Planning a Fall Garden in Hampton VA

Planning a Fall Garden in Hampton VA

September in Hampton VA is the perfect month to start dreaming up what your fall garden will look like. Actually, September is a little late, but I usually am when it comes to keeping up with my garden.

Currently, my four by four raised bed consists of weeds and one massive rhubarb plant. My mom is visiting right now and helping me clean things up, so we are going to get this garden started for the fall season. I’m planning to harvest the rhubarb stems so that I have a clean slate to start with and then mixing in some compost and soil. This step is important for this area.

For those of us who live in an area where Fall and Winter bring mostly rain or where there is a large percentage of clay in the soil, it’s extra important to make sure that your raised bed has proper drainage by chopping at the natural soil line under your garden and mixing your added soil into the natural soil thoroughly. I learned this the hard way my first year here. The rain just stayed trapped inside my raised bed all through the Winter and rotted my plants.

Here in Hampton, we fall in the 8a hardiness zone and our first frost doesn’t usually come till mid to late November. While we do miss out on a white Christmas, this means that I still have time to plant in mid-September. I can look for crops to start now that need anywhere around two months or less to mature. Other options for mild winters are long lasting crops, that will overwinter and be ready in early spring.

I’m planning on picking out a bit of both. This is the best part. Companies like Burpee’s and Johnny’s Seeds have a huge selection of crops to look through. I’m going to go with some of my easy favorites, because I’m expecting this baby in October and I’m planning on being a lazier gardener than usual.

Radishes are my first choice. They are a great fast and easy crop. They don’t take up much room and don’t need much food (I didn’t feed mine at all last spring).

My next pick is carrots since they are another space saver. Carrots usually need good, deep soil and have a longer growing season, but there are some cute, short varieties that grow fast and don’t need as much depth to the bed.

And the last three crops are going to be my overwinter crops. I’m planning on garlic, shallots, and green onions. Both the Garlic and Shallot toes need to be planted from mid-September to mid-October and stay in the soil until spring. The green onions are a fast crop, that may last the winter, but will still give me a harvest sometime in late November.

The next step is deciding on how to arrange them. The bed sits up against a fence, so I need to make sure that the taller crops are in the back and the shorter ones are to the front, to make sure that they all get enough light. Usually I plant in rows, but since my garden is so tiny I’m going to try a new pattern this year. I have five crops, three of which are going to overwinter, so I’m going to do four quarters, with the one crop in the very center. The carrots and radishes are going to be in the front, because they are small, fast crops and the other three might get some winter protection from the fence.

So, there’s the plan. I guess we will see how that goes. If everything works out I should have green onions, carrots, and radishes for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas.

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