Fall Crops to Plant

As many of us wrap up our gardens for the year, we’re also creating empty patches in the soil. Believe it or not, there’s still time to plant and get another harvest out of your garden!

The days and nights are getting cooler, so this is where ‘cool crops’ come into play. These veggies can be seeded into your garden as soon as the soil is ready, though they will take a little longer to germinate and grow if it’s cold out.

Three keys to success in late-season vegetables are: knowing your remaining growing days, making the right plant selection, and ensuring proper plant placement. Each of these are discussed below.

Knowing your remaining growing days

Here’s the calculation:

And here’s a sample calculation, as at September 1st:

  • Hard frost date of November 1
  • Subtract the current date of September 1
  • Subtract 10 days
  • Equals a maximum 51 days-to-maturity

Making the right plant selection

Here’s the criteria to make the right plant selection for this time of year:

  • Choose only those plants that can thrive in lower temperatures. Fall weather is unpredictable, so it becomes essential for your garden to endure low temperatures.
  • Use only frost-tolerant plants in case your garden gets hit with early frost.
  • Select part-sun plants since the days are getting shorter and the sun is lower in the sky.

As a result, the only plants that are eligible for an early September planting are those with a short time-to-maturity, can survive a light frost, and prefer low light. This may seem restrictive, but you’re still left with some great options:

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Chard
  • Collards
  • Lettuce
  • Mache
  • Mustard Greens
  • Radish
  • Spinach

Each of these vegetables can withstand a light frost while still growing, and some will increase in sweetness after a frost or two. In the fall we can also plant garlic for harvest next year, but don’t start them until at least mid-October.

Proper plant placement

Now that you’ve calculated your remaining growing dates and have selected the appropriate plants, it’s time to choose the best spot in your garden to plant for fall success. Here are our tips:

  • Find the areas in your garden that allow for the sun being lower in the sky – buildings and fencelines will throw their shade further as the autumn progresses.
  • Look for higher areas such as raised beds, which are less susceptible to frost than low-lying areas.
  • Try to darken the soil by adding compost or mulch to enable it to hang onto warmth from the sun, thus lengthening your growing season.