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Fall Planting for Success
If you live in an area that receives frost, your growing season is defined by this major weather event. This means that the time between the first and last frost is collectively known as your “growing season.” For us in Zones 9 and 10, our growing season is very long because we receive minimal frost, if any.
As a general rule of thumb, planting your spring garden happens after the threat of frost is gone. You can look up your estimated last frost date here. Spring planting is pretty straightforward in this regard. Remember that some crops like to be planted later in the spring when the soil is warmer. You can find specific planting information on each crop page.
Fall planting, on the other hand, can be a little more confusing because frost brings a definite end date to your growing season. When you are planting your crops late in the season you want to be sure you give them enough time to mature before the frost kills your garden.
When to Plant a Fall Garden
Knowing when to start your fall planting is completely dependent on your Zone and the estimated date for the first frost of the year. Here in Zones 9 and 10, we plant our fall crops like brassicas in August because we know that they can mature before the temperatures drop in January.
The best practice for your fall planting is to map out the maturity of your plants by checking the days to maturity on a calendar. Ask yourself, “Does this plant have enough time to mature before our estimated first frost?”
When to Plant Fall Flowers
Planting flowers in late summer will give your garden an array of blooms to enjoy in the fall before cold weather comes. Here is a short list of flower seeds that should be planted in late summer to allow for a beautiful fall garden full of blooms. These flowers can be planted again as a fall planting if your area does not drop below 30 degrees.
Zones 9 and 10
- Sweet Peas
In all other zones, you will want to check the days to maturity to make sure your flowers will bloom before your first frost. This is an important step in considering your fall planting.
How to Protect Plants from Frost
If your area gets frost, that does not mean all growing and gardening has to end. Depending on the severity of your frost, you can continue to grow in your garden with a little bit of protection.
Row cover is an incredible tool that can help protect your crops from insects and keep your crops a few degrees warmer. Depending on the level of protection you need, you may need to use a lightweight or heavyweight row cover.
What is row cover? It’s basically a fabric that you lay over your crops to protect them from being damaged by frost. It’s so versatile too! We use it during the hot fall to help reflect some of the plants’ light and to protect them from the heat too!
Growing in Cold Climates
If you are growing in a cold climate, you will want to use various methods to keep your plants from being killed by frost. Here are just a few ways you can warm your soil and keep the plants protected.
- Growing in a greenhouse
- Covering your plants with row cover
- Using cold frames
- Growing your plants indoors