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Broccoli is a common crop planted in fall gardens.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—As summer turns to fall, many gardeners are still enjoying the benefits of their homegrown fresh fruits and vegetables. The season’s change does not mean tasty food and honest work must stop now. Fall gardens are a wonderful way to get outside and stay active when it is cool.   

Cooling Off 

One of the many benefits of having a fall garden is the coolness of the fall compared to the heat of the summer. This is a benefit for those who want to work outside and have a garden but should not be out in the heat and sun during the summer. Cooler weather also means the ability to plant distinct types of crops.

“Cole crops are the most popular and well-known group of cool weather veggies,” said Dani Carroll, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent.

Carroll said in Alabama the most common types of cole crops are cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale just to name a few. She also said onions, strawberries and garlic are popular fall garden plants as well.  

Easy Transition 

Fall gardeners know it is easy to take a summer garden and prepare it to grow fall crops.  

“We can use the same area that we used for our warm-season veggies,” Carroll said. “Gardeners may need to rejuvenate the area by weeding, adding more organic matter if needed and fertilizing for the new growth.” 

However, Carroll said there can be a significant difference in planting times between the northern and coastal areas of Alabama. It is safe to plant seeds in August and transplants can be added to gardens over the following weeks.  

Many of Alabama’s fall crops are hardy and can withstand the relatively mild winters of the south. This makes for a great spring full of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of store-bought products.  

Pesky Pests 

Fall gardens are more enjoyable because of the cooler weather, but pests can still be a problem if not managed properly. Insect populations are greater during the fall than in the summer. This means gardeners should take different measures in the fall to protect their products.  

“With our cool season crops, we usually harvest the foliage, roots and flower buds, but we are not harvesting the fruit,” Carroll said. “This means that row covers that exclude pest insects will also exclude pollinators, but pollinators are not necessary for foliage and root harvest.”  

More Information 

For more information about starting a fall garden, visit www.aces.edu.   

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