Fall Vegetable Gardening
Whether you’re a veteran veggie gardener or just starting out, fall is an amazing time to plant veggies. If spring is king, then fall is surely the queen. But fall veggie gardens don’t just happen on their own—a little bit of planning is necessary, and we’re here to show you how.
What Veggies Can I Plant in the Fall?
What can’t you plant? That may be a better question. Certainly, warm-season favorites like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra won’t do well in the cooler temps, but there’s a lonnnnngggg list of veggies that absolutely adore the crisper air. It’s like they’re waiting to pull on their sweaters and go to football games—they are All. About. The. Fall.
Kale Mustard greens Lettuces Collards
Spinach Swiss chard Broccoli Cauliflower
Brussels sprouts Cabbage Radishes Carrots
Turnips Beets Rutabagas Leeks
How Do I Prepare the Garden?
You’ll want to start new and fresh, so plan to spend an afternoon (with a helper if need be—make those kids earn their keep) to get things ready:
- Remove anything from your summer garden that is dead, dying, or otherwise gasping for breath. They’ve done their jobs—say a quick gratitude mantra and pull ‘em out.
- Dead plants go in the compost pile; diseased plants get thrown out.
- Amend the soil with compost if necessary.
- Do a quick check-up on your irrigation system if you have one (drip irrigation is perfect for veggies).
- Tidy everything up. Okay, this one’s not totally necessary before planting, but doesn’t it make you feel good?
Can I Grow from Seed or Do I Need Transplants?
If you plan far enough ahead, you can grow from seed, but otherwise you’ll need to get your hands on 4” or larger transplants. Read the seed packet information to determine how many days from planting that you can expect your first harvest, then count backwards from your first average frost date.
When Do I Plant?
This depends entirely upon where you live. In cooler climates, you’ll be planting veggies mid-summer in order to have a fall harvest, while in warmer areas, you’ll plant in fall and even throughout the winter. Talk to experienced gardeners in your area or consult your county extension office or trusted local garden center—the latter two often have planting charts for what to plant and when.
In general, you’ll want to get those fall veggie transplants in the ground about one month before you expect your first average frost, so know that date and count backwards from there. Plant too early and it may be too hot for the cool-loving veggies to grow, but plant too late and you may not get a harvest at all. It’s a timing thing.
Tips for Newbie Veggie Gardeners
Gardening is all about trial and error. Even experienced or lifelong gardeners are always learning new and better ways to garden. If you’re completely new to vegetable gardening, may we suggest the following to help you along?
- Start out small. Resist buying one of everything, or 100 plants. You’ll feel overwhelmed, and an overwhelmed gardener usually equals a not-so-great garden. Choose a few of your faves, get their care down, then add in a couple more varieties each year.
- Research ahead of time. Not all veggies are created equal. When you’ve nailed down what you want to plant, look up what those plants’ needs are. Do they have a particular type of bug that you’ll need to watch out for? How much space do they need? How long do they take before you can harvest?
- Know how you will maintain your veggie garden. Do you have a water source nearby? Where are your tools stored? Is it all convenient?
- Keep your garden closer to the house. The farther you have to walk to get to your garden, the less tempting it is to go there.
Need more inspiration and growing/planting tips? Read our blog post “Fall-Planted Veggies.”
- Jenny Peterson