Planting for Fall: A Garden Awaits

Curious about fall planting? Your geographical location plays a significant role in determining what to plant during late summer for a bountiful harvest throughout the colder months and sometimes even into spring.

But what exactly are cool-season vegetables? They thrive best when daily temperatures hover below 70°F and their seeds can sprout in soil temperatures as chilly as 40°F. Some even develop a richer taste after exposure to frost.

Before diving into fall planting, consider the following:

  • Which planting zone are you in?
  • When can you anticipate the first frost?

Continue reading to decode these queries. So, why delay?

Understanding Your Location

The veggies you opt for to plant in the fall garden are largely influenced by your residence and the corresponding hardiness zone of the plants.

The USDA Hardiness Zone map splits North America into 11 distinct zones, each gauged by the average annual minimum winter temperature, differentiated in 10-degree Fahrenheit increments. Refer to this map to pinpoint your zone. This assists in identifying plants best suited for your region.

Predicting the First Frost Before Planting for Fall

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, established in 1792, is a trove of various tidbits, from recipes and gardening tips to weather predictions and even future trends in diverse fields. It also provides details about expected frost dates based on zip codes. As a rule of thumb, adjust these dates by two weeks to accurately predict planting times.

For instance, in Zone 7b, Enumclaw WA, the anticipated first frost is on October 31. So, for a vegetable like radish that matures in about 21 to 30 days, planting by October 10 would be ideal.

Decoding Seed Packets

Seed packets are miniature guidebooks. They offer insights about the specific vegetable, such as its maturity period and the suitable planting zone. By comparing the vegetable’s zone with your region, you can ascertain its compatibility.

Work backward from the expected frost date to figure out the optimal planting time. If it’s too late for seeds, pick up some starter plants and transplant them during early fall.

Watch your garden come alive in the splendid fall ambiance, and be ready to harvest your produce before the chill sets in.

Cool-season Vegetables: Frost-Resistant and Frost Sensitive

The list of cool-season vegetables can be divided based on their frost resistance. Some remain unaffected by frost, while others can be impacted.

Resistant to Frost:

  • Arugula: Also known as Rocket, this plant matures in 40 days and is ideal for salads.
  • Broccoli: A healthy option that matures in 50 to 72 days.
  • Brussels Sprouts: These tiny cabbages mature in 45 days to several months.
  • Cabbage: Requires 45 to 70 days to mature.
  • Collards: Flavor intensifies with frost and takes 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost to plant.
  • Fava Beans: These multipurpose beans can be sown in September-October.
  • Garlic: Best planted in fall and harvested in summer.
  • Kale: Hardy and ornamental, maturing in 50 to 72 days.
  • Kohlrabi: A unique vegetable harvested during winter and spring.
  • Leeks: Require 75 to 125 days to mature.
  • Peas: Though better in spring, they can also be sown for fall harvest.
  • Radishes: Quick growers, maturing in 21 to 30 days.
  • Spinach: Enjoys cooler weather, maturing in 40 to 60 days.
  • Turnips: Best after frost, taking 30 to 60 days to mature.

Sensitive to Frost:

  • Beets: Versatile and can be harvested throughout winter.
  • Carrots: Sweetened by cold, taking 55 to 110 days to mature.
  • Cauliflower: Prefers cooler weather, maturing in 45 days to several months.
  • Celery: Requires 90 to 135 days to mature.
  • Lettuce: Quick and easy to grow, maturing in 21 to 75 days.
  • Swiss Chard: Takes 60 days to mature.

Final Thoughts

Extend your gardening season by opting for cool-season vegetables and edible blooms. Your choices will be governed by your zone and frost predictions. And remember, some veggies remain frost resilient, offering fresh harvests even during winter. If you want to plant in containers, read about the best vegetables to plant.

What’s in your fall garden? Share with us in the comments!

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