Fall gardening is the greenest of pastimes—what better way to earn your fresh air than by putting a few more oxygen producers into the earth? As a bonus, you get to kneel down on still-warm ground that’s free of summer’s spate of bugs and pests. And it’s not just good for you; planting now gives grasses, veggies and flowers a head start on developing sturdy root systems that can carry them through next summer’s drought days—the warm soil from summer rays encourage a lot of underground action that keep them well ahead of spring’s newly planteds that are forced to face the cooler soils created by winter’s chill air.
But it’s not all about being industrious and planning for next year. Many hardy veggies and flowers can sprout in just a few weeks, extending your yard and fresh table enjoyment time well past Halloween in temperate climates. Spinach is a great choice, and given the e coli scares of late a safer bet to grow yourself. But don’t go all overzealous Popeye and pull up the whole plant; by harvesting only the top leaves, you leave the root system intact to sprout again next spring. Rutabagas, broccoli and brussel sprouts can flourish in fall too. And don’t neglect your salad bowls—escarole, endive and arugula all grow fast and eat great in autumn.
More interested in adding color to your yard than your plate? Try pansies. Though sweet-looking, the hardy viola tricolors can bloom even in the snow. Chrysanthemums and marigolds are fall standbys for good reason—they know how to grow in cooler temps (and make great homecoming boutonnieres). Want a little more pop and edge in your yard trimmings? Opt for showy red salvia instead.
HGTV pinpoints the fall planting sweet spot as sometime in September or October—a little earlier for Northern green thumbs, later for their Southern counterparts. The only must is getting them in the ground before Jack Frost’s first ETA.
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