Fall Garden Planting Basics

Fall is The New Spring!

Planting a fall garden. What is going on? Over and welcome to another very exciting episode right here on the mi Gardner channel I am so excited for this episode because I’m gonna be sharing with you not only my favorite season of gardening but also a lot of plants that fit in that season that people so often overlooked and so I want to talk about fall gardening.

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Now you might be wondering why on earth is fall your favorite time of year for gardening. It’s because it’s our longest season with beautiful weather here in Michigan. We don’t have a spring and our summers are relentless. In fact our summers are so hot that our garden grows and we go in and we go on enjoying harvesting from it but we don’t actually get out there and enjoy our garden like you think because our summers man they can be ninety to a hundred degrees and I know a lot of people you know New Mexico and Texas and Southern California you’re laughing at me when I say a hundred degrees is hot but you have to understand that’s all climatization.


If I go there and it’s a hundred and ten I’m gonna have a heat stroke whereas you guys are outside just having a great time and likewise if you come here and it’s like 70 degrees we’re all out on t-shirt and shorts and sandals and you’re putting on a winter coat it’s all it’s very relative but you have to understand that here in Michigan when it hits 90 to 100 degrees it’s just too hot. It’s way too hot, it is way too warm. We just end up staying indoors or finding shade somewhere, we really don’t get to enjoy the garden.

Link to planting tools on Amazon

So the season that I enjoy the garden the most and by enjoy I mean I actually get to get my hands in the soil, I actually spend time coming out to look at plants longer, I like to take pictures in the garden more, I grow more crops that I eat raw and fresh from the garden rather than yo crops like tomatoes where I might grow it, harvest it, bring it inside and end up preserving it for the off season of winter. We turn a lot of it into pizza sauce spaghetti sauce and things like that.

Michigan seasons

We don’t eat those things a lot in their raw form whereas a lot of your cool other crops we enjoy eating fresh things like lettuces and broccoli cabbage kale radishes a lot of those things they’re so delicious fresh but the season to grow them folks is the fall.

It is such a beautiful season here at least in Michigan. I know a lot of Great Lakes regions experienced the same type of season where I’m starting to kind of push this as fall is the new spring and that’s kind of a the idea that we want you to take home from this video is that fall is the new spring. Anything you can plant in the spring you can also plant in the fall even easier and you might have already had your mind blown by that but I want to explain that because before we get into planting it. I want to express why that’s the case. It’s because of when you’re planting out your for your spring garden.

Last frost date

You have to worry about when’s my last frost date, when is one of my last frost date that I can put stuff out  and then I have to worry about starting it indoors. Do I have the light, start the setups driving up space, all those question marks as well. If all of that’s true then you start your stuff indoors, you move it outdoors, there’s a transition period and then you get it all outside. You put it in the ground and for what a week and a half or two weeks of beautiful weather for fall crops. Fall crops like a high of 70 degrees and around a low of 35 to 40 degrees so they like it. They like it relatively cool. I’m cool, too warm, they don’t like it hot.

Lettuce will bolt, spinach will bolt, broccoli will bolt and so often we put our crops out in the spring saying yes we got our spring crops. I mean everyone calls them spring crops. I’m going to start from now on calling them fall crops because it makes a whole lot more sense, because when we can plant outdoors, when we actually can plant outdoors in our last frost state generally we’re also moving out things like tomatoes and peppers and squash and zucchini.

Broccoliand cabbage growing

Those are things that are safe to plant outdoors in that time but also we’re moving a lot of are things like our broccoli and our cabbage and the problem is once we get them in the ground the weather goes from 70 degrees which is great, 60 to 70 degrees to like 80 or 90 almost overnight. I mean it’s absolutely insane by June.

We’re having weather in the low 80s to to mid 90s in June and we’re barely getting our garden in by May so I mean there’s just not  a transition period there of maybe what a month. That’s not enough time and the thing is that shock period ends up sending everything to pulled and you’ll lose a lot of your garden and it just kind of ends up being wasted space in the end because you really don’t get to enjoy it like you would getting it to full maturity. So we’re gonna be planting a fall garden today.

Using a caterpillar tunnel

I’m going with you, I’m going to be kind of sharing with you some of the crops that we like to plant in this bed here. We plant it in this bed that has our caterpillar tunnel because our caterpillar tunnel is multi-purpose we can throw a shade cloth over top if it gets too hot and we can throw a greenhouse cover over top if it gets too cold and this is great, this is versatile. That stays up all year long for that purpose because this bed it’s only designated for for cool weather crops so the first most obvious thing we’ve planted which is actually been planted over on this side of the bed is all of our lettuces.

We plant high-intensity lettuce and that means we do not really worry about spacing our seeds apart but we space our rows about four inches apart between each row. We highly seed where we densely seed. Everything grows up in a thick mat and it helps to shade the soil protect against evaporation. It also helps to suppress the weeds and it really helps to just get us the most bang for our buck here in the space that we’re growing. So in this space we planted some some red romaine, some grand Grand Rapids leaf lettuce, some freckles romaine Tango leaf lettuce. This is our all-time favorite lettuce and always will be.

Planting lettuce

It’s just incredible, some iceberg. We do not let this actually get to a head, we just harvest the leaves. So in this method here everything is for leaf lettuce, nothing is actually for cut greens and that means we could harvest sooner and we can grow more than letting everything get up to a big head and the final thing is  costs so we’ve planted those before in the past. Those are kind of our go-to for fall but what we’re going to planting here next is our beets so we’ve got and then we’re also gonna be planting some spinach so that’s going to be in this bed here we greens beets and spinach another thing that we’re doing this year is we’re actually using a bamboo stake.

I’ve cut a bamboo stake to roughly the size or the length of our bed and I’m using this because we started adapting this method from a lot of our friends over in Europe that use this method. They actually use a board and they get some nice straight lines and one of the things that I’ve always said is I don’t like a lot of tools in the garden but this is one that I can see myself using a lot more often. I’ve started using it here and I really like how accurate and straight the rows are it gives us just a very simple guide where we can we can place it. Replace it right here and then draw out our our rows and that way we’re going to have real straight lines that are just consistent.

Effective spacing

And it helps utilize our space more effectively because that’s one thing to  consider is you know this doesn’t have to be the fall garden schedule. With any garden if you’re growing like this and your next row is like this number one your spacing over here is way too close and these ones are too far apart and you’re not using your space effectively. One row might be three inches apart. The next row might be five inches apart, next row might be four inches apart and that in those inconsistencies all add up to less space actually growing food and so this really just helps us to get a nice even line and then we’ll go through and we’ll we’ll plant our seeds.

Alright so we just planted up. The lettuce is done and the beets are done and now we got the spinach to plant. We’re gonna plant it exactly the same way so I won’t I won’t bore you with planting that up but that’s also going to go in here. We’re gonna plant about a third of our bed up with spinach and you might be wondering yourself well Luke it’s not even August yet, why are you planting spinach. Well because spinach and lettuce they can grow in the summer. It’s a very common misconception that you can’t grow spinach and and your cooler crops like lettuce and things like that in the summer and in fact you can. You should harvest it sooner.

Planting carrots

So because it’s going to obviously go to seed a lot sooner we’re going to harvest a lot sooner but we can always go back and replant it because we’re also going to have other beds in here like where we harvested our garlic from. That’s also going to be converted over to fall crops as well, so we’re going to have lots of different things going on. One of the things also we’re going to be planting is a fall harvest of carrots and so with all these varieties in mind you might be wondering in fact, if you probably haven’t already commented in the comments box, well what about that crop, what about this crop and and here’s what I have to say about that.

Planting tomatoes

A fall garden can be anything that you want to plant. Then you may be wondering yourself well what do you mean anything I want to plant. I literally mean anything you want to plant. there’s no specific plant that belongs in a fall garden. true cool weather crops will do better in a fall garden because the weather is cooling down and that’s kind of the purpose, but for instance we’ve taken a lot of tips from the Amish when it comes to fall tomatoes because we like a long prolonged harvest of tomatoes and so we’ve started to actually succession plant our tomatoes.

Where our one tomato bed which is just coming into fruition right now, is giving us loads of tomatoes however our other tomato bed is barely putting on tomatoes. Meaning that by the time that plant comes to full maturity it’s going to be sometime around mid to late September, early October before it’s completely mature and giving us lots of fruit and that’s something that is a fall harvest. You know just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you can’t grow summer crops either so keep that in mind.

Things like cucumbers

You know obviously there are things that are challenging  but I always say depending on your area it might not be challenging. Things like cucumbers and things like some of your your zucchini and some of your squashes, things like that they don’t do well in our area but if you live someplace in like a high desert location where it’s dry but also cool, squashes. Squash just has a hard time here because of powdery mildew later on in the season. so we don’t grow that type of crop but tomatoes do just fine. You can even get plenty of things like beans. Because we have a lot of beans already I’m not gonna plant any more because they’ll produce well into fall already as it is.

Plan your harvest of beans

So I don’t need to plant any more but if you’re someone that wants to plan a fall harvest of beans just make sure you know how many days to maturity it is plus how many days to to germination it is. Add the two together and see if you have enough time before your last harvest are before your first frost date. So ours is around October 20th. If you take today’s date and you see how many days it is till your first frost date look on the back of every seed packet and see if you have enough days to maturity plus days to germination add the two together and if you do grow it.

Other fall planting

Try it see if it grows well in your area. I always say you never know unless you try and so for us we’re going to be sticking to just those those basic four, carrots, beets, lettuce and spinach but obviously radishes are another option for you. Radishes pick 25 to 30 days. You can grow easily radishes in this amount of time for a fall garden. If you’re looking at something like broccoli get it in the ground. Broccoli is a wonderful fall crop because broccoli actually does even better in the fall garden.

It’s one of those things that you want, I want you to experience, I want you to experiment with and and I’ve given you some good ideas and I’ve given you a framework for what you need to to look for but just go out and give it a shot. You know like I said I’ve tried things before that have not worked and I’ve tried things before that people say wouldn’t work and they ended up working, so I don’t like ever telling you what you should and shouldn’t plant. I’m telling you what I’m gonna plant and there’s a lot of things out there  to consider.

Don’t forget garlic

Leave space for garlic. Garlic is a crop that we grow a lot of. It is one that you have to plant in the fall garden because it needs a cool period  so that forms good sized heads and that’s something you have to plant in the fall. So we always dedicate about 1/2 a bed to 3/4 of a bed for garlic and that’s just something that we do because we love garlic but again think of what plants you like to grow. See if you can grow them and if you enjoy eating them and they have enough time to grow plant them. So I hope you all enjoy, I hope you learned something new.

I really do hope that this trick here with the bamboo steak was helpful to some people. Again you know it’s nothing that I’ve patented it’s been used for centuries but it’s it’s something we just kind of thought we’d give a shot. We ended up really liking it for getting across our entire bed in really nice straight lines, a good visual guide of where we need to be drawing our rows and that’s really helped.


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