Fall Planted Veggies
Who’s ready to grow some veggies this fall? Well, you might not be ready at this very moment, but soon enough you’ll be thinking, “Holy cow, my summer garden is done. What do I plant now?” And depending upon where you live, the answer is: A lot! The fall-planted veggie list is a long one, but as you know, we work ahead in the gardening world—so let’s get this thing planned out, okay?
You’ll first need to clean out your garden beds and make sure they are ready for planting. Now, every garden space is different, so we’re not suggesting that you clean out your entire garden and start from scratch. But certainly you’ll want to identify which part of your garden or which bed your fall-planted veggies will be planted in, and clean that baby out.
Old, dead, past-their-prime summer veggies? Outta there! Weeds? Pull ‘em! Soil needs refreshing? Mix in some compost. Smooth it all out, and now you’re ready.
Start with Your Average Fall Frost Date
Planting fall veggies is all about the timing, and that will vary according to your location. It takes a little bit of planning backwards to figure out when to plant, and if that sounds confusing, no worries. You know how when you throw a party, you start with the date of the party and then plan backwards to make sure everything on your list is done? That’s what we’re doing here.
Figure out what your area’s average first fall frost date is (that’s the party part of the analogy). Go to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, enter your zip code, and it’ll spit out your average first fall frost and your average last frost dates.
Now take a look at the seed packet of the veggie you want to plant and locate the “days to harvest” number, then count back that number of days from your average frost date and that’s when you plant. Here’s an example: Say your average first frost is October 29, and you want to grow some beets that take 55 days to reach harvest. Subtract 55 from October 29, and you’ll know to plant those beautiful beets around September 4. Easy peasy!
But here’s the thing: These are general guidelines that can be pushed a bit, and here’s how:
- If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 8–10 (learn more about hardiness zones here) where frost is rarely a thing, you can kind of plant when you want to without regard for those cold temps. And the rest of us are envious, just FYI.
- If you’re in a colder climate, you can definitely cover your fall-planted veggies with a frost cloth or row cover, or even grow them in a cold frame. This is a great method for extending your growing season.
- Many of these fall-planted veggies like carrots, radishes, spinach, cabbage and broccoli will do just fine with a light or a first frost (about 36 degrees) without protection, while beets, cauliflower, and lettuce can take a second or third frost without batting an eye. Not to mention, the frost causes many crops to produce more sugar, resulting in better flavor!
And you may wonder, “But what if I’m not planting seeds? What if I’m buying potted veggie plants from Easy to Grow Bulbs? When do I plant those?” While it may vary slightly, you can plant those about a month before your first average frost—and remember, all of our plants come with planting instructions for you!
Fall Planted Veggies
So what veggies can you plant in the fall? Many of your favorites like these:
- Root Veggies: We love root veggies like radishes, leeks, carrots, turnips, beets, and rutabagas, and fall is the perfect time to plant them.
- Leafy Greens: Who doesn’t love an instant salad? Plant kale, mustard greens, lettuces, collards, spinach, and Swiss chard to have a nonstop supply of healthy goodness.
- Cruciferous Veggies: Give it up for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Fun fact: Some of the root veggies and leafy greens mentioned above are also considered cruciferous veggies, which are members of the mustard family. Radishes, collards, kale, and arugula are some fall-planted veggies that span different categories but have one thing in common—they’re super delish and healthy!
Need tips for planting? Check out our Brassica Planting Guide for details on planting broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or cauliflower!
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- Katie Elzer-Peters