What to Plant Now for a Fall Harvest

Jess Ann Kirby browses the fresh vegetables at the farmers' market in St Petersburg.

So maybe you’re feeling a little bit of garden FOMO watching friends post the fruits of their labor to social media—but it’s not too late! While you might have missed the boat on tomatoes (sorry) there are still things you can plant now that will grow into the fall. Plus, we’ve got some advice on how to set yourself up for success for next spring. We spoke to garden guru, Phoebe Poole of Weatherlow Farms, to get her advice on what we should be doing this fall. Thanks to the cooler temps it’s a great time to get outdoors.

why is fall an ideal time to plant?

The change in temperature and a change in the light (shorter days) makes the fall an ideal time for perennials (plants that come back year after year) to get planted. While they might not look very showy now, they’re busy developing stronger root systems that will last through the winter and then be ready to do their thing come spring.

Planting veggies, Herbs, & Fruit

Exciting news! Phoebe says that now is a great time for greens, so lettuce mixes, head lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, and more can all be started from seed. With the intense sunlight and extreme temps of the summer, most greens go to seed. The cooler fall temperatures work better for growing greens. Root veggies like carrots and beets can also be sown. Now is also the time to plant perennial herbs like rosemary, mint, thyme, sage, and lavender, only you’ll want the plants to already be established so get little versions from your local garden store instead of starting them from seed. Berries like strawberries, blackberries and blueberries can also be planted. They’re not going to produce fruit, but they’ll be ready to go come springtime. Just put a lot of mulch around them to prevent weed growth.

perennial plants

Peonies, woody shrubs like hydrangeas, clematis, and roses, will all thrive if you get them in the ground this fall. When you pick up the new plants from the garden center some of them might even be in bloom already, so you get the instant gratification of colorful flowers and the benefit of knowing they’ll be getting more established before winter. They’ll come back bigger and better in the spring.

perennial bulbs

If you’re already planting other perennials Phoebe says it’s the perfect time to pop some spring bulbs in. Not only will you create a layered landscape design, they look great while the shrub is still getting ready to flower and then die back by the time your larger perennials start doing their thing. You can plant the usual suspects daffodils, tulips, and crocuses, but why not try some other lesser known varieties like fritillaria, different varieties of hyacinths, like grape hyacinths (they spread), snow drops, and smaller varieties of alliums. “Be careful about where you’re sourcing your bulbs,” says Phoebe. “They’re not all the same quality. Take a look and see if they’re visibly dried out or moldy, you don’t want to do all that work and not have stuff come up.” Certain bulbs need a number of cold days to grow to the right height and to flower, which is why we plant spring bulbs now. Pay attention to the planting instructions, you want to make sure the bulbs are placed in the ground deep enough. If you need more resources, Phoebe recommends checking out Colorblends, a wholesale flower site, that has really good info.

prep your beds for next year

If what stopped you last year was not being ready in time to plant, work on making your beds now. Not only can you construct them, you can also prep the soil with compost or slow-release organic fertilizer so they are ready to go in the spring. If you have questions about what to add to the soil ask an expert at your local garden center. You want something that’s going to feed things a little now and then a little in the spring. Put mulch on them to prevent weed growth and you’re all set!

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