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what to plant now for a fall vegetable garden

I’M WATERING THEN SHADING the garden beds where peas grew fat and sweet until early July, when their time was done.  The heat and calendar told them to stop, but I’m carrying on—making the now-empty spot hospitable for something else by cooling the soil a bit so something delicious for fall harvest will be happy to germinate, and get growing. But what will it be? Perhaps kale or more amazing ‘Piracicaba,’ broccoli (above, for which I have seedlings started) or carrots, beets, and more green beans? Those are only a few of many possibilities for a sustained harvest, even here in the North.

WHEN TO SOW OR TRANSPLANT what is always the question, and so I am including some links by state or region at the bottom to factsheets that might help you with cool-season choices. The possibilities here would work in much of the Northeast and similar zones to my 5B, in a spot where frost is expected no sooner than late September or early October. You can push it a bit in slightly warmer zones than mine, and in the warmest ones all this happens in fall for winter harvest–plus you get a wider palette of crops (again, those factsheets linked below will help).

my possible july-august plantings, northeast zone 5b

And don’t forget: Leave room for your garlic! It goes in around October locally, and stays till the next July or August. How to grow garlic, my favorite crop of all.

hints for making late-season sowings

  • Don’t skip the prep: Do cool down soil by shading for a few days and moistening so seeds have a chance, in particular.
  • Select a variety that’s a shorter number of days to maturity than its peers, or rated for late-season growing.
  • Count back from frost date but add extra time to the calculation, since days are getting gradually shorter and cooler as fall plants mature. Don’t expect them to produce as fast as in warming, lengthening springtime days.
  • As cold arrives, have insulating fabric (and hoops in some cases) at the ready.
  • The later timing may slow things and require a little extra help, perhaps, but it’s also a benefit: Often you outsmart pests, who might be done multiplying, and some crops (greens, peas, crucifers) may taste sweeter when ripening in cool weather.

sample fall planting calendars and guides

I SEARCHED FOR REGIONAL calendars for fall vegetable sowings–or in the case of the warmest zones, that would be a fall-sown, winter-harvested garden. Note that MANY of these links will pop up as pdf’s, not web pages, as they are formatted that way by their expert creators. Also note that in some cases, the late-season information is far down the page, below the timing and how-to for spring, so keep scrolling/paging through.

more?