Planting Fall Crops

Overview

Spring and summer aren't the only seasons for harvesting fresh vegetables from the garden. In areas that have mild falls with hard frosts coming in November, it's possible to harvest for several months until the first hard freeze. When planning your fall crop, consider how much sun the garden receives. As the days get shorter, you may want to change where you plant to adjust for the lessening sunshine.

Step 1

Select the crops you'll be harvesting in the fall. Any vegetables that have a long maturing season, like pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, beets, cabbages and potatoes are usually planted in early summer and won't be ready until fall. Fruits like apples and pears ripen in the fall as well. Plant trees where they won't shade the vegetables.

Step 2

Find out the average first day of frost in your area. Ask your local plant nursery or university agricultural extension office. Count backwards to the appropriate planting time. For example: Cabbage takes about 100 days to mature. If the first frost is usually Nov. 15, then plant the seeds by Aug. 1. Some plants, like Brussels sprouts, improve with a light frost, so take that into consideration as well.

Step 3

Dig and improve the soil. Even if the fall vegetables will be planted in your garden area, it pays to amend the soil every time you plant. Spread compost 2 inches thick and work it into the soil. Remove rocks and plant debris. Rake the soil level.

Step 4

Rotate crops. Potatoes planted in the same spot year after year are prone to diseases like potato blight. Rotating crops refreshes the soil as well. Beans add nitrogen. Plant a nitrogen loving crop like squash where the beans were planted.

Step 5

Consider planting a second crop of cool season vegetables to mature in the fall. Usually peas, lettuce and leafy greens are planted in spring. The warmer weather of late summer helps gets seeds off to a good start. As the plants mature, the weather gets cooler and cooler which help the plants thrive.

Step 6

Interplant fall crops in with the crops that ripen in the summer, such as tomatoes and corn. When the corn is ripe, the fall crop will be ready to take its place. Cut the corn stalks down rather than pulling them up so the roots of the fall vegetables aren't disturbed.

Step 7

Water the plants after planting to a depth of 6 inches. Continue watering if natural rainfall totals less than 1 1/2 inches per week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Frost can come well before the average first date.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Seeds

References

  • "Burpee Complete Gardener"; Allan Armitage et al; 1995
  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003
Keywords: plant pumpkins, planting fall crops, gardening fall crops

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on GardenGuides.com, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.