Many people think of gardening as a spring and summer activity. But in most regions, you can plant vegetables in late summer for a fall harvest. To be successful, you should know which growing zone you’re in. You also need to know when is the first average frost date in your area. Some cooler weather crops can withstand a light frost. Others should be picked before frost to prevent damage and inedible produce.
Timing is key for a successful fall garden
Some crops don’t do well in the extreme heat that many areas experience in late summer. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your growing zone and average temperatures in your area to know when to plant. Root vegetables can often survive light frost conditions and some are better planted in the fall for next year’s harvest. Garlic is one plant that does well when planted in late summer and it’s ready for harvest next summer before you plant your summer crops. Kale, chard, and many other greens can be planted and harvested before frost kills them. Some can withstand heavy frosts and you can always use plant covers to extend your plants through late fall or early winter.
Seeds or plants?
Some plants mature quickly and others take significantly longer. If you’re planting seeds directly outdoors, look for seeds that have a shorter time to maturity like peas, radishes, and baby greens. They can be planted late in most growing zones and will be ready for harvest long before the first frost. Late summer can also be a good time to start some seeds indoors, especially for plants that don’t like hot weather. Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can be started indoors in late summer so you can plant them outdoors once the weather turns cooler. They can withstand some cold temperatures and some types will survive a light frost.
The key to fall gardening is being aware of the conditions based on your growing zone. There are many hacks that allow you to extend the growing season so you can harvest more from your garden. Plant hardy crops that grow quickly. Many greens and some root vegetables grow better in cooler temperatures. Whether you’re planting seeds directly in the ground or starting some plants indoors, there’s no reason to stop growing food well into the fall season.