, lavender, sage, dill and parsley.
*Note that mint quite literally grows like a weed, so it’s best to keep it contained in a planter inside soil, or in a pot of its own.
Fall is also the time to divide your chives, which many don’t realize are actually a perennial! Divide them into two patches every-other fall, and you’ll have enough onions to last you through your next summer season.
Go Gah-Gah for Garlic
Fall is the best time to plant your garlic for next season… yes, it’s better than spring. This gives the sensitive allium a jumpstart on the growing season, resulting in bigger and fuller bulbs. Garlic also works as a natural insect repellant for the rest of your plants, making it ideal for an organic garden.
To prepare your garlic, break the bulbs into cloves, keeping the husks on and plant them two inches deep and four inches apart. For best results, use a bulb from your existing garden or grown locally to ensure it’s suited to growing in your region.
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Consider a Cover Crop
Cover crops are excellent solutions to keep your soil ready for spring if you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a state with a year-round growing season. They will out-compete weeds and add rich nutrients to the soil, and some are actually edible.
Plant your crop at least a month before the first frost and plant directly in the ground. We suggest trying red clover, field peas, winter rye, and purple corn flowers called Bachelor’s Buttons.
When spring rolls around, simply mow your cover crop into the soil and till to preserve all of the organic nutrients.
Plant Cold-Tolerant Winter Kale
If temperatures don’t dip below freezing in your areas during winter, fall is actually a better time than spring to plant kale! This cold-tolerant superfood is packed with calcium, vitamin A & C, and acquires a sweeter temperature when grown under cool conditions.
WATCH on Z Living: Healthy Gourmet, where nutritionist Julie Daniluk and chef Ezra Title join forces and battle between taste and nutrition, helping home cooks create nutritious and tasty meals that can feed a crowd. See a sneak preview here.
What do you like to plant in the fall? Tell us in the comments below!