As the summer harvest season begins to wane, many gardeners look for crops that can be planted for a fall garden. Fall gardens allow for a second crop to be raised and harvested before the winter sets in. Fall gardens are planted as early as the middle of August in areas with short growing seasons or as late as November for areas with warmer climates. Most cool weather crops, those that are planted in the early spring, are ideal for fall planting.
Determine the plant hardiness zone and first frost date for your area. A city and state chart for these dates is listed in the Resources below.
Select cool weather plants to grow. Greens to consider include spinach, lettuce and swiss chard. Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage do well in fall gardens. Root vegetable to consider include turnips, radishes, carrots and beets.
Read the planting instructions on each type of crop and determine how soon it needs to be in the ground in order to mature before the first frost date in your area. For instance, if you are planting peas that take 63 days to mature and your first frost date is Oct. 22, you would subtract 63 days from the date and plant on or around the resulting date of Aug. 20.
Start seeds indoors, if necessary, to give them a head start on the fall growing season. This works well for longer maturing plants or if you haven't fully harvested the existing garden plants.
Avoid planting hot weather vegetables, such as tomatoes or peppers, in a fall garden. They will not have enough time or heat to mature and produce fruit.