Fellow gardeners and greenies, in most parts of the country fall doesn’t have to be the end of your gardening or food production. In more northern areas double walled hoop houses well anchored and heated by a rocket mass stove can give you year round production (you build it yourself, fueled by twigs). Building a Greenhouse Rocket Stove https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCp7dQPwdkA .
For those who have a lesser frigid climate, just covering your beds with 3.5 or thicker plastic sheeting (clear or white, never black) and held up from crushing the plants with on-their-side-tomato-cages works great.
I have had a winter garden for 10 years here in NE Georgia, in frigid weather, snow, very low temperatures. Here’s the trick – start your seeds NOW – it’s mid Sept. and time to get those seeds started.
Once your summer plants are dead, or some are and there’s room to put some fall/winter plants in, get started. Before planting, give the soil some good nutrients with compost, worm manure, well composted manure from pigs, chickens, horses, or cows, or goat, sheep, or alpaca manure which doesn’t need composting. Dig in your amends, don’t till (which forces weed seeds to germinate).
Look at your seed packets and determine which are cool weather plants or go to this site: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/…/vegetables-fall-garden… There are lots of sites which help you pick fall/winter plants besides this one. Pick food you will eat and enjoy.
I have discovered such an easy way to propagate seeds using the least amount of purchased stuff. I get free paper fliers from local grocery stores – just the right size to make newspaper pots. They are usually in single rectangular sheets. I fold them in half lengthwise, then roll them around a wine bottle so there is enough to fold around the bottom of the bottle and make a base. The top gets taped so the tape folds from front to back to secure the top. The bottom gets folded around the bottom of the glass and secured with more tape. Into this gets a good handful of good quality potting soil. Then I sprinkle a pinch of seeds around the top and sprinkle a bit more soil over it depending on what the packet says for depth of seed. I gently compress the soil, label it with cut up blind sheaths (they are UV protected and last a long time) and written on with pencil (they are reusable that way). I set them together on used seed flats on my back deck and water well. They get watered every day. Don’t let them dry out.
When they start to germinate, I give them a bit of liquid fertilizer like diluted compost tea. When they get a second set of true leaves (the first set are not true leaves) I get out the seed cells, fill them with planter soil and individually give each one it’s own cell. I keep them damp but not mushy, and every week or so they get some mild fertilizer.
As the weather cools or space opens up in the summer crops, I set in the plants big enough to hold up on their own. I watch for bugs because baby plants are susceptible to critters. I hand pick. Mulch heavily as soon as the plants are tall enough not to be buried to keep them cool – fall and winter plants like it cool.
I personally put in beets, carrots, garlic, Swiss chards, lettuces, spinaches, oriental greens of many kinds, flat leaf parsley, Calendula, broccoli, cabbages, bok choy, kales, and other cabbage family plants, and if there is time for some late summer, bush beans.
Some plants are particularly cold resistant including parsley, all kales, cabbage, broccoli, and if you like them turnip greens, collards, and other traditional greens.
Good luck. Enjoy food all year around from your garden.