How To Keep Gardening Into The Fall

By Mary Ellen Ellis | October 6, 2021
Image by Lana2011
by Mary Ellen Ellis
October 6, 2021

Fall arrives for a gardener with mixed emotions. I can finally slow down a little and I have fewer chores, but I also watch the garden go dormant. Some of my favorite flowers are gone and foliage is beginning to yellow and die back. I’ve discovered a few tricks over the years to keep it all going a little longer though. 

Transition to Hardy Fall Plants

One of the ways I keep my garden thriving into the fall, even as late as the end of October, is to switch to plants that tolerate colder weather. Potted geraniums give way to hardy mums in fall colors. As my impatiens die back, I put in pansies.

Some perennials also do well this time of year. Sedum, or stonecrop, darkens into the fall and tolerates the cool nights. I haven’t tried New England aster yet, but one day I will. I know it does well in the fall and provides a pretty purple color for beds. 

For pretty fall foliage, I love ornamental kale or cabbage. They’re not that tasty, but they look so pretty and unique. My favorites are bright purple at the top. They stay attractive even after a few light freezes. 

Planting Hardy Herbs

Another way to extend my garden into the fall is to grow some of the hardier herbs. I love growing herbs because of their culinary uses. Many tasty herbs thrive in the cooler conditions of fall: parsley, oregano, chives, sage, and mint.

Successive Planting

Although I don’t currently grow food, from past experiences I know that planting in succession can give you an extended harvest. Start early with cool weather vegetables, like lettuce and radish, and seed every few weeks until the hot days of summer. 

Get these hardy vegetables back out for fall and reseed another few times for harvests well into the season. You can keep going until it gets too cold, and the seeds don’t sprout. The timeline may vary by year because of changes in the weather.

Bring Plants Indoors

Container plants can come inside in the winter. I have grown lettuce indoors to get a continuous harvest throughout the season. I have done the same with herbs. Now that I have cats overrunning my house, this isn’t as feasible. However, if you don’t have hungry critters, a sunny window is all a small container garden needs. 

The garden can’t last forever, but if you can extend it a little or for some plants, you’ll get more enjoyment out of it. 

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