Regardless of how your summer garden is going you can still put bushels of food in your pantry for the winter with a great fall garden.
Fall is a pleasant time of year to spend time outdoors working and harvesting.
When many gardeners are pulling up their crops, tossing the scraps to the chickens and storing their tomato cages for next year, I am digging in the dirt and sowing seeds for a fall harvest. If you aren’t ready to stop growing food yet this year –
Come join me! Let’s plant some fall crops!
On your mark.
The fall garden is a bit more tricky than the spring or the summer garden. You are on a race against the frost. You must get your plants in so they have time to mature and give you food before winter shows up and murders them all. You also must get your plants in late enough that they won’t be scorched by the summer sun and die before germinating.
The fall garden is a bit tricky – but a pleasant change from summer. The weeding is easier. The harvesting is cooler. The crops stored for winter are fresher.
Here’s some great crops to consider for your fall garden that can bring success with ease. Except for spinach – it’s a pain. But your climate may be perfect for germinating and growing spinach! So don’t let me dissuade you.
Plan a Fall Garden – 15 Crops for a Fall Harvest
#1 Fall Garden Crop: Kale
This stuff is indestructible. It is easy to grow. It’s basically a weed packed with unbelievable nutritional powers. Kale is amazing. Direct sowing is tricky in fall because its just too hot to get the seeds to germinate. I have been successful direct sowing, but much of that is weather and luck and not skills or planning. If it’s cool enough you’ll be able to grow kale from seed in your garden. If our fall is too dang hot, your seeds will germinate next spring. 🙂
Planting: For best results – Plant Seedlings: July 17- August 31.
#2 Fall Garden Crop: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
I have great luck with these in fall here in Kentucky. Not only are these winners, they keep for months in the refrigerator. I have served my family (much to my children’s dismay) cabbage from the garden in late December.
Planting: Plant Seedlings: July 17 & August 31
#3 Fall Garden Crop: Cucumbers
Who knew? Cucumbers are fab because they germinate fast. They grow quick. You’ll have flowers and baby cukes in no time. I usually get 3 plantings of cucumbers in each year. One in spring. I sow another crop in July and a last sowing in August for a fall harvest. This ensures plenty of pickles for the winter.
#5 Fall Garden Crop: Sugar Snap Peas or English Peas
I must confess that I don’t have great luck with peas in the fall around here. I do get a crop but it is a tiny fraction of what I get if I sow seeds in the spring. This, of course, doesn’t stop me from trying. We LOVE sugar snap peas fresh from the garden. They freeze easily and well for winter stir fry.
Growing potatoes is an amazing experience. I haven’t met a child who doesn’t love to dig potatoes. It’s like digging up buried treasure. You can grow potatoes for a fall crop, but plan on harvesting smaller potatoes. You may get a few bakers, but most will resemble “new potatoes.” Which are amazing.
No, I don’t grow this. But, I hear it’s easy. If you want to grow garnish this is the time.
Planting: Plant seedling: August 1 – September 15
#8 Fall Garden Crop: Cilantro
Many people are surprised to find out that cilantro is a cool season crop. It flourishes in spring and fall. It will shrivel and die in the heat of summer (exactly when you want some cilantro to go in your homemade salsa). How to make fabulous salsa here.
I have been known to dig up my cilantro and stick it in a pot before it bolts and seeds and dies. My potted cilantro is currently living on my kitchen counter in front of a window. When the days get below 200 degrees (LOL), I’ll plant my cilantro back in the herb bed. Until then, I snack on it while I do dishes.
Planting: plant seedlings August 31 – September 30
#9Fall Garden Crop: Dill
Another herb that can’t stand the heat. Well, it’s not as much of a wimp as cilantro, but dill does much better in milder temperatures. Many people can keep dill around all summer by planting it in the shade. Dill is a great addition to the fall garden – You’re probably gonna want some dill to go with those pickles.
Planting: plant seedlings August 31 – September 30
#10Fall Garden Crop: Spinach
Good luck with this one. Sorry, I don’t mean to be a downer…. I’m a realist. Spinach is high maintenance. If you can’t see to it that your spinach babies have the perfect environment for germination, it won’t grow. On the other hand, you never know….. the stars and planets could all align perfectly and give you baby spinach all the rain, sun and cool temps it wants. If you want to give it a whirl – go for it! I always try. Sometimes it comes up beautifully, sometimes not.
Growing beets is fun. My youngest daughter LOVES to grow them. They are kind of like giant radishes. They germinate fast. They get huge. They taste like carrots. Very colorful carrots. If you pickle them like me, they will taste like bread & butter pickles (how I do it here). Oooh Baby. So yummy…. and so good for you.
Truly, you can plant these any time you want. I have not yet met a radish seed who did not become a radish. Hot, cold, wet, dry, you just can’t stop a radish seed from becoming a radish in the state of Kentucky. They are crunchy, sweet, spicy, juicy and wonderful. I like them best straight from the garden. I do roast them, fry them and bake them – but nothing beats a fresh radish.
I must say that I don’t ever wait until the suggested date to throw out some lettuce seeds. I never really stop growing lettuce. It may stop germinating. It may start bolting. But I never stop sowing. When there is an empty bed, or an empty row, or an empty corner – I love to toss in some lettuce seeds. I buy them by the bagful so I can sow as often and as plentiful as I want.
Yes, If I am out of turnip greens, mustard greens will do.
Planting: direct sow: August 31 – September 30
#15 Fall Garden Crop: Turnips
I have no idea why anyone would grow turnips….. oh wait, yes I do: TURNIP GREENS! Turnips are forgiving and easy and huge and everything you can expect from a horrible tasting root. Sorry. Thanks to my 101 days of growing my own food I have learned that turnips couldn’t taste worse. I have also learned that turnips grow into giant bowling balls in a remarkably short amount of time. I have more turnips in storage from my spring planting than I ever want to eat in my lifetime. BUT the greens are magically delicious. So, I may grow them again….. the pigs can have the turnips. I’ll eat the greens.
Planting: direct sow: September 15 – October 15 (I have put them in the ground in August & had success)
#16 Fall Garden Crop: Garlic
No fall garden is complete until the garlic goes in. Of course, this isn’t really a fall crop because you won’t be harvesting it or eating it until next summer, but it’s time to get the cloves in the ground. Plant 4 inches deep. Plant a month before the ground freezes (usually around Thanksgiving around here). Leave it alone until next summer.