Extend your vegetable season with fall plantings

One of the advantages of living where the climate is milder and the first frost doesn’t come until the end of October (or maybe even December) is the opportunity for bountiful fall vegetable crops. Some gardeners, however, overlook this chance to have fresh, home-grown veggies late in the year.

The biggest challenge for a fall garden is getting crops into the ground early enough to produce before a freeze but late enough that the summer heat won’t reduce their output. Fall crops often take up to 3 weeks longer to reach maturity than those planted in spring, so plan accordingly. Some cool-season crops such as brussels sprouts and spinach can take a bit of frost. Leeks, carrots, kale, parsnips, and other root vegetables can be harvested well into November and December. In fact, parsnips and cole crops can taste better after a light frost.

Your local garden center or extension service will be glad to tell you when specific vegetables can be planted in your area, but generally, late September plantings of the following should do well in warm southern and western climates:

Sow Seeds Transplant
Arugula Broccoli
Carrots Brussels sprouts
Chard Cabbage
Fennel Cauliflower
Kale Chinese cabbage
Kohlrabi Parsley
Lettuce Scallions

If you are creating a new planting area or if the soil in your existing garden has become hard and crusty, you’ll get better results by working in some soil amendments  before planting. Water well immediately after planting and continue to feed your garden every other week with water soluble all purpose plant food mixed with water.