If you live in zone 5b as I do, then August is your golden month for planting a fall garden. This is your last chance to get your planting on and have a harvest before the chill of winter sets in. If you’re picturing planting a second round of tomatoes then I need to be the bearer of bad news. This isn’t a free for all and there are only specific crops that this endeavour will allow. That said, being able to have a second garden of any sort is a win in my books.
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One of the main key factors, outside of choosing the right veggies, is the length of time until your first frost date. Just keep in mind that determining this date is art, not science. It could come earlier or later, so if you have a variety that won’t be ready a bit before that date it could be a bit dicey. That said, all you have to lose is a seed or two, so it’s almost always worth the risk! You can look up your first frost date for Canada here and for the USA you can find your first frost date here. Once you know that date you can grab yourself a calendar and figure out how many days are left. Or if you want you can defer to Siri or Google and ask “How many days are left until XXX (insert your frost date here).
Once you know how days you have left to work with then you can shift your focus to determining what varieties to grow in your fall garden. You are going to want to focus on plants that either grow quickly or those that are frost tolerant. So let’s take a look at some of the contenders for your fall garden. Then you can decide which if any you want to go and plant! Let’s hope the fall chill holds off so we can all get our second harvest in.
I’m pretty sure this is the most durable vegetable ever. It can even overwinter (just cover it up) on occasion, so it is a prime candidate for your fall garden. I have Siberian dwarf kale and black kale growing in my fall garden. A little frost actually can sweeten the kale a bit. Let’s not get too excited about I mean its kale. So it’s not going to taste sugary unless you cook it in brown sugar. Which you wouldn’t, ’cause its kale and only healthy people eat kale.
Lettuce isn’t a sun bunny by any means, so a fall garden suits it just fine. It is a pretty hardy veggie that can withstand cooler night temperatures. I have four varieties I am growing outside (and in the winter inside in my Aerogarden). The four I am growing are Forellenschluss (speckled trout) romaine, Butter King, Butter Crunch and Garnet Rose Romaine. I love making salads using all four, the garnet rose lettuce adds a huge pop of colour and the butter lettuces adding a smooth buttery consistency to the salad.
Next year think I may add Tom Thumb lettuce to my garden. It is just so wee and it is also
These little guys get a boost from the cooler temperatures as their starches start to do wonderful things. The cold causes the starch to turn to sugar, which makes winter carrots extra delicious! Just make sure to choose varieties that don’t take too long to get to maturity. You will also want to keep them cool as they don’t like the A
Spinach is great for a fall garden and even better in your belly. As long as you plant it early in August (8 weeks before your first frost) you should have your first harvest by mid-october. I love making a baby spinach salad, complete with sliced strawberries, raisins, goat cheese and caramelized pecans. I did start out healthy with the best of intentions but then I guess it went downhill, but damn it’s tasty! Anyway grow the spinach and eat the spinach and be healthier. Even better grow it, chop it, freeze it and add it to soups, stews or my some delicious Italian wedding soup!
If you are luck enough to have your own cold frame, then plant your spinach there. Using this method you should be able to keep harvesting small amounts of spinach during the winter.
Make sure to plant your beets at least 8 weeks before your first frost, or even a bit sooner just to be on the safe side. For
Much like the beets, you need to make sure to get these bad boys in at least 8 weeks before the first frost. I haven’t grown these in the past, but my mum loves them so I decided to add them to my fall garden this year. They are also great for thickening up stews, soups and chilli. I decided to go with the purple top white globe turnip which is an heirloom variety that dates back to pre-1880 and is productive and easy to grow.
I used my summer garden to get radish seeds for my fall garden. I had a few old “regular” radish and also watermelon radish seeds that I wasn’t even sure would germinate. Lucky for me they did germinate and then I just had to patiently wait for them to go to seed. I just harvested the finally dried out seeds this morning. I will be planting them tomorrow so I’ll have some in October.
I don’t love swiss chard, but I am trying to be healthier so I thought I should grow it. That and I saw Jaime Oliver use it in a recipe that looked pretty good and figured he knew better than me. I picked up some gorgeous rainbow chard, so if nothing else at least I knew it was going to look pretty growing in the garden. It was a great choice as it has only 60 days until
I am obsessed with sugar snap peas, so if there is a chance for me to have a second round of them then I am all over that! I also love the beautiful Desiree dwarf blauwschokkers, they are such a pretty purple! As you probably know peas like to be cool, so they are perfect for a fall garden.
This includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. The only caveat is that they have to be planted as seedlings NOT as seeds. The seeds won’t have time to grow to maturity. In hindsight (it being 20/20 and all that jazz) this would have been a great opportunity to have started them in my Aerogarden Farm Plus. But, I did not, so this one will be on the back burner for next year.
So there you have it, 10 potential fall crops that you can add to your fall garden. I made some space for my fall planting by pulling up the lettuce, arugula and radishes I let go to seed. Why? They were old seeds and I needed to get new ones for next year. So I planted them in the hopes they would take (they did) and then I let them do their thing and go to seed. Then I collected up the seeds and I am going to plant them now! Booyah! Saving seeds is the sh*t.
So will you be planting a fall garden? What will you include?
Julie M SmithAugust 7, 2019 at 8:44 pm
Ooh, I need to try this year–thanks!
Trent PeekAugust 8, 2019 at 12:25 am
Great advice. Thanks for the great article.
AmySeptember 3, 2020 at 12:55 am
Thanks so much! I planted peas and spinach. Hoping for a late frost this year…
KirSeptember 3, 2020 at 5:08 am
All you have to lose is a few seeds!!! Fingers crossed for the late frost. Where are you located?
MeganJuly 12, 2022 at 9:10 pm
Your free guide is super helpful; thanks for the diagram, reflection questions and worksheets! It is awesome!