With the calender quickly turning to August you might think you’re out of time for new plantings. But with a few quick crops you can fill in those empty garden spaces and your dinner plate before the season winds down. Planning for a fall harvest isn’t much different than selecting for a spring garden but you can simplify by picking some of these varieties:
Fall Planting Varieties: Bulls Blood, Early Wonder Tall Top, Touchstone Gold
Despite their delicate appearance carrots are actually pretty hearty little nuggets. They actually sweeten after a few frosts and can be stored in the ground all winter under a thick layer of mulch to prevent the ground from freezing. Carrots take forever to germinate and need constant moisture so keep watering the bare ground and mark the spot well so you don’t inadvertently plant over them or weed through them.
Fall Planting Varieties: Bolero, Napoli, Nelson
Greens – This is a catch all category for just about anything we grow for the leaves. This group is full of cold hardy, fast growing crops for salads, a stir fry or giant pot of soup. It’s hard to think about a hot bowl of soup now but come October you’ll be grateful!
Fall Planting Varieties: Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Tatsoi, Machê, Claytonia
Kohlrabi – With a 6 week turnaround and a tolerance for frost (most broccoli relatives are pretty cold hardy) you should make room for some of these funny looking veggies. This is a new one for us, I’ve got a row going right now for a September harvest.
Fall Planting Varieties: Kolibri is a purple variety ready in 45 days, other types take 55-60 days
More Information: Cornell Coop – Kohlrabi
Lettuce – The best times to grow succulent lettuce are the cool spring and fall months. The really short growing period (as few as 3 weeks for baby leaf lettuce) allow for succession planting for a constant supply of greens. It seems like there is an infinite number of lettuce varieties available.
Fall Planting Varieties: Winter Density, Ruby Sky, Defender
Radishes – As close to instant as you can get in a garden. Regular radishes are fully grown in as few as 22 days, they are easily staggered in plantings that span from the early spring to mid fall with a break during the hottest summer months. Special fall radishes require longer growing seasons and produce larger roots than typical spring radishes, give them around 50-60 days depending on variety.
Fall Planting Varieties: Watermelon/Red Meat, Black Spanish, Daikon
Spinach – Popular and fast growing spinach is great for last minute planting. There are even some varieties bred for winter harvest or overwintering for spring harvest. Spinach is frost tolerant and actually prefers cooler weather, hot days will cause it to bolt and throw up flower stalks. Baby spinach can be harvested in as little as 4 weeks while larger leaves usually take around 6 weeks. Keep soil well watered through the end of summer to improve germination in hot weather.
Fall Planting Varieties: Tyee, Bloomsdale Long Standing
Swiss Chard – The green that keep on giving. This is a hard veggie to hold back, they spring back after shearing (leave at least 2 inches to regrow) and take frost like a champ. Baby leaves can be harvested for salads and larger leaves can be added to soups or use in place of spinach in any recipe. Most types are ready in 25 days for baby leaves or in about 50 days for full size plants.
Fall Planting Varieties: Try Rhubarb for red stems and Fordhook Giant for white
Turnips – Fall is the perfect time for turnips, they have fewer pests and grow much sweeter than in the fall. They can tolerate a light frost meaning they’ll continue to grow after the tomatoes and peppers have said their final good bye. Turnips are a traditional root cellar crop that can feed you and your family all winter long. This year we even planted a few rows of forage turnips to supplement the chickens through the winter.
Fall Planting Varieties: Purple Top, Scarlet Queen
If you need help calculation your plant-by dates check out this handy calculator: Johnny Seeds Fall Planting Calculator All you need is excel and your first frost date. Another great resource for extending the gardening season is The Winter Harvest Handbook by Elliot Coleman. He utilizes unheated greenhouses in zone 5 Maine to grow crops all winter long for market.
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