With Fall officially arriving this weekend, you need to get things in order to plant your fall garden. There’s no better time to plant lettuce, spinach and other quick-germinating leafy greens from seed while other cool weather favorites will perform much better if you start them from seedlings. At this point in the growing season, broccoli, cabbage and kale will produce much more quickly and reliably if you use seedlings.
When growing from seed, pay careful attention to the package instructions. This is where you will find the average number of days to harvest. That information can be a tremendous help when you are deciding when you plant your fall garden from seed, as you can use simple arithmetic to determine when to plant based on the estimated date of the first frost in your area. The longer you have been gardening, the more reliably you will be able to estimate frost dates, but if you’re unsure when your estimated frost date is, there’s a handy-dandy chart on The Old Farmer’s Almanac website that will give you a good idea of when you might expect the first winter frost in your area.
If you are worried that you might be planting too late for your zone, you might consider planting in containers that can easily be brought indoors if a surprise frost shows up earlier than you expect. Alternatively, covering your plants with plastic or lightweight cloth can help your tender plants to make it through the cold nights so long as you remember to uncover them in time to soak up the morning sun.