If there’s anything that 2020 has caused an increase in within our family, it’s making our home more sustainable. Starting a backyard garden became a high priority when food shortages were on the radar. After realizing just how hard they work, I feel a much deeper sense of gratefulness to farmers. When I considered what our backyard garden fall planning might look like, I knew I wanted to do it right.
Our spring garden this year was almost a complete failure. We ended up with a handful of “cherry” tomatoes (I say that with quotations because they weren’t supposed to be tiny) and one itty-bitty strawberry. A lack of planning, planting too late in the season, planting the wrong plants for our region at the wrong time, and not having the right soil were all the main culprits.
Fall Garden Planning
Planning is something I am quite good at. However, being that I was only 3-4 months postpartum and trying to get a raised garden bed up from scratch, I put some things on the back-burner. Plans were not in the cards for me.
I was also super overwhelmed. I had a lot to consider when trying to plant things in a relatively small space. Companion planting can be especially overwhelming, and I didn’t think I could ruin too much if we just went for it without a plan. (If you know me well, this is so not like me, hah!) The lack of planning wasn’t so bad, but planting too late in the spring season and planting many of the wrong items was a deal-breaker. We definitely didn’t reap what we sowed.
Fall plans were going to be different, if I could help it. I spent an entire day making the plans for exactly what, where, and how many plants would go in each area of our fall garden. I researched companion planting, being careful to keep certain things away from others that don’t do well together. Then, I put my planning skills to the complete test with a dotted spread sheet.
Plans Might Change, That is Okay
Not everything went according to the plans I made. However, I learned something important while training as a birth and postpartum doula that comes to mind:
Having a plan doesn’t mean it is expected that everything will go accordingly. Instead, it is a means of learning what is to be expected. Planning helps us to gain options that we wouldn’t otherwise have.Author Unknown
This quote is well-suited for garden planning, too, it turns out! Having a plan doesn’t mean things have to go exactly as laid out. Life wouldn’t be very interesting if that were the case, would it? A full day of planning resulted in a lot of clarity and hope! I carefully carried my plan to our favorite local nursery when I was ready to purchase seeds and seedlings. I was able to avoid overspending and have another set of experienced eyes at The Arbor Gate to let me know I was on the right track!
Know When and What to Plant in Your Garden
Gardening rules are not one-size-fits-all. Nature is inevitably something that demands it be respected. If you have ever just “winged” it like we did, you might have experienced the same kind of disappointment we did.
Depending on what region you live, there are different growing seasons. Some places can accommodate year-round growing, and others need a lot more preparations to make that work. Here in the Houston area, we have been blessed with the ability to have both a summer and winter garden. You can read more about planting zones and find out what zone you are in by clicking here. If you’re local, The Arbor Gate also provides a downloadable Planting Zone specific to Harris County. I specifically followed this (loosely) while making my fall garden plans. From the advice of a few of the experienced gardeners there, I pushed back the dates due to the intense heat sticking around longer than anticipated. If I planted too soon, I could risk all of my baby plants burning up in the heat.
I also realized that many of the plants I randomly planted in very late spring were planted in the WRONG season entirely! It’s important to realize that kale is simply not going to tolerate heat and humidity. But, it will grow happily in a winter garden. My hopes and dreams of kale salad would have to wait. This encouraged me to get to work on our backyard garden fall planning.
Choose the Right Soil for Your Garden
We initially chose a raised garden bed organic soil to fill our raised beds with. Sadly, it didn’t seem to sustain our plants very well. I’ve since learned that many soils contain Peat. Not only is it bad for the ecosystems its removed from, it also causes a packing effect within the soil. Drainage becomes an issue, and it is completely unnecessary to grow plants.
After learning this, we chose to skip the typical bagged options from the store. This time, we chose a Peat-free organic bulk option from The Arbor Gate. So far our plants seem happy with the extra boost!
It was important to us to choose organic for a multitude of reasons. The main reason for this is to avoid the toxic pesticides added to our food products. We definitely did not want to put our organic seeds and seedlings in non-organic soil.
Fall Garden Planting List
Ready to find out what we’re growing in our fall garden this year? Here it is!
- kale – three varieties
- broccoli – two varieties
- golden potatoes (still need to plant)
- artichokes (replanting seedlings elsewhere once large enough)
- peppers – three non-spicy varieties
- basil (leftover from summer garden)
- strawberries (leftover from summer garden)
- carrots – three varieties
- lettuce – two varieties
- brussel sprouts – two varieties
- red potatoes
- cabbage – three varieties
- swiss chard
- beets – variety
- garlic chives
- bunching onions
Separate From Raised Beds:
- elder berry
- meyer lemon
- fennel – two varieties
Just Do It
It might seem daunting, and it’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s been worth every effort. Hopefully it will also be worth every penny when we have a thriving winter garden. I certainly hope that’s what happens!
Making plans and checking out specific details about your local area can certainly help make a successful garden. The learning process along the way is going to happen no matter how you start. If a garden is something you’re envisioning, I say just go for it.
I hope this overview of our backyard garden fall planning and planting has helped to inspire you to begin a garden of your own. Even if it’s simply a collection of potted herbs, that can be an exciting way to start. It’s a wonderful and affordable start if you’re looking for an easy way to save money on store-bought herbs!