Fall Vegetable Garden Planning: Choosing the Best Plants for Autumn Growing

How to Plan a Fall Vegetable Garden

August 2, 2019

Rate this Video: 

Average: 4.1 (251 votes)

Plan a fall vegetable garden! See how to choose the best plants for autumn timing—and more fall garden planning tips.

If you already have a garden, one of the best ways to make your garden more productive is to keep planting to make the most of the space you have. As gaps appear when you’re harvesting, fill them with vegetables that will grow well into the fall.

When to Plant Fall Vegetables

  1. The time until the expected first fall frost is the time left in the growing season in your location. Some crops need more time and are not suitable for fall planting.  Check our Frost Calculator for first fall frost dates.
  2. Then check the “days to maturity” on seed packets. If the seed package doesn’t specify fall planting, the general rule is to add two weeks for fall (versus spring) because there is less direct daylight in autumn and soil temperature is different.

Which Plants to Choose

Follow our 3 simple groupings and you’ll be harvesting tasty vegetables right into the winter. 

(The video demo shows pictures of all these vegetables!)

Group 1 – Warm Soil Sprouters

When grown as fall vegetables, these crops will germinate rapidly in surprisingly warm soil as long as they are kept moist. Sow seeds directly into the ground, just before a period of wet weather is expected if you can. Crops to sow in this group include:

  • peas (make sure that you choose quick-growing dwarf varieties),
  • beets,
  • collards,
  • kale,
  • leeks (which sown in fall may only reach pencil size before winter comes), and
  • radishes.

Group 2 – Start Cool and Transplant

These crops sprout best when soil temperatures stay below 70ºF, but if you wait until the soil cools to plant them, they may not have enough time to mature. Start seeds indoors or in a shady place outside and set out the seedlings as soon as they show their first true leaf. Try growing these crops:

  • Chinese cabbage (such as bok choy),
  • endive and escarole,
  • radicchio,
  • lettuce,
  • parsley and
  • spinach, which can be sown indoors in early fall, and later to be grown through winter beneath a protective frame for harvesting in early spring.

Group 3 – Sow When Soil Cools

Signs of autumn are often apparent by the time the soil cools enough to grow the leafy greens that define many fall vegetable gardens. Cool temperatures tame flavors, so many gardeners wait until after a frost or two have passed to harvest some of the crops in this group. Try growing:

  • Arugula,
  • cilantro,
  • winter varieties of lettuce,
  • mache (also known as lamb’s lettuce or corn salad),
  • mizuna, and
  • turnips, which produce both greens and crunchy roots.

Not all vegetables are suited for fall gardens. But we hope this helps you understand which vegetables are best for fall!

Using the Garden Planner for Fall Planting

If you are interested, plan out your crops on the Almanac Garden Planner. We have many handy features .

  • Use the Garden Planner’s filter to find plants which are suitable for growing in your area in the fall. Click the Filter button (to the left of the plant selection bar), and check the ‘Suitable for Fall Planting/Harvesting’ button. You can then choose the plants you want, and add them to your garden plan.
  • Also, work out where to place your fall crops with the Succession Planting feature. Set the dates that your crops will be in the ground by double-clicking on a crop to show the Plant Edit box. Then select the months that your plants will actually be in the ground. By viewing your plan for a particular month, you can now see where there will be gaps left behind after other crops have been harvested. It’s then easy to add crops to these areas to grow in the fall.
  • Alternatively, if you have very hot summers and would like to create a whole new plan for fall, just click the New Plan button, select the Follow-on Plan option, alter the plan name, and roll back the year to this year. 

Try our garden planner for free for 7 days here!  This is ample time to play around, plan your first garden, and see if you like the tool!

Related Articles:
Find more advice on fall gardening from the Almanac gardener:

720x480-gardening.jpg

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Fall Veggies.

What in the world are endive and escarole and radicchio? Never even heard of them and I'm an old country boy that learned stuff from Paw-Paw Burnett, and I don't think even he would know what these are. haha

buying garlic to plant

what is a good variety of garlic to plant and also how early can I plant my greens, collards and turnip?

Buying garlic to plant

There are so many varieties of garlic it's hard to pick one variety. Softneck types are slow to bolt and produce the most number of cloves, but are quite sensitive to extreme cold, so best for milder areas. Hardneck types are much hardier, so more cold tolerant, and they also produce tasty 'scapes' (flower heads) which are great in stir-fries.

Greens, collards and turnips can all be sown/planted from now, so long as you can supply enough water to keep them quenched. They will start producing a good crop from early fall.

Fall collards

Can I cut my current collard plants back to get a growth for fall OR do I need to plant new for fall collards. Thanks

collards

I would plant new plants.I live in South Carolina and collards planted in March have burned up by July.We now have many sources of fresh plants.Watching our temp and when we get down to highs of 80 dgs. I will start putting plants out.First frost date app. 2/3 week of November.

Fall collards

Hi Luke. You can carry on picking individual leaves of collard greens from your plants for as long as the plant keeps producing them. When the plants eventually bolts (flowers) then new leaf production ceases. Collards are a cool-season crop, so if you have very hot summers then sowing new plants in late summer for fall planting and winter harvesting is a good idea. Otherwise, in more northern gardens, you can sow from early summer to plant out in late summer/early fall for harvesting fresh leaves all fall and into early winter.

Fall garden

This will be my first attempt at planting a fall garden. This video makes it look so easy.

Fall gardens

In South Carolina Z 8A Fall gardening is drop dead simple.You don't have to fight the heat, pest, most disease.Check your area for what you can plant and go for it.
In S.C. we can plant; collards, spinach, all cole crops - see Google if you need , carrots and more.We are very lucky, these crops will last, in garden, until Springtime. We can pick as we need during Fall and Winter.
Backyard source of many fresh veg. from November to March.
Yes, we are lucky!!
Rick

FREE BEGINNER'S GARDEN GUIDE!

BONUS: You’ll also receive our Almanac Companion newsletter!

The Almanac Webcam

Chosen for You from The Old Farmer's Store