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The Fall Gardening Guide Part 1: Northern States

If you live in the north, you already know the main growing season is during the summer. But there are many vegetables you can plant now that will grow in the fall and into winter. Today, I’ve got some information about how to grow vegetables in the fall and winter if you live in a northern state.

Scout Out the Best Location

The first step to creating a fall garden in the north is to find the best location. Look for a place in your yard that receives the most sunlight throughout the day. Remember, the days of autumn get shorter, so you want your fall vegetable plants to get as much sun as they can.

Prepare the Ground

Make sure the location you choose for your garden has well-draining soil. Put down a light layer of mulch in your garden to provide an extra dose of nutrients in preparation for your veggies.

Planting at the Right Time

When it comes to planting a fall garden, timing is very important. You want to plant your seedlings about 30 days before the first frost. In addition, it’s a smart idea to choose vegetables that can flourish despite the frost. Some examples of cold weather vegetables include leeks, carrots, collards, parsnips, lettuce, and cabbage. Spinach is another vegetable that is great for growing in the cold weather. I like the thought of enjoying a delicious spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese even as the leaves are falling outside my window. Getting a planting calendar for your state can help you to plan out your fall garden. Plant vegetables that mature quickly so they have a better chance of surviving the dropping temperatures.


Water your vegetables thoroughly about two days before the first frost. This can reduce the stress your plants experience with the frost. Plus, the moist soil around your plants can hold more heat, which will contribute to the survival of your vegetable plants during this risky time.


There are things you can do to protect your tender vegetable plants during the cold season. One thing you can do is place a few planting stakes around your vegetable plants. Then, drape a sheet over the stakes to create a canopy. Be sure the edge of the sheet touches the ground but does not touch the plants themselves. Put a large sheet of plastic over the fabric sheet to keep even more heat inside. I suggest attaching the plastic sheet to the fabric sheet with wooden clothespins. If you have very tender seedlings that are struggling against the cool winds, give them some cover. Get a gallon plastic milk jug and cut the bottom off. Place it over your seedling and push the bottom edge of the jug into the ground. This will afford your seedling some sturdy protection.

Remember, just because the summer season is coming to a close doesn’t mean you have to stop your gardening activities. Get a plan for some beautiful fall and winter veggies!

In my next post, I’ll pass along some advice for growing autumn and winter vegetables in the southern states. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading. – Alan

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