Grow Fast-Growing Fall Salad Crops


How to Grow Quick Late-Season Salad Crops

Grow quick-growing fall salad crops!  We share the best late-season salad crops—and more useful tips.

Though temperatures are starting to cool and the amount of daylight is reducing you can still harvest plenty of fresh food from your garden if you choose crops which mature quickly.

Quick-growing salad leaves can still be sown in late summer and harvested before the season’s over. The fastest can be ready in just four or five weeks and, if given some shelter from winter weather, may carry on producing leaves continuously until spring.

Best Late Season Salad Crops

Oriental salad leaves such as mustards, tatsoi and mizuna

Winter varieties


Mâche, also known as lamb’s lettuce or corn salad

American/land cress.

How to Sow Late Salad Leaves

Choose the sunniest spot you have available and lightly fork the soil over. Rake it level. Create drills spaced about 12 inches apart and sow thinly into them. Cover your seeds back over with soil, and water them well. Germination will be fast in the warm summer soil. Once the seedlings appear, thin them in stages until they’re three to four inches apart.

Alternatively, you can sow late salad leaves under cover into plug trays or small pots. Fill plug trays with potting soil then sow two to five seeds per cell. Cover them with more potting soil, and water them. Once the plants have filled their cells, the seedlings can be transplanted into prepared soil. Allow about nine inches between plants in both directions. It’s a good idea to put down beer traps in strategic locations to reduce slug damage.

Planning Late Salad Crops

Our Garden Planner can be used to show you what can be sown in your region now. The software uses data from your nearest weather station to provide personalized sowing and planting dates for your location.

To quickly see what can be sown now, click the Filter button then select the ‘Suitable for Fall Planting/Harvesting’ option or a specific sowing and planting month. Click OK and the selection bar will then show only salads and other crops that are suitable for sowing at that time.

To make it easy to see where you have space to grow your late season salad crops, double-click on plants in your plan and mark which months they’re in the ground. You can then view your plan month-by-month to see where gaps appear.

Caring for Late Salad Leaves

Water your late season salad crops if the weather is dry. Pick leaves regularly once they’re big enough, harvesting just a few outer leaves from each plant at any one time. This gives the remaining leaves the chance to grow on and replace them.

Growth slows down as temperatures cool and light levels fade. Use coverings such as a cloches or row covers over your salads to keep them growing for longer. Or, grow your late season salads in a cold frame or greenhouse border.

Salads in Containers

Leafy salads can be grown at slightly closer spacings in rich potting soil in containers. Containers must be kept regularly watered in dry weather, especially terracotta pots which are prone to drying out. Raise pots off the ground to help limit slug attacks.

Find more tips and tools to grow your own food easily! Get a free trial of the Almanac Garden Planner.

About The Author

Benedict Vanheems

Benedict Vanheems is the author of GrowVeg and a lifelong gardener with a BSc and an RHS General Certificate in horticulture. Read More from Benedict Vanheems