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Fall Planting Dates

By the time late summer rolls around, many gardeners are ready for a break.  Others, though, like to zip on into their fall garden.  Fall gardens have historically given me heartbreak --- I either plant them too late, or the deer eat them down to the ground in that critical phase while they're building up maturity to prepare for the frost. 

This year, I worked to solve at least the first problem.  I took a Master Gardener class a few years ago and ended up with a wonderful 600 page reference guide which I am constantly flipping through as I search for information.  I've reproduced one page of it below.  (This version is actually from a factsheet called "Fall Vegetable Gardening" which you can download for free from the extension service website.)

Fall Planting Guide

In case you haven't used one of these charts before, it deserves a few words of explanation.  First you have to find out what your area's average first frost date is --- for us it's October 10.  Write "10/10" (or your frost date) above the "00" at the top of the chart, then each column to the right of that date is 10 days after the first frost date and each column to the left of that date is 10 days before the first frost date.  So, for me, fall bush beans should be planted between June 2 and July 2 and can be harvested from August 1 to the first frost.

As you can see, now that we feel the first signs of fall, it's too late to plant anything except mustard.  However, don't lose heart if you haven't planted a fall garden --- there's always cold frames!  (More on those later --- lettuce in cold frames is one of my favorites!)



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