Easy Ways to Extend the Growing Season into Fall


How to keep your garden vegetables producing

Keep your garden vegetables producing longer! Here are easy ways to extend the growing season—so that you can keep eating those garden-fresh veggies throughout the fall. None of these techniques is rocket science but if you apply each, you’ll be able to keep the harvest coming. Learn more.

1. Keep Up With The Picking

If you have those zucchini to keep growing (to swell into marrows) slows down the production of new flowers and fruits.

Green beans will also stop making new pods if the existing ones are left on the plant after maturity. By forming seeds, the plants will have completed their lifestyle and have NO reason to keep flowering.

Check plants every couple days now and remove all fruit and pods before they get too large or over-ripe. If you’re going away from home for more than a few days, ask your neighbors to harvest them. they’ll get free food and you’ll come home to more pickings!

2. Keep Watering! 

All vegetables need water but fruit and pod-producing vegetables are particularly thirsty. Water-stressed plants quickly slow down and reduce production.

Water regularly for consistent soil moisture to help plants continue to produce plenty of well-formed fruits and pods, free of problems such as blossom end rot. If will also avoid the annoyance of fruit splitting, which happens when they have dried out too much and then receive a sudden deluge of water.

3. Don’t Scrimp Now on Feeding Your Crops!

Continue to water with a suitable organic liquid fertilizer on to hungry fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant every week or two to insure more fruits of better quality.

Feeding plants cost money but it does mean more fruits at better quality. If you’ve come this far, the investment is well worth it.  Or, why not make your own liquid feed from fast-growing nutrient-rich plants such as comfrey. See how to make your own fertilizer from weeds.

4. Top Up Mulches  

Mulch is an organic material applied earlier in the season and it may look a little worn or scant. But you can top off that mulch now with more natural options. Straw that’s free of seeds is a great mulch for many fruit-bearing crops such as strawberry beds. It’s naturally full of potassium which fruit and pod-bearing plants love. 

Grass clippings are a ready-at-hand mulch, too. It’s plentiful during the summer and will help keep roots cool and moist during hot, dry-weather.

5. Reduce Shade

Strong growth over the summer months can mean that taller plants cast shade over small plants that need sunshine to grow.

Consider cutting back any overhanging foliage, and remove spent crops promptly so that those that remain can bask in sunshine and enjoy good air circulation.

In cooler climates, now may be the time to wash off or remove any greenhouse shading to trap more of the late summer sunshine.

6. Keep Plants Warm 

Later on in the season, plants can be persuaded to keep cropping for a week or two longer using a floating row cover or horticultural fleece. Remove covers during the day to enable pollination and replace it in the evening to keep plants cozy. 

7. Keep Planting!

If you plant a different crop after another crop is harvested, this will not only give you more to harvest but it will cut back on pests and weeds which can’t get a foothold. Repace summer crops with fall crops. See our Fall Planting Calendar for your zip code.

Successive planting is the best way to stretch the harvest over a period of time. For example, sow radishes once a week, not all at once. Sow salad greens every two weeks. Sow early, mid, and late varieties of the same plant or seed different varieties of the same plant and they’ll mature at different times.  Learn more about succession planting.

Plant fast-growing veggies among slow growers. By the time the slow growers need more room, the fast growers are done and gone. This is a great way to grow cool-season veggies into the warmer months. Shade created corn and vertical crops (such as climbing beans) allows you to grow radishes and lettuce in warmer weather.

8. Remove Rotting Plants and Debris

It goes without saying that you should not leave debris, diseased plant material, nor rotting leaves in the vegetable bed. This encourages more pests and stress on the plant—which will slow or stall its growth.  Do your housekeeping and take care of your garden by keeping it clear of both weeds and dead plant material. You’ll have a better harvest.9.

9. Plan Ahead and Save Seeds

Not only does this save money, but also plants successfully grown in your garden from year to year will become acclimated to your particular area, and will therefore do better than seeds originating elsewhere. Store seeds properly in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Note: Only non-hybrid seeds are good for seed saving if you want the plants to be true to their parent. Learn how to save vegetable seeds.

10. Start Seeds Indoors

We’re thinking ahead here, but get a two- to three-month jump on next year’s planting season by starting seeds indoors. Seeds that you start yourself grow much faster in the soil versus store-bought transplants. It’s important to use grow lights as winter window-sill light isn’t enough. A whitelight fluorescent tube will cost you much less than a nursery grow-light if you can’t afford grow lights.

None of these techniques are exactly rocket science, but by applying each you’ll almost certainly be able to eke out more from your fruiting and pod-producing vegetables—and others for that matter. How do you keep your pickings coming? You can let us know by dropping us a comment below.

Did you this advice helpful? Discover the online Almanac Garden Planner for more expert tips on garden planning and growing!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

No content available.

Anne Studley (not verified)

5 years 9 months ago

Thank you for this informative video. Will letting a few beans stay on the vine to produce seeds for next year's planting while picking all of the others still cause the plant to stop producing and start to die?

When some pods are allowed to reach maturity the plant assumes its work is done as it has produced the next generation of beans, so it won’t continue to produce lots of pods. 

The best way to save seeds is to pick the strongest plant (i.e., with good genetics which work well in your garden) and save seeds from that one plant, letting all its pods reach maturity. Then harvest all the beans from the other plants so that they keep producing.