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Gardening For The Frost

Fall is a wonderful time to plant vegetables in your garden, the cooler weather makes the time spent out doors so much more enjoyable than during the hottest days of August. There’s a wonderful variety of vegetables that can be planted in the fall and they tend to taste better than there spring grown counterparts.

Every zone has its first killing frost at a different time, so make sure you find out the kill frost date for your area. Ours in the Charlotte area is about Oct. 24 give or take 7-10 days. Knowing the kill frost date is very important since, most plants need to be sown 60 – 80 days before the frost. There’s no reason to be afraid of planting the crops a bit later than recommended, it can be risky but the rewards are definitely greater than the risk. If you are going to plant a fall garden make sure you use plenty of mulch. 2-4 inches of mulch will protect your plants from the frost and keep your soil nice and damp,  plants will grow better in damp soil then dry.

Cold frames are a great option to keeping your garden going all through the winter. Make sure it’s situated on the south side of a building to help it catch as much sunlight and warmth as possible. The cold frame should be angled, with a six-inch height difference between the front and back. On warm sunny winter days make sure to vent the frame so it doesn’t get to warm for the plants, conversely on an especially cold day you should cover the cold frame with heavy cloth or burlap. The beauty of cold frames is that you can start your seeds as much as six weeks earlier then you would be able to outside.

Some hearty plants like garlic can be planted between two to four weeks before the frost, while shallots are planted after the it. If you plant these any earlier the delicate top growth will be damaged by winter cold. On the other hand harvesting other cold hardy plants like kale and collards after a touch of frost gives you stronger sweeter flavors in the greens. If you leave the plants to over-winter in the ground after your harvest, you’ll be surprised with an early spring harvest of greens.

All of the following plants grow wonderfully in the fall and some into the winter.

-Carrots (harvest over-wintered carrots in early spring before they start to go to seed and the seeds get woody.)

-Beets (you can successively grow this quick-growing plants)
-Globe Onion
(harvested in January or early February after frost has sweetened them)
-Bunching Onions
(you can successively grow this quick-growing plants)

Leaf Crops
-Early Cabbages (this grows especially well in a cold frame)
-Winter Cauliflower
-Swiss Chard
-Brussels Sprouts
-Fava Beans

-Leaf Lettuce (you can successively grow this quick-growing plants)
-Mustard (this grows especially well in a cold frame)
-Spinach (you can successively grow this quick-growing plants)
-Lawn Seed
-Perennial Flowers
-Perennial Herbs

Here’s a handy fall planting schedule for Charlotte NC, dates can be adjusted for your gardens location.


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