squashI might be little late with my fall garden, but since I’m in Texas we usually have a late freeze and I may be able to get some produce.

But if you were getting your fall garden ready at the right time you would have been working on it mid summer.

Ideally the fall garden should be getting prepared and planted around the summer solstice. When the days start getting shorter your fall garden planting can begin in most areas.

You want plenty of time for the plants to mature and produce their bounty before the first autumn freeze.

This is an excerpt about fall gardening from P. Allen Smith.

“The average date of the first killing frost in your area is the most important thing to know when it comes to fall vegetable gardening. Your local garden center is a good source of information for this date. To determine when to start planting, find out the number of days to maturity for the vegetable. Next, count back the number of days from the first average frost date. Some people add a week or so to allow for a few extra days to harvest the produce once it’s mature. You will find maturity information on seed packets and some plant labels.

Most everything you plant in spring you can grow in your fall garden, too. These are cool season plants, meaning they will tolerate a light frost, thrive in short daylight hours and perform best with mild temperatures. Some vegetables even taste better when nipped by a light frost.” http://www.pallensmith.com/index.php?id=16611

Here is a list of 10 common fall garden plants:
• Broccoli
• Brussels Sprouts
• Cabbage
• Cauliflower
• Kohlrabi
• Lettuce
• Mustard Greens
• Radish
• Rutabaga
• Spinach

Here is a resource that can show you plants to grow more specific to your Plant Hardiness Zones. http://www.southernstates.com/articles/winter-vegetables.aspx

If you’re upset that you haven’t gotten your fall garden growing yet, it may not be to late.

If you live in the Southern states then your first freeze is usually fairly late in the season and you still have time to get it going.

And guess what, you can even continue to grow fairly late into the fall and sometimes through the majority of the winter regardless of where you live in the United States.

Winter vegetable gardening is a practice that even people as far north as Alaska use to help feed their families through the long cold winter.

A common way to keep your veggies growing through the winter is with the use of row covers. This is a lightweight fabric that is made to cover plants and protect them from freeze and frost.

Simply make some hoops that go over your plants, wire, pipe and pvc work well for this and then drape the cloth over to cover the plants completely.

Make sure the fabric is firmly anchored to make a good seal, you don’t want the cold wind lifting the fabric and freezing your plants.

The plants can still get sunlight and rain because the fabric is permeable. However the more layers you use to protect the plants the less sun and water they’ll get. But it may be necessary depending on how cold the weather is.

Here is a link to an article with more detail and info about winter gardening: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/winter-gardening

If you want to step your winter gardening up a notch you may consider growing your veggies in a greenhouse during the winter.

There are many plants and veggies that will thrive during the cool winter months in a greenhouse, and with a small heating system you can grow almost any normal vegetable during the winter.

There are many affordable greenhouse kits available from your local home improvement store or even online. Some of them are simple and even under $100 dollars!

Check out these you can buy on Amazon and have shipped to your house!

This next week we’ll get into depth about building your own greenhouse that will be sturdier than a store bought instant greenhouse kit.

We’ll even get into what the most efficient winter greenhouses are and how you can get the most out of your fall and winter gardening.

What are you planting this fall and winter? Have you built or used a greenhouse to grow year-round before? We’d love to hear about your gardening exploits in the comments below!