Grow Your Best Fall Garden Vegetables: What, When and How

For gardeners wanting to get the most from the time they have, here’s expert advice on planting and growing fall garden vegetables.

| August/September 2009

  • Growing cabbage
    Cooler temperatures will make your fall vegetables taste crisp and sweet. You will harvest the best carrots, broccoli, red cabbage, beets, and kale after the first frost is long gone.
    WALTER CHANDOHA
  • Fall harvest
    Filling garden space vacated by spring crops with summer-sown vegetables will keep your garden productive well into fall, and even winter.
    LYNN KARLIN
  • Growing carrots
    Carrots are another good option for the fall garden.
    DWIGHT KUHN
  • Fall broccoli
    Broccoli is a cool weather crop and will do well in the fall or spring.
    DWIGHT KUHN
  • Growing beets
    Colorful beets thrive in the fall.
    DWIGHT KUHN
  • Growing greens
    Frosts and early snows will improve the flavor of fall greens.
    DAVID CAVAGNARO
  • Growing kale
    Consider making leafy greens like kale a part of your fall garden.
    DWIGHT KUHN
  • Fall garden vegetables
    Even with colder weather coming on you can grow a gorgeous, thriving garden in the fall.
    WALTER CHANDOHA
  • fall garden vegetables - autumn produce
    Start a fall garden this summer and you’ll be able to enjoy homegrown produce at winter holiday meals.
    PHOTO: LYNN KARLIN
  • Cut and come again broccoli
    Cut-and-come-again broccoli plants can keep producing.
    DAVID CAVAGNARO

  • Growing cabbage
  • Fall harvest
  • Growing carrots
  • Fall broccoli
  • Growing beets
  • Growing greens
  • Growing kale
  • Fall garden vegetables
  • fall garden vegetables - autumn produce
  • Cut and come again broccoli

Right now, before you forget, put a rubber band around your wrist to remind you of one gardening task that cannot be postponed: Planting seeds for fall garden vegetables. As summer draws to a close, gardens everywhere can morph into a tapestry of delicious greens, from tender lettuce to frost-proof spinach, with a sprinkling of red mustard added for spice. In North America’s southern half, as long as seeds germinate in late July or early August, fall gardens can grow the best cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower you’ve ever tasted. In colder climates it’s prime time to sow carrots, rutabagas, and turnips to harvest in the fall. Filling space vacated by spring crops with summer-sown vegetables will keep your garden productive well into fall, and even winter.

Granted, the height of summer is not the best time to start tender seedlings of anything. Hot days, sparse rain, and heavy pest pressure must be factored into a sound planting plan, and then there’s the challenge of keeping fall plantings on schedule. But you can meet all of the basic requirements for a successful, surprisingly low-maintenance fall garden by following the steps outlined below. The time you invest now will pay off big time as you continue to harvest fresh veggies from your garden long after frost has killed your tomatoes and blackened your beans.

1. Starting Seeds

Count back 12 to 14 weeks from your average first fall frost date (see “Fall Garden Planting Schedule” below) to plan your first task: starting seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale indoors, where germination conditions are better than they are in the garden. Some garden centers carry a few cabbage family seedlings for fall planting, but don’t expect a good selection. The only sure way to have vigorous young seedlings is to grow your own, using the same procedures you would use in spring (see Start Your Own Seeds). As soon as the seedlings are three weeks old, be ready to set them out during a period of cloudy weather.

If you’re already running late, you can try direct-seeding fast-growing varieties of broccoli, kale or kohlrabi. Sow the seeds in shallow furrows covered with half an inch of potting soil. Keep the soil moist until the seedlings germinate, then thin them. The important thing is to get the plants up and growing in time to catch the last waves of summer heat.



When is too late? The end of July marks the close of planting season for cabbage family crops in northern areas (USDA Zones 6 and lower); August is perfect in warmer climates. Be forewarned: If cabbage family crops are set out after temperatures have cooled, they grow so slowly that they may not make a crop. Fortunately, leafy greens (keep reading) do not have this problem.

2. Think Soil First

In addition to putting plenty of supernutritious food on your table, your fall garden provides an opportunity to manage soil fertility, and even control weeds. Rustic greens including arugula, mustard, and turnips make great triple-use fall garden crops. They taste great, their broad leaves shade out weeds, and nutrients they take up in fall are cycled back into the soil as the winter-killed residue rots. If you have time, enrich the soil with compost or aged manure to replenish micronutrients and give the plants a strong start.

Trollhair
7/29/2018 6:49:38 AM

Rule#1 Never ever buy vegetable plants from Walmart. Rule #2 Only buy non GMO seeds and plants. Heirloom preferably.


Trollhair
7/29/2018 6:49:37 AM

Rule#1. Never ever buy vegetable plants from Walmart. Rule #2 Buy only non GMO seeds and plants.


darlenemarquardt
7/19/2018 7:59:38 PM

I planted cauliflower and cabbage in the spring with my other plants.. cabbage is doing fine but the cauliflower went right to bloom.. Now that I've read up and learned more about gardening than I knew before, I wanted to plant more cauliflower now (mid july) so that I actually have cauliflower. BUT my local garden center (Wal-Mart unfortunately) no longer has any and will not be getting any more plants in. In fact what they did have (tomatoes and gone to seed spinach) will be taken away. Not good. Obviously Wal-Mart doesn't understand fall gardening either.







Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters