Many summer/spring plants sown in early July to August are ready for harvest in fall. Fall harvest plants are fast-growing, cool weather loving plants that mature just before the first frost. Container gardening widens the horizons of what’s possible for gardeners to plant as we approach winter, allowing you to create favorable conditions for the plants to thrive in cooler weather.
Here’s how to judge when you should start planting for a late fall harvest, especially if you live in colder regions: consult your local farmers’ almanacs for an estimate of your frost date, and then count backward 70-100 days, giving 2-4 weeks allowance for weather fluctuations. That’s a general idea of when to plant so vegetables and tubers have time to mature so you can enjoy an extended harvest.
Fall harvests can start as early as 30 days after sowing seeds, depending on what you’re planting: you can even start harvesting leafy vegetables when small leaves are tender. Stagger your planting schedule (plant vegetables in succession over a few weeks) to get continuous harvests as they mature at different times.
Your late season crops will depend on what you planted in summer, but these are the most common fall harvest vegetables and even tubers as a guide for your garden:
1. Basil: Basil is a fast-growing herb that matures in 30-60 days: just before the first frost.
2. Radishes: Radishes mature in 30-60 days. You can dig up your radish harvest as they mature, up until the soil freezes. If you plant in containers, you have the extra advantage of a longer harvest if you overwinter your plants.
3. Broccoli: You can start harvesting broccoli in 50-60 days after planting, even less depending on the species. Their cold-hardiness is one reason broccoli is popular in winter salads
4. Cabbages: Cabbage loves cool weather, so you can anticipate a late fall/early winter harvest if you seed 70-90 days before your first frost.
5. Brussel sprouts: Thinking of a winter vegetable that won’t perish as soon as it gets cold? Think Brussels sprouts. They mature in 90-100 days and will tough out temperatures as low as 20°.
6. Spinach: Spinach matures within 35-45 days and survives light frost, making them a perfect vegetable for overwintering. With consistent conditions, you can stagger your spinach plants and harvest through to the next season.
7. Beets: Beets are the perfect cold season harvest. They mature within 50-60 days and survive the low 20s of the cold season, so you can plant them late in summer.
8. Lettuce: Lettuce is one of those vegetables that tastes better grown in spring or early fall when temperatures are cooler. They mature in 40-60 days and can survive early frosts.
What are you harvesting this fall? Share your garden bounty with us on the blog or on our Facebook community.