It’s time to start thinking about your fall gardens

The summer has been slipping past us.  We only have a few more weeks of true summer growing and now is the time to start thinking and planning your fall gardens.  Of course, if you’ve had enough for one year than it’s simple.  You can begin to start closing your gardens down.  I will talk about this at a later date with the things that I do to prepare my gardens for the next growing season.  But since SFG’ers haven’t worked all that hard in the garden, we usually have plenty of energy to extend the season.  Right now is the time to plan and order things like garlic and scallions.  This will go directly into the ground and will grow throughout the winter to be harvested in the springtime.  In addition to feeding my family I now have the extra work of feeding 3 other people.  If you saw my previous post I described a way to make some extra money from your SFG’s.  And it’s put me to work.  I had already decided what I was going to grow(seeds that I already had)and what varieties I would offer(also things I already had.)  Talk about no start up costs!  Picture your fall gardens when the weather has significantly cooled, the days are shorter, and the pests are gone.  This is the perfect time to re-plant-from seed if you’d like-things like sugar snap peas, all varieties of lettuce, scallions, kale, Swiss chard, radishes, carrots, beets, spinach, etc.  Now is also the time to start-from seed-items that grow well in cold weather that you’ll have time to harvest.  This would include things like the cabbage(don’t plant them near your tomatoes!), brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.  The timing would be pretty good.  If you plant them now, by Labor day weekend you’ll have 30 days of growth already under way.  Add another 30 days until October 1st, and your not at 60 days.  Depending on when your real hard winter starts,  Here in zone 6 we have an additional 30 days after that-adding up to 90 days of growth-where you can continue to grow.  Many of these items don’t have to even be covered as they do very well in cold weather and even snow.  All your produce items may have to be covered up if a hard freeze is the weather.  But if you plant those things right now-from seed-you’ll have plenty of time to grow and harvest as they will be done in about 6 weeks time.  The picture showing is of 8 tomato plants taking up 8 square feet.  You can see that they are different heights-reflecting when I put them in the round.  The ones on the right hand of the picture were put in the ground about 3 weeks earlier than the 4 plants on the left side.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t plant that many tomato plants successfully that close together.  This picture is about 2 weeks old and right now there are tons of blossoms on each of them.

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8 thoughts on “It’s time to start thinking about your fall gardens

  • by Colin

    Please say it isn’t so! Time to start thinking about fall and winter already. Where does the time go? I’ve got fall carrots, beets, brussel sprouts and lettuces started now. Today I’ll be getting more lettuce and spinach started in a small box on the back patio. I’ve also got some of my garlic left from this years harvest down in the basement ready to be planted in late October/early November.
    Several members on the forum have gotten me interested in canning so I’m in the process of planning my fall harvest canning and also what I’ll plant and can next year. Like I really needed another hobby lol!
    Jim, the tomatoes look great and thanks for the fall update!

    • by Jim This is post author

      Colin-more hobbies! YES! That’s pretty funny. Canning-that’s a huge job. I used to do that many years ago and it just took me too long. So now I use other ways to preserve things that don’t take that kind of time. Like you said, at this time of the year it’s hard to keep up with all that stuff coming out of the gardens. And then there’s the other thing-you have to keep up with pulling it all or it starts to shut-down-especially with things like beans. That reminds me…I have to go out and check mine! By the way, I’ve been trying to upload a picture on the forum and it won’t work. I can’t seem to figure it out….Jim

  • by Chris

    I must have some early fruiting varieties in my garden then. I have two Early Girls and two Gardeners Delight and they are the ones that are producing like crazy. I also noticed this morning as I was watering that a few of the plants that weren’t producing now have ten or more small tomatoes growing so maybe they are just the variety that produce later. I’ll have to figure out pruning for next year. My plants are about seven feet tall now and are huge! Fortunately I have a good support system in place.

    My winter project next year is to grow tomatoes and peppers from seed. I have to take this whole gardening thing a step at a time but o think i am ready to try growing indoors. I found some plans for building a light support system from PVC and found the kinds of light bulbs I need to buy.

    Thanks for your blog and for taking the time to answer questions!

    • by Jim This is post author

      Chris..I think you ought to consider coming to one of my SFG workshops coming up in the fall. We address all the questions you’ve brought up and even show you a homemade light station-with plans to build it. At that time you will be able to see how to trim back a tomato plant, etc. It’s not free, but it’s a 3 hour class that I think you would benefit from in the long run. I’m mostly glad your tomatoes are starting to get going now. Don’t get too discouraged. First year SFGers always learn the most, and your 2nd year will be a banner year for you. Good plan on your winter project, but I wouldn’t start them too early. Start tomatoes by April 1st-peppers a couple of weeks later. They don’t do well in cold. Anyway, good luck-keep in touch…Jim

        • by Jim This is post author

          Chris…I’m glad you found it. There are two classes: the free ones at the SLC libraries(all the basics), and then there is the workshop which is $20 for the 3 hour class. In 10 years I’ve never had a participant in the workshops tell me that they were sorry they attended.

  • by Chris

    Question: Why are some of my tomato plants producing tons of fruit while other produce only one or two tomatoes?

    I planted nine tomato plants (location = Highland, Utah), each in their own one foot square in the same box and all of them have grown very well. Five of the plants have grown particularly large but seem to have used all of their energy growing and not producing. They flower but fruit never grows. The others that haven’t grown quite as big have produced a ton of tomotoes (I have already harvested well over 120 tomatoes) from four plants.

    They are in the same soil, get the same amount of water, the same amount of sunlight, all look very healthy so I am at a loss. Do you prune your plants? Might that help? If so, when should I prune? Earlier in the year? Now?

    Thanks for your help!

    • by Jim This is post author

      Chris-it’s always difficult to diagnose what’s wrong with things when you haven’t actually grown them or seen them yourself. From the sounds of it you’ve gotten a lot of tomatoes already-more than I’ve been able to harvest. In fact, I will pull my first tomato today or tomorrow, and I think I’m pretty good at this whole thing. To give you an idea-if you go to Bell Organics homepage and look through their “Crop Calender” you will find that a very good CSA here in Utah is just now starting to get tomatoes, and that will last until the end of September. So, keep that in mind. They do it for a living. Next, were these purchased from a store or grown by you from seed? You never know what you’re getting buying from someone else which is why I always grow my own from seed. Plus you get the additional advantage of growing unique varieties that you can’t buy off the shelves around here. Also remember that in temperatures of 95+(and we’ve had a lot of those)tomatoes don’t do very well. The pollen inside the flower becomes almost like “glue” so it’s harder to have success with temps that high. Last-yes, I always prune my tomatoes. I am constantly cutting off the “suckers” all summer long to encourage vertical growth and larger fruit. These suckers continue to grow the entire time your tomato plant is growing. If you’ve already pulled that many tomatoes you’re doing a fantastic job. Hope this helps…Jim

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