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Best Vegetables To Grow in the Fall

As fall approaches, many gardeners pack up their rakes and shovels until warmer weather, but with the right seeds, you can harvest homegrown vegetables all year long. Your garden does not have to become scarce when the temperatures drop. Many crops thrive in cooler temperatures, making fall the perfect growing season for certain vegetables. Mid to late summer is the best time to plant these fall vegetables to guarantee a flourishing fall harvest.

Why Should You Plant Fall Vegetables?

There are numerous reasons you should plant fall crops. First, who doesn’t love homegrown vegetables all year round? By sowing seeds at the right time, you can guarantee an abundant harvest in every season, even winter. A backyard garden often does not have all of the pesticides most large farms and corporations use, which means your veggies will be fresh and healthy. Second, planting in mid to late summer (July to September) offers ideal conditions for seed germination. The soil is still warm at this point, which helps your seedlings grow faster. Lastly, with shorter days and cooler weather, you won’t have to water your fall garden as often – saving water, time, money, and sweat!

What Vegetables Can Be Planted in a Fall Garden?

Now it’s time to decide what seasonal fall vegetables to plant. Many cool-season crops can withstand light frost and freezes, such as various root vegetables and leafy greens. It’s important to find fall crops to plant that like cooler temperatures and mature quickly (seed to harvest in less than 40 days).
  • Beets, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, parsnips, radishes, spinach, and Swiss chard can survive light frosts around 30 to 32°F.
  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, rutabagas, and turnips can survive freezes down to 20°F.

To ensure these plants survive in freezing weather, cover them with an old blanket, sheet, or tarp when frost is expected. By protecting your plants from harsh weather conditions, you can extend their growing season and get more from your harvest.

When To Plant?

The timing of when to plant each crop is important to understand. Here is an easy way to calculate when to plant your fall crops:

  • Search the average first fall frost date in your area (it will be later in the year if you are in a warm climate and earlier in a cold climate).
  • Find the number of days it takes to harvest the crop you are wanting to grow. This can often be found on the back of the seed packet or with a quick internet search.
  • Use the “days till harvest” number and count back from the first frost date.
  • Count back another two weeks to account for fall. The days are shorter and cooler, which means plants will grow slower.
  • Now you have your planting date! You can always plant earlier, so consider this the last date to plant your crops.

Here is an example: If your first frost is typically around November 1 and you want to grow Cherry Belle Radishes, count back 21 days (their mature time), then count back another two weeks to account for fall, and you’ve got your planting date, which would be around September 27. Planting dates are dependent on your area, so make sure to tailor the numbers to where you are located and what you are planting.

A general rule of thumb for maturity time:
  • 3–6 weeks: Beets and radishes
  • 6–8 weeks: Fall cabbage varieties such as Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips
  • 8–10 weeks: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celery

Time To Get Your Hands Dirty

With your planting date figured out, you can begin planting. Make sure to remove any weeds or crops left over from the prior season. Add healthy, nutrient-rich soil or compost to your flower bed, and begin digging tiny holes to place your seeds.

After sowing, keep your plants well watered, especially during the warmer months. Once the plants are established, give them a deep watering about once a week. Also, check the leaves for signs of disease or insects that are eating your crops. Holes or spots are a common indication and should be treated as necessary.

It’s Harvest Season, Now What?

After patiently waiting months, you can now harvest your fall garden vegetables! Whether this is your first garden or the hundredth, you should be proud of the hard work you put into growing veggies. A garden takes a lot of care, time, and patience, but stick with it and you will be pleasantly surprised with the food you grow. Now it is finally time to enjoy your fresh fall produce.