Spring is traditionally the time gardeners look forward to their first crop of veggies, but a summer planting can yield a second bumper harvest of seasonal vegetables packed with goodness. A few great reasons to try a summer planting are:
- the soil is warmer in June and July and perfect for starting from seed
- cooler temperatures in fall mean less watering
- better flavor and nutrients result when seasonal vegetables are grown in their ideal conditions.
Before you choose vegetables to try, you need to know your growing or hardiness zone. The zone takes into account the variation in climate and soil types, and choosing vegetables to plant that do well in your growing zone will give you the best fall harvest. To determine which zone you are in is to use the USDA Plant Hardiness Map.
In general, the warmer your state, the longer the growing season, which means you can spread more planting over a longer period of time. Every seed packet will tell you an estimated number of days until harvest, and when to start your seeds before your area’s frost dates. You now have the perfect planting and harvest schedule.
Which vegetables should be planted in summer for a fall harvest?
Vegetables that mature quickly and are somewhat tolerant of fall frost make them best for planting in summer. Temperatures between 30 and 32˚F are considered as “low frost,” and here are your options for summer planting that do well with low frost:
- Swiss chard
- Chinese Cabbage
- Green Onions
Some vegetables like collard greens have more flavor after going through a frost. For those who live in an area with cooler temps that come earlier, here are some vegetables that thrive in those conditions:
These vegetables are low maintenance and exceptional for planting in the summer for a fall harvest. Even if they do freeze, upon thawing out, they will continue to grow.
When should I plant my vegetables for a fall harvest?
Veteran gardeners and enthusiasts will tell you that planting at the right time for your area is a must. Here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of your planting season:
Always check the first frost date – generally, some time in October or November.
Find the harvest date on your seed packet, and count backward that amount of days from the first frost date to find your ideal planting date.
You can plant your seeds four weeks earlier in a germination container, but add this to the total growing time.
Plants grow slowly in cooler temperatures, so add 14 days to the total.
Consider using a row cover or a cold frame to shield your vegetables from frost. This added protection gives you up to three weeks extra growing time.
Quick vegetable planting times hacks!
10–12 weeks before the first frost date – plant cabbage, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.
8–10 weeks before the first frost date – plant Swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, lettuce, arugula, Chinese cabbage, and turnips.
6–8 weeks before the first frost date – plant radishes, and beets.
Top tips: Mulch can help protect your root veggies, and while you might see some frost damage on the top, the rooted parts will be fine. Plant several batches of lettuce a few weeks apart to have an extended harvest, rather than one large crop.
Can I plant vegetables in window boxes for a fall harvest?
If you have limited space, there are many vegetables that will grow well in a window box or raised bed. One of the bonuses to growing vegetables in a container inside is that the first frost won’t impact them, and you have a longer growing time. Try these easy growers in a box or inside:
As an added bonus if you have some indoor space for growing veggies, you can also plant complimentary herbs, like rosemary and thyme.
For a window box growth, you’ll need to ensure the temperature is pretty steady and that the vegetables have adequate hours of sunlight.
These vegetables are ideal for planting in summer for a fall harvest from Arizona to Minnesota – it all depends on your first frost date.