Here in N Florida, it's time to plant your fall food garden, now through the end of October. When most folks think garden, they think spring: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, peppers, etc. While I do love tomatoes, the fall-- here in Jacksonville-- is the most pleasant and bountiful season to grow! In the fall you can grow salad greens like lettuce, arugula, spinach; cooking greens like collards, kale, mustards; root crops (other than potatoes) like turnips, carrots, radishes, beets; the garlic/onion family of crops; and many herbs (other than basil) such as parsley and cilantro, which actually do better in the fall than spring.
But let me back up. Beyond the greater range of fall options, why do I love growing food in the fall? It's simple really: less bugs, less heat, less work, more production, all the while looking gorgeous!
Heat and bugs go together. As the temperature goes down, so do the number of bugs trying to eat up your garden. And, as the heat drops each passing day, it becomes more and more pleasant to check on and harvest from your food garden, so you're more likely to actually benefit from what your garden produces.
There's less work in a fall food garden than in a spring/summer garden because none of the fall crops require staking and tying; plus there are fewer weeds sprouting.
In terms of production, you get far more per square foot in the cool season than you will in the warm season. For instance, in a square foot in a warm season garden if you grow green beans, you'll likely yield a handful or two. In the same space in the fall, you could yield as much as 12 heads of lettuce.
And then there are things like kale and collards! Plant them once and harvest for six to seven months! It's easy to yield at least 5-6+ bunches per plant, a value of $2-3 each. Largely due to to the fall season, I was able to grow 400 lbs in my 80 square foot food garden, a total value of roughly $1600 of organic produce.
Last but not least, all the fall crops "stay in their place" so to speak; they don't vine or climb* all over the place, so you can count on a more manageable, kempt-looking garden. (*Okay, Sugar snaps do climb and like a trellis, but they don't go all over the place.)
For all these reasons, I love growing in the fall!
To help you plan your fall food garden, here's my planting guide that outlines raised bed plant spacing and seasonal crops for food gardening in N Florida. Also, since your garden is still likely a hot mess from what's left of your warm season garden (especially on the heals of Hurricane Irma), here's a little how-to video about cleaning up for the next season.
If I can support you in growing food for self and neighbor this fall, let me know. I offer full service food gardening support services here in NE FL and can support food gardeners in other places remotely via live-stream video conference food gardening lessons and Q&A consultations.
#GrowYourGroceries - with Overalls Support
Nathan Ballentine (Man in Overalls)
Urban Farmer, Entrepreneur, Educator, Community Organizer
Growing in Jacksonville, FL