A lot of people think the growing season ends with summer. However, you can create a container garden for edibles and other plants that thrive during fall. Many of the plants also possess the ornamental value we crave for our pots. We’ll show you how to create a container garden for your edibles.
Start with cool-season plants
Many cool-season plants are also spring favorites because they can tolerate low temperatures and bounce back. Pansies are a good example of an edible plant working in spring and fall containers. Read on to discover more plant suggestions.
Where to place containers
Group containers to aid harvesting and maintenance. By grouping pots, you can plant each with individual plants rather than a mixed planting. Pots with individual plants mimic a garden.
Grouping containers also makes it easier to toss protection over your plants if freezing temperatures threaten your landscape. Most of the plants can take a light freeze, but a hard freeze may kill some.
Use a cover, blanket, or sheet to protect your plants when needed. It’s best to tent these coverings above your plants. Do not use plastic sheeting, and if a hard freeze threatens, harvest as much as you can to eat or freeze.
Remember that the sun is lower in the sky in the fall and winter and that more sun is likely since trees and shrubs have lost their leaves. Most edible plants do best when grown in full sun, or about eight hours of direct sun a day. Group plants where you have the best light. Additionally, place pots where you have easy access to water. Although watering needs may be lower in the fall, plants still need an occasional drink to keep them growing and producing.
What to do with summer plants in the fall
Some annuals will carry over into the fall, such as Calibrachoa and Verbena. Although not edible, they tolerate cooler temps and continue to bloom. Compost or toss other summer plants to make room for your fall selections.
What kind of containers should you use?
If you are starting with a new container, select one with drainage holes. All-season material, such as fiberglass or heavy plastic, can survive winter temperatures. Fill containers with a high-quality potting mix. Potting mix is lighter weight than soil and drains better. Some potting mixes also contain plant fertilizers.
Where to get plants for fall containers
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsley, pansies, and Johnny jump-ups may be found in some garden centers, home improvement stores, and other retailers. The number and types of plants available will be less than what retailers have in the spring. To be sure to get the fall edibles you want, sow seed. Some plants are easy to grow from seed sown in midsummer for transplanting to a fall container.
You’ll also find ornamental cabbage and kale in garden centers in the fall. Although lovely ornamental plants, the leaves have a bitter taste. Use the leaves for displaying tempting food treats like appetizers. Ornamental cabbage and kale last well into the winter. If they look good, use them as natural ornaments in winter greenery.
How to care for edibles and plants in fall containers
Water containers when the top inch of soil feels dry. Mix a granular fertilizer into the soil when planting transplants or apply a water-soluble fertilizer after planting. Always read and follow label directions. If it’s a long fall season with moderate temperatures, the containers may need to be fertilized every few weeks to keep plants growing.
As with any garden, monitor plants for diseases like powdery mildew or beneficial insects like spiders. Spiders are good for your garden because they trap and eat troublesome bugs, like aphids. When caught early, controlling problems may be as easy as spraying insects off your plant with water. Always know what you have before you treat it.
How to harvest edible plants in the fall
Harvesting plants in the fall is the same as in the summer. Snip off leafy greens, starting with the outside leaves. Harvest broccoli as stalks or heads, and Brussels sprouts as stalks or individual sprouts. Snip off parsley, peas, and pansy flowers with scissors.
12 great edibles that thrive in fall containers:
*Pro top: The edibles marked with an asterisk are easy to grow from seed. Simply read and follow the seed packet’s directions.