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Plan for Your Fall Vegetable Garden

There’s no better way to extend the vegetable growing season than by planting crops that thrive in the fall and winter. With the fall growing season upon us, it’s time to plan your late-season vegetable garden, and purchase the plants you intend to harvest in the coming months.

Plan Your Fall Vegetable Garden

Planning Your Fall Vegetable Garden

The key to fall gardening is knowing the approximate date of the first killing frost in your region. Also, plant crops early enough that they reach full maturity before the first frost.

Check with your county’s extension office or local gardening experts for information about planting times and crops that do well in your area. Most southern regions in the United States are better suited for winter crops, while growers in northern regions tend to rely on protective structures, like cold frames, hot beds and greenhouses.

Depending on what zone you live in, you might find any number of these in a fall vegetable garden: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bush beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, endive, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips and more.

Find the planting and care information you need on the plant tag or seed packet.

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Late-Maturing Crops (approximately 90 days to maturity)

Plant late-maturing crops by mid-July for fall harvest, or later, for spring harvest.

Leaf Crops

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Fava Beans
  • Cauliflower

Root Crops

  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Globe Onions
  • Rutabagas
  • Beets

Midseason Crops (approximately 60 days to maturity)

Plant the following midseason crops by mid-August.

Leaf Crops

  • Early Cabbages
  • Winter Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Perennial Herbs
  • Swiss Chard

Root Crops

  • Leeks
  • Early Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi

Early-Season Crops (approximately 30 days to maturity)

Early Season Crops

Plant the following early-maturing crops by mid-September.

Leaf Crops

  • Broccoli
  • Leaf Lettuces
  • Mustard Greens
  • Spinach
  • Cover Crops (alfalfa, clover, winter rye, etc.)

Root Crops

  • Radishes
  • Scallions
  • Chives

Fall Vegetable Planting Tips

  • Keep a planting log. Record what you planted and when, as well as what succeeded or failed.
  • Experiment with planting times. It might be worth the risk to plant some crops later than recommended.
  • Plant fall and winter gardens in full sun (southern exposure is ideal) to make use of all that free solar energy.
  • Rotate vegetable varieties. Don’t plant the same crops in the same location as you planted them last season or last year. This drains the soil of nutrients and attracts the same insects and diseases to that part of the garden.
  • Try successive plantings of quick-to-grow / quick-to-harvest items, like spinach, beets, radishes, bush beans, carrots and leaf lettuces.
  • Take advantage of walls and other structures that block wind from your garden. Wind-breaking structures can add 10°F to 20°F to your growing environment. 
  • Cover crops fortify the soil with nitrogen during the idle winter months. They also make great green organic matter to add to the spring compost mix.

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