How to Plant a Fall Garden
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A well-planned fall vegetable garden can keep your season going well into the cooler months. Depending on your location and the tools you use, your garden could last right up through December!
The key to a successful fall garden is good planning. You need to know what to plant at what time, and create open spaces for those veggies to be planted. We do this through succession planting. We plant crops that we know will be cleared out by mid-summer in specific section. We can then re-plant those sections of our garden later in the summer for fall harvested veggies.
HINT: To make your fall garden last even longer, consider building a covered raised garden bed. This easy cover can help protect veggies from early light frosts and cold temperatures.
What Vegetables can you Plant in the Fall?
Vegetables that you can plant for a fall harvest will have two important characteristics: a shorter growing cycle and short-day tolerance (in other words, they will grow in a shorter number of days, and they will continue to grow as days get shorter).
Most vegetable seed packets will let you know if they can be planted for a fall harvest, but a few of our favorite veggies for a later garden round include:
- collard greens
- head lettuce
- mesclun mix (baby greens)
- baby kale
When to Plant Fall Crops
There are two pieces of important information that will help you to plan out your fall garden: the average date of first frost, and your USDA Hardiness Zone. Luckily these things are very easy to figure out:
- Find your average date of first frost from the Farmers’ Almanac here.
- Find your USDA Hardiness zone by zip code here.
Once you have these two pieces of information, you can calculate when to plant your fall vegetables by figuring out the number of days needed before your average first frost.
We use a method suggested in the Mother Earth News Guide to Vegetable Gardening: planting date = first frost date – (number of days to maturity + 10 days to account for shorter days in the fall).
Free Fall Planting Scheduler!
To make it easier for you, we’ve drafted this fall garden planting scheduler with some of the most common fall crops. Print out the scheduler, fill in your date of typical earliest frost, and use the calculation method above to figure out when you need to plant your fall vegetables.