Gardening Tips for Plentiful Fall Harvests

Katelyn Preston September 9, 2016

It may still feel like summer outside, but the fall gardening season has nearly arrived. In fact, if you’re looking for a garden of wholesome veggies and fresh herbs, then now is the time to work your summer soil for fall planting. Here are some tips that will help you grow dinner in your own garden this fall.

Timely planting is the key to a successful fall garden

When it comes to gardening in Arizona, understanding the right time to plant your crops is of great importance. Without timely planting, you’ll likely see dramatic failures in your garden. For instance, if you plant heat tolerant crops in the fall, they probably won’t make it through the winter because of the cooler temperatures. Schedules published by the University of Arizona Agricultural Extension Service and local nurseries offer great guidelines for when to plant what.

Know what to plant

You can start planting your veggie crops now through late November for autumn harvest. This is the time for varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, Brussel sprouts, spinach, collards, fennel, lettuces, cucumbers, onions, celery and root crops such as carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, and a variety of radishes. For vegetables that don’t come in a “started” form such as carrots, beets and onions, it’s best to start your crop from seed.

If you’re planning to plant peppers and tomatoes, make sure they are short season varieties (with 50-60 days to maturity). This will help you get an early harvest before late November’s potential frost starts wreaking havoc on cold-sensitive crops. Also, if you want to enjoy veggies like artichokes and fava beans during the spring, this is the time to plant them. Both are cold-loving plants and will result in lush harvest by Mid-March and April.

This is also a great time to grow your herbs. Basil is a common choice for fall planting but it can’t handle the cold so make sure you plant it while the days and nights are still relatively warm. Other popular fall herbs are oregano, mint and cilantro. Unlike basil, however, cilantro doesn’t take the heat too well.

Prepare your soil

When planting fall crops, it’s important to prep the soil by restoring nutrients removed by your spring and summer plants. A light layer of compost or aged manure can help boost nutrients in the soil to make it fit for another planting.

If you don’t have a dedicated area for your vegetable garden, we recommend you work on that first. For your vegetable patch, raised beds or otherwise, make furrows about 2 feet apart. Of course, it’s totally possible to plant vegetables throughout your garden. However, it’s important to keep in mind how much space your crops need, which crops need more sunshine, and which can do with less.  

Save your crops from garden pests

In addition to temperature and day length, various types of pests pose yet another hazard for fall gardening. The most common — and often the most difficult — fall garden pest is the whitefly. It can cause extensive damages to plants such as squash, melon, pumpkin and tomato. To combat whitefly infestations, you can try effective tips from our repertoire of DIY pest control ideas and remedies. Alternatively, you could delay planting until later in the fall because whitefly populations begin to decline as temperatures cool off. However, this means you might have to make certain adjustments in your choice of plants and choose varieties that may yield better results in late fall.

Armed with these tips, it’s easy to take your fall gardening from “OK” to “amazing”.