Crisp temperatures… they’re finally here! This North Carolina summer seemed never ending with temperatures into the mid 80’s just last week. However, the fall vegetable gardening season is now upon us. And what better way to garden than with a low maintenance fall vegetable garden? Who has lots of extra time for pampering plants? Not me!
Between homeschooling the little gardeners, preparing for and teaching a grammar/writing class once a week, volunteering, and staying up on house work, there isn’t a whole lot of time for hands-on garden time each day. I’m all about a low-maintenance vegetable garden, and the fall is the perfect time for this. Even if you haven’t planned to have a fall garden, throwing one together in a weekend isn’t too difficult. Why is fall gardening easier?
- Less watering because the heat during the day is less intense.
- Fewer weeds and unruly grass; thank you mother nature!
- More greens and lettuces! They love the milder weather. Who says salad is a summer food?
- Easier on the gardener. No more sweating it out in the middle of the day. You can garden any time and be comfortable.
What to Grow in a Fall Vegetable Garden?
Obviously, cooler weather tolerant vegetables and greens are a great choice for fall gardening.
- mixed greens
- turnip greens
- mustard greens
- brussels sprouts
These are popular fall vegetable garden favorites. If you have a square-foot or limited space garden, here’s a great visual on the best fall companion plants. And if you want to take the guess-work out of planting your fall vegetable garden, check out my Fall Square-Foot Garden plans that can be printed and used and easily adapted to a traditional garden.
Our Low Maintenance Fall Vegetable Garden
Our fall vegetable garden is full of lettuces, greens, and brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, etc.), since that’s what our family loves to eat. We also still have some holdovers from the summer garden like eggplant (usually until November), onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno peppers. The marigolds we planted in the spring that grew mammoth-size are also still going strong. Those two little marigold plants have taken over four squares in the raised bed, and half of the walkway. (And I’ve even cut some back.) And the marigolds are still working hard at keeping some garden pests away!
Here’s our bed of Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage. (Our other marigold and eggplants are in the background along with what’s left of the onions.) Last year was the first year we’d tried brussels sprouts; they were easy to take care of and harvesting was a snap!
The red romaine has probably done the best so far, and the small greens next to it are “mystery greens.” I purchased the bag of “lettuce” seeds from our local hardware store and there wasn’t a whole lot of information on the bag, so we’re waiting to see what they yield! And if you’re going to grow your greens from seed, you’ll want to thin them at some point so the plants won’t have to fight for light and nutrients. Thinning not only helps your fall vegetables grow larger, but you can eat what you thin out! Think of them as microgreens from the garden.
Low Maintenance Fall Vegetable Garden Plans
Our complete vegetable garden plans are below, and since we use the square-foot method of gardening, I still have a few spots I could fill, perhaps with broccoli (though I do have a love/hate relationship with the cabbage worms I have to pick off those broccoli leaves!) or arugula. Update: Since using some natural methods of Getting Rid of Cabbage Worms, my problems with cabbage moths and worms are virtually non-existent! The peppery bite of arugula is one of my favorites for salads.
I’d love to know what you’re growing in your fall gardens this year! Whether you’ve got a row garden, raised bed, or container garden, fall is the perfect time to grow crisp, cool-weather crops. I occasionally give live garden tours on Facebook and Instagram, so follow me there to see what’s growing here at The Kitchen Garten. Have a great week and happy gardening!