Fall Garden Prep

harvest basket

harvest basket

This week is the perfect time to begin planting for fall.  Now that I type that out I realize that maybe last week was better, but I’m at least a week behind in all matters these days. So, in the spirit of embracing the present, it’s still a great time (almost perfect) to plant.

When planning your fall garden consider planting and or sowing at least 4-6 weeks before the first frost.  I’ve got some flexibly in Santa Barbara because our first frost isn’t expected until January— don’t hate me because my weather’s beautiful.

raised bed

Gone are the leggy stragglers, make way for the parsnips!

Summer veggies often drain your soil  – those tomatoes in particular really suck the soil of all those valuable nutrients. After clearing your beds of past-their-prime summer plantings, be sure to add some “good stuff” back into your soil. I like Harvest Supreme from Gardner & Bloome because it’s filled with organic crap (I’m being literal here, folks!) and things that help improve drainage. With gardening, it’s always a matter of chance on what’s going to really thrive, but if you start out with good soil you can stack the deck in your favor.

potting station

Photo by Evan Janke

Here are some new fall seeds I’m planting now— I often buy Botanical Interests seeds because they offer the plant varieties I want and the quantity of seeds is perfect for a small garden. Yes, I’m totally stoked on vegetables, can you blame me?



I became obsessed with this cabbage-like veg (Brassica Oleracea if you want to be fancy) last year after my trip to The Purple Pig in Chicago. The bulb is such a flavorful and crispy add-on to a salad, sauté, or snack—you can also eat the leaves like you do spinach or kale, making it a two-for-one veggie. Kohlrabi is both super nutritious and odd looking, which is just a weird enough combination to make me want it, bad.


Parsnips are sweet, flavorful, full of potassium and antioxidants and my husband hates them. I try to plant things that my whole family will enjoy, but that would leave me with a garden full of carrots and corn. If I can get half the family to eat something, I’m planting. Like carrots, these guys have a long growing season.

Broccoli Romanesco:

A family favorite, this is delicious and sweet with hints of nutmeg when cooked. It’s not really broccoli, it’s not really cauliflower, it is fantastic. Romanesco boasts an interesting spiral head, gorgeous chartreuse color and huge bonus, it’s super easy to grow in our climate. Winner, winner, Romanesco for dinner.

Bloomsdale Spinach:

This is my all-time favorite spinach. I discovered this at the farmer’s market last year and was hooked. Totally delicious raw or cooked, it’s got great crunch and texture and is less tannic or pithy than other types of spinach. I’m a little giddy thinking of having it in my own garden this year.

brassica oleracea

We grew broccoli romanesco in our school garden last fall.