Mississippi‘s fertile soil, rainfall and warm temperatures support productive fall vegetable gardens. Plant fall gardens in the late summer and select varieties that mature quickly. Warm-season crops may be harvested until temperatures drop below freezing—usually in late fall except on the warmer Gulf Coast. You can grow cool-weather vegetable plants successfully in Mississippi into December and January, if given some protection.
In Mississippi, plant warm-season vegetables in midsummer for fall harvesting. Tomatoes, okra, peppers, bush beans and eggplant should be planted in mid-July. Choose varieties that mature in 75 days or less to ensure a crop before first-frost. Use seedlings instead of seeds for these vegetables. Good warm-weather varietal choices for a Mississippi fall garden include Better Boy, Cherry Grande, Celebrity, Sweet 100 and Mountain Spring tomatoes, Contender bush green beans, and TAM mild jalapeño and banana peppers. Because the vegetable transplant’s roots will be shallow during the first month of growing when the weather is hot, water the transplants daily using a soaker hose or drip irrigation.
Plant cool-season vegetables in mid to late summer for fall gardens. Vegetables such as broccoli, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower need longer to mature than leafy fall vegetables and should be planted in August. Mississippi gardeners find that these crops develop better taste and are more productive by maturing in cool fall weather than similar spring crops.
Leafy vegetables can be planted in September. Choose transplants for vegetables other than leafy ones. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, supporting areas with growing conditions similar to Mississippi, recommends Green Comet and Green Duke broccoli varieties; Snowball, Snow Crown, Violet Queen cauliflower plants; and leafy varieties like Blackseeded Simpson, Salad Bowl, Red Sails Bibb lettuce and Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach. Cool-season vegetables tolerate frost but need protection from freezing temperatures. Use a row cover cloth or sheets when nighttime temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep cool season vegetable plants moist with daily watering until daytime temperatures drop below 80 F.
Herbs complement fall vegetables in cooking and salads. Treat basil, dill and fennel as warm-weather crops. Mint, sage, oregano, cilantro, savory and parsley act like cool season vegetables. Rosemary is a perennial herb that becomes a small shrub in Mississippi gardens. Except for basil, herb plants require less water in a fall garden than vegetable plants.