Though our warm summer days are coming to an end, our days of picking fresh vegetables from the garden don’t have to end when the temperatures drop. Fall vegetables are considered cool season vegetables, which means that they will thrive under these growing conditions:
- Daytime temperatures between 60° and 80° F (the cooler the better).
- Nighttime temperatures above 40° F (a light frost is usually okay).
- 6 hours of sunshine per day.
- Rich, well-draining soil.
- One inch or more of water per week.
Vegetables that Do Well in the Fall include:
When to Plant Fall Vegetables:
In most areas, fall vegetables are planted in August or September, for harvest through October and November. However, unlike spring planting, the fall garden is a race against time, so you have to calculate carefully to be sure your plants won’t be killed by freezing weather before they produce.
You can start planting fall vegetables as soon as daytime temperatures average below 80º F, and you can continue planting as long as they will have time to mature before the first frost and freeze. If you live in a region that doesn’t freeze, you can grow cool-season vegetables until temperatures begin to rise above 80° F in the spring.
Know Your Frost Date:
The first step to planning a fall vegetable garden is to learn your average dates of first frost and freeze. Frost dates for your area can be found in the Farmers’ Almanac. In addition, your local agricultural extension service should have more detailed local information.
Once you’re armed with your local frost and freeze dates, planning your garden is as easy as counting backwards on the calendar. Your veggies should be planted so they will mature before the first frost, and provide most of their harvest before the first heavy freeze.
Most plant and seed labels include information on “average days to maturity,” so you can choose vegetables that will be ready in time. Some cool-season crops mature in as few as 30-40 days while others can take several months to produce.