Extending The Growing Season
With A Fall Vegetable Garden

Many gardeners with large in-ground gardens do not have a fall vegetable garden. Many give up on their gardens about the end of July. The excitement of spring and summer gardens has lessened, Many crops have been harvested, it is hot outside, and the weeds have taken over. It is just to much work!

That is less likely to happen with the raised bed backyard garden.

  • The garden is small, and we have been taking care of it all season. 
  • We are still harvesting vegetables as they ripen to prepare for our evening meals. 
  • August is the time we excitably look forward to for a fall vegetable garden.

Fall vegetable gardens are comprised of the same cool weather plants we put in our spring gardens. But now the growing will be turbo-charged.

We find the first average frost date for our area and plan the date to plant each vegetable accordingly.

The ground is already warm, but daytime temperatures are beginning to cool. Exactly as these cool weather plants like it.

Root Crops For The Fall Vegetable Garden

Plant beets outdoors 3 weeks before the first frost. Beets take 8 weeks to mature from seed to harvest. They are resistant to fall frosts. Plant in rows 4 inches apart. Pre-soak the seeds and plant ½ inch deep.

The seeds are actually a cluster of 2 or 3 individual seeds, so when the sprouts are about one inch tall, cut off all but the strongest in each hole. You can plant a few each week for a continuous harvest.

A last crop of carrots can be planted in the fall. This is the time I like to try a new variety. Time from seed to harvest is 10 weeks, so plan accordingly, Water continuously until they are almost mature, then cut back on the water so that the roots don't crack.

If your summer potatoes are finished, you can replant up to 12 weeks before frost. If you used the straw bed method, just pull the straw aside, pull the old plant and put a new start in.

Fall is the time to put in the wonderful daikon radishes. I like the ones with long white roots, but there and other varieties with different colors and shapes. These take longer to mature than the little red radishes, so allow about 60 days to harvest. Space the seeds a little farther apart, maybe 5-6 inches. Water well until the root starts to grow, then cut back some.

Fall turnips will be tastier than those which matured in warmer weather. Plant a few about 60 days before frost, mid-August in many time zones. 

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Cabbage

These cole vegetables  take 16 weeks from seed to harvest. Seeding directly into the soil is the easy way to grow fall broccoli and Brussels sprouts . If you live in an area where July and August are extremely hot, it is probably better to start indoors and set out when it is cooler.  Brussels sprouts that mature in hot or dry weather will be flimsy and bitter.

Plants should be 12 inches apart in your raised beds. Keep the soil consistently moist.

Salad Greens

Chard, kale, Chinese cabbage, and collards are about 8 weeks from seed to harvest. All are fairly cold tolerant, even lasting the winter in the southern growing zones. Plant ½ inch deep, 4 inches apart. Water often for luxurious leaves.

Lettuce can be planted through the end of August in most areas. It will sprout in 5 to 10 days.

A fall spinach crop can go in around the end of August also. It matures in one to two weeks. Keep both crops evenly moist until shoots appear.

Don't Forget The Peas

A fall crop of green peas can be planted about 6 weeks before the first frost. Make little rows 3 inches apart. Poke holes in the soil one inch deep, 3 inches apart, and drop a seed in each one. Cover and pat the soil gently with your hand. Provide a trellis.

In the southern growing zones, your fall vegetable garden may extend into a winter garden. Some crops that may last into or through the winter: carrots, chard, collard greens, lettuce, parsley, and spinach. 

Further extend your growing season with cold frames and hoop covers.

See the Farmers Almanac for succession planting.

Return to planting guide

See Spring Garden and Summer Garden


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