Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your gardening tools! In fact, now is the perfect time to plant those fall vegetables. Start sowing your garden now, and you’ll enjoy a delicious crop of fresh veggies by the time winter weather arrives. Plant enough, and you'll be able to enjoy fresh veggies in the fall and have plenty left over to can or freeze for use throughout the colder months.
Not quite sure where to start? You’re in the right place! This fall planting guide will tell you which crops to plant right now and explain how to use unheated greenhouse growing to ensure you’ll harvest a beautiful autumn bounty.
Best Crops to Grow this Fall
One of the most important keys to successful fall gardening is knowing which crops to plant. Some of the easiest fall and winter vegetables include:
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Green onions
Deciding which crops to plant will depend, in part, on personal preference. You’ll also need to consider how much space you have and your area’s hardiness zone.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a map that divides the country into eleven different zones based on the average annual temperature in the region. Each zone represents ten degrees of temperature difference. The zones are further divided into “A” and “B” segments, representing five-degree differences.
If you live in zones 8 through 11, you shouldn’t have any problem growing turnips, summer squash, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, or pumpkins. In zones 5 through 7, you’ll have the best luck with beets, spinach, cauliflower, and carrots.
Your growing timeline will depend on the crops you choose. Since fall and winter vegetables receive less daylight than those grown in the middle of summer, they typically need a bit more time to mature. This makes it important to plant them at the right time.
Many of the most popular options, like broccoli and carrots, should be planted by early to mid-August to ensure they’ll fully mature before frost and low levels of sunlight hinder growing. Other fast-growing crops, like lettuce and radishes, can be planted into late September. If in doubt, it’s always better to plant earlier than later. Some vegetables, like broccoli, can stay in the dirt well after they're mature, making them less sensitive to growing timelines.
You can get a good idea of how long it will take your vegetables to be ready to harvest by checking the “days to maturity” information, which will be listed on the seed packet or plant tag. To ensure your plants stay safe, you’ll want to plan your gardening so the “days to maturity” will fall before the first frost.
Try Unheated Greenhouse Growing!
Don’t want to stress about frost, heavy rains, hail, or other weather conditions that could affect your crops? Consider putting a greenhouse on your property! Portable greenhouses are relatively inexpensive and are easy to use. An unheated greenhouse stays warm by trapping the heat of the sun during the day.
They can typically maintain overnight temperatures that are about 41 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the outdoor temperature. This will protect your crops from frost and allow you to grow and harvest vegetables well into the colder months. Using a greenhouse also gives you more flexibility in planning when you'll plant and harvest your crops.
If you don’t have room for portable greenhouses on your property or you’re not ready to commit, a small raised-bed greenhouse is an excellent option. These only take up four square feet of space and are two feet high, making them suitable for almost any backyard space. Despite their compact size, raised-bed greenhouses provide the perfect amount of protection for a small crop of fall vegetables or fresh herbs.
Depending on the climate where you live, using a portable greenhouse may also allow you to grow hardy plants all winter long. Some of the best options for this include certain leafy greens, chives, mint, parsley, rhubarb, and perennials.
Greenhouse Growing Tips
A temperature-controlled greenhouse will allow you to grow a large, delicious crop of fall and winter veggies with no stress! For best results, follow these simple greenhouse growing tips.
1. Give Your Plants Some Space
To maximize plant growth, it’s important to give them some space. If you’re planting your crop in the ground, space the plants out just as you would when growing them outdoors. If you prefer to use containers instead, make sure you keep them far enough apart, so the leaves don’t touch.
Some people use raised garden beds in their greenhouses. In this case, be sure to thin out weak plants, so the hardier ones have room to spread out and thrive.
2. Watch Out for Disease
Plant diseases can wipe out your entire crop! Keep a close eye on your plants and remove any that look unhealthy right away. This will help ensure diseases don’t spread.
3. Keep Pests Under Control
To keep pests away from your greenhouse vegetables, consider adding some marigolds to your list of crops. These plants aren't just beautiful; they also act as a natural insect repellant. You may also want to consider purchasing praying mantis eggs or ladybugs. Both of these insects are beneficial to your plants and will keep damaging pests at bay.
4. Maintain Enough Airflow
Although the temperatures may be dropping outside, your portable greenhouse will get quite warm on sunny days. Sometimes, it can even become hot enough to stress your vegetables. Avoid this by ensuring your greenhouse has plenty of ventilation. The easiest way to do this is to prop the doors open and/or add a fan.
5. Maximize Light
While a greenhouse will keep your plants warm and dry, you’ll also need to make sure they get enough light. To do this, remove any shading material and make sure to keep your greenhouse clean. If you find that you still can’t get enough natural light, you may need to add some grow lights as well.
Greenhouse Cleaning Tips
Unheated greenhouse growing will allow you to garden almost all year long. However, it’s also important to give your greenhouse a thorough cleaning between seasons. Keeping your greenhouse clean will deter harmful pests and help keep plant diseases from spreading.
To clean your greenhouse the right way, follow these five simple steps.
1. Remove Everything from Inside
It’s important to start by taking everything out of your greenhouse. This includes tables, shelves, benches, pots, and equipment, as well as all of your plants. Once the greenhouse is empty, sweep up any cobwebs, dirt, or anything else that has accumulated on the floor, frame, or cover.
2. Clear Out the Trash
Next, throw away or recycle any non-reusable items. The quicker you remove this clutter, the easier the rest of the process will be.
3. Disinfect Reusables
Before returning any reusable items to your greenhouse, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect them. Cleaning pots, trays, and equipment is important. However, it's just as important to clean shelving, benches, and anything else you plan to put back inside.
To disinfect these items, start by washing them with soap and water and then soaking them in a solution of one gallon of water mixed with ¾ cup of oxygen bleach. Rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry.
4. Clean the Cover and Frame
Thoroughly cleaning your greenhouse cover and frame will help ensure you remove any mold, fungi, and other microscopic pathogens that may be on the surface. The best way to clean a portable greenhouse is to use warm water, mild detergent, and a soft sponge. When you're done, rinse it off using a garden hose with a nozzle.
Avoid damaging your greenhouse while you clean it! Make sure you don’t use any brushes that have sharp edges, and don’t use a pressure washer since the pressure of the spray is strong enough to ruin your greenhouse cover.
5. Set Your Greenhouse Up
If you clean your greenhouse on a day that’s warm and/or windy, it will dry much faster, speeding up the entire process. Once you’re sure everything is dry, you can set your greenhouse back up, so you’re prepared to plant your next round of crops.
Start Your Fall Gardening Today!
If you’re ready to try your hand at unheated greenhouse growing, ShelterLogic is here to help! Explore our selection of affordable greenhouses today! We offer easy ordering and fast delivery, so you’re sure to receive your order in plenty of time to plant your fall crops.