(NaturalNews) When gardeners get to late summer, they begin to think about their harvest and winter time plans. Often overlooked by the home or hobby gardener, though, is the fall garden. This can be one of the most productive times for a garden, rather than the winding down and cleanup many consider it to be.
Summer crops like beans and peas are in and no longer producing in the garden. Rather than leave the plants as they are or, worse, pull them up and leave the ground bare, many gardeners are now putting in their late crops.
Many cold-tolerant varieties are popular fall garden plants:
These are just a few.
As you plan your fall garden, the number one thing to know is when the Killing Frost date is for your area. This is the date that the frost comes in cold and long enough to kill off most plants - including your garden.
Most almanacs for your area will have this date, usually as an approximate. The Farmer's Almanac publishes a Killing Frost calendar every year and you can find yours online:
With the date of the frost known, count back 14-15 weeks and that will be the optimum date to begin starting seeds. For most, this date is mid-July or early August.
Those summer crops that are no longer productive can be pulled from the garden and thrown on the compost heap. The space is now for the fall garden. Before planting the new crops, though, it's a good idea to do some soil maintenance.
Add an inch of manure or compost to the top of the soil. Then press the seeds or starters through this into the earth to promote aeration. If compost tea is available, spread that on the entire garden.
The next issue that comes with the fall season is pests. This is the time of year when crickets, grasshoppers, and a lot of other nasties get busy destroying gardens. To combat them, the first line of defense will be healthy plants with strong root systems and good nutrition. Healthy plants can stave off many attacks from pests and some even produce their own natural insect repellents.
Chickens kept near the garden are also good insect destroyers. Diatomaceous earth can be spread around and in the garden to safely (and naturally) keep insects under control as well.
Many parts of North America can enjoy a fall garden's bounty well into winter. It's even possible to be eating freshly-picked spinach and salad lettuces at Christmas time.
Don't miss out on your chance to enjoy and reap the benefits of a great fall garden!
Aaron Turpen is a professional writer living in Wyoming in the USA. His blogs cover organic/sustainable living and environmental considerations (AaronsEnvironMental.com) and the science debunking mainstream medical and proving alternatives (HiddenHealthScience.com).