Let’s Plant a Fall Garden

Ah, relief from the sweltering heat of the summer! Don’t get me wrong, I know we are still in for some hot days–hot days that seem hotter because our minds tell us that the weather should be cooler. But as we creep into autumn, the days are getting shorter, night temperatures are cooler, and eventually, the day temperatures will start consistently falling.

What do these day lengths and temperature changes mean for the vegetable gardener and farmer? It means delicious leafy greens, brassicas, root crops, and cool season herbs are waiting in the greenhouse, ready to be transplanted or seeded! While we are lucky to be able to grow another crop of cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in Charleston during autumn, a gardener should make the most of this time of harmony between warm season and cool season crops in the garden.

Creating a harmonious garden starts with preparing the soil. Adding compost to the existing soil and tilling the soil are key tasks in preparing the soil for heavy feeding brassicas and root vegetables. Tilling and loosening the soil to a depth of 8-12” will create a trouble-free path for root vegetables with long tap roots such as carrots. Once the soil is tilled to the appropriate depth, add 1-3” of compost (for an existing garden) and work the compost into the existing soil. Remove any weeds, sticks, small pebbles, etc. to create a smooth growing medium for your plants and seeds.

Once your soil is ready, let’s start planting! If you prefer to grow from seed, you probably planted seeds in trays during July and August. But if not, no need to worry! You can get most everything you need from area garden centers or farmer’s markets, with the exception of warm season veggies.

Visit these locations for your fall garden needs:
– Sea Island Savory Herbs, 843-559-1446, 5920 Chisolm Road, John’s Island
– Hyam’s Garden Center, 843.795.4570, 870 Folly Rd, James Island

The crops in the table above are not the only things you can plant in the fall, but they are some common vegetables and herbs that do well in our climate this time of year. Feeling adventurous? Expand your palate and plant shiso, sorrel, fennel, chicory, chinese cabbage, escarole, and kohlrabi. You can also peruse seed companies to find your favorite vegetables or some interesting new plants. Be sure to check back periodically for new vegetables and herbs that you can experiment with in your garden.

Crucial Tip! Water your new plants and seeds! Transplants need to be watered daily for first two weeks, then every other day until established (approximately two more weeks), and then three times per week. Seeds need to be watered twice daily, whether in seed trays or directly sown into your garden. Once seeds germinate, they can be watered once per day. After seedlings grow healthy and strong, they can follow the same watering schedule as the transplants.

Be well and enjoy your time in the garden!

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