Planting a Fall Vegetable Garden - Seattle's Favorite Garden Shop Since 1924 - Swansons Nursery (2023)

We are very fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to be able to grow vegetables most of the year (with a little help from materials that extend the season), but the fact is that many horticulturists do not take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the middle or late summer. to plant vegetables for fall and even early spring crops.

Perhaps we are all a little less sure about what to plant and when. Or perhaps, with arms full of oversized pumpkins and eyes glued to ripe tomatoes, we're left in the "care and harvest" zone, forgetting that we'll soon be lamenting the lack of garden-grown produce (and sun). .

Perhaps we hear the term "autumn garden" and think that autumnplanting. But late June to September is the ideal time to plant..If you already have a thriving edible garden or haven't had time to start a vegetable garden this year, it's time to get out there and get started! This fall gardening guide will help you plan and plant a successful fall garden.

Editor's Note: Updated for 2022!

Planning the fall garden

Did you miss the pea plant last spring? No problem. In PNW we can grow peas for a fall crop! Do you have a space where your freshly cut lettuce used to grow? It's the perfect spot for beets, broccoli, or even more lettuce.

Let's look at where to plant, how to improve the soil, and whether to plant seeds or seedlings (small plants), then I'll provide you with a list of suitable vegetables for the fall/winter garden and tell you when to plant. each.

where to plant

When planting in the fall, it's a good idea to practice crop rotation. If you can, plant something different than what you had in that spot in the spring and summer. This is especially important for crops in the cabbage family (broccoli, kale, radish) and beets (beets, chard, spinach), as well as carrots and onions. Some of the pests that attack these vegetables may still be around, and planting the same thing in the same spot makes it much easier for them to feast on each other.

Also remember that you can sow or even plant seedlings (small plants) in tight spaces if the vegetables growing there are going to be harvested soon. Radishes and carrots can be planted between rows of mature lettuce or broad beans, for example. And you can plant lettuce between rows of winter cabbage or cauliflower.

improve the soil

Your summer vegetables have likely depleted the soil of essential nutrients, so adding a natural plant fertilizer (such as Dr. Earth or the Espoma brand) will give your new plants a much-needed boost. You can also amend your soil with high-quality compost such as E.B. Rock planting compost or Gardner & Bloome Harvest Supreme. For containers, always use potting soil (again, E.B. Stone and Gardner & Bloome offer great options) mixed with fertilizer, added according to package directions.

Now is also the time to cover the soil after planting with several inches of compost (Gardner & Bloome Soil Building Conditioner is excellent as a mulch) to keep summer heat in the soil and help retain soil moisture.

If you decide not to plant your entire space, consider planting onehedge culturesuch as crimson clover, snow peas, winter peas, or broad beans in fall. These legumes are nitrogen fixers and will improve your soil. Let them grow through the winter, then plant them in the ground in the spring before they go to seed (I can't stress this enough) and voilà: improved soil!

Beginnings or seeds?

Planting early will allow you to harvest earlier in many cases. For many of the edibles listed below, it is preferable to start planting in August. However, quick crops like lettuce, parsley, radish, arugula, or vegetables you'll pick small (carrots and baby spinach leaves, kale, and Swiss chard) can be easily grown from seed or seedlings, depending on your needs. preferences. If the seeds do not germinate in early August due to heat and lack of water, try again in late August and September when they can germinate more easily.

Note: Starter plants can be planted up to 2-3 weeks after sowing the seeds.

Many vegetables have varieties that are best suited for fall and winter. At Swansons we offer plant varieties and seeds for fall gardening in July and August. You can also check the seed packet information to see if a variety is recommended for fall gardening.

what to plant

Vegetables are often separated into two groups: cool season and warm season. Warm-season vegetables are at their peak in the height of summer—think tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Cool-season vegetables prefer a milder climate and can usually be planted in spring and again in late summer or early fall.

Some cool-season vegetables grow quickly, and if you plant them now, you may be able to harvest this year. Lettuce, most greens, radishes, and peas can be harvested before the first frost or covered for protection (see “Cold Protection,” below), while beets and carrots can take a bit. of frost and may even be sweeter because of it.

Other cool-season vegetables can be planted in mid-fall, but won't be ready to harvest until next year. They will overwinter, which means they will go dormant until early spring and then start growing again, giving you earlier harvests than if you waited until early spring to plant them.

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So what should you plant? Here are some options.

autumn harvests

Plant them in late June for fall crops.

These vegetables need a long lead to be ready for harvest before winter.

Plant them in early to mid-July for fall crops.

These vegetables should be planted in mid-summer so they have time to mature in the fall.

  • baby carrots

  • Beet

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • col china

  • Cabbage

  • I will climb

  • Peas (look for dwarf and wilt-resistant varieties)

  • Chard

Plant them in late July for fall crops.

You have a little more freedom with these vegetables, which grow quickly.

  • asian greens

  • Bitter Greens (Arugula, Endivia, Radicchio, Mustard)

  • hi choi

  • arabic broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Green onions

  • Lettuce (benefits from some shade in the hottest part of the day)

  • Peas

  • radishes

  • Spinach

  • Chard

Plant them in August for fall crops.

These fast-growing, green plants like cooler weather. You can sow every week during the month of August for a longer fall harvest period.

  • asian greens

  • Bitter Greens (Arugula, Endivia, Radicchio, Mustard)

  • arabic broccoli

  • Green onions

  • Lettuce (benefits from some shade in the hottest part of the day)

  • chewed

  • radishes

  • Spinach

  • Chard

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Herbs for the Fall Harvest

There are also several herbs that, if planted early, will continue to grow through the fall (and some even into winter). Oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme are perennial plants, which means they will continue to grow year after year.

  • Coriander (can also be easily grown from seed)

  • Oregano

  • Parsley

  • Romero

  • Intelligent

  • Thyme

Overwintering for early spring crops.

Plant them in July for the next spring crops.

Here are some vegetables to plant from mid-July to the end of the month for the winter. You will be able to harvest them much sooner than if you wait to plant until spring!

  • Broccoli

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbage

  • Cabbage

  • onion

Plant them in late September for the next spring crops.

If the weather turns too cold or rainy, consider protecting your plants with a canopy (learn more in the Cold Protection section below).

  • Arugula

  • Beet

    (Video) Fall Vegetable Gardening

  • Lettuce

  • Mustard

Plant them from late September to early November for next summer's crops.

For more information, seehow to grow garlicmiShallot cultivation.

  • it

  • chalotes

A Note on Watering

All vegetable plants need regular watering during the summer. If you plant seeds, the soil surface must be kept moist or they will not germinate. It takes a bit of work, but in early fall, the combination of warm soil, mild temperatures, and rain creates the perfect conditions to help your young plants thrive and become established long before winter hits (I know, I know! ...too early to talk about winter).

cold protection

One way to extend the growing season (this works for early spring planting, too) is to use a row cover or hood to protect your vegetables and keep them warm. Row covers are lightweight fabrics that allow air, sun, and water penetration, but raise soil temperatures by about 5 degrees. They can be placed loosely on seed or newly sown seed, with the edges secured with U-stakes, stones, or boards. Be sure to allow room for the plants to push the fabric up as they grow. This fabric also protects crops from pest birds and insects.

Another option is to cover your individual plants or the entire bed with a canopy. They come in many forms: glass domes, plastic sheeting placed over PVC pipes and secured, or even do-it-yourself liter soda bottles. Google 'DIY cloches' and get lost in the myriad of results. If you use a hood hood with plastic sheeting, vent the sides during the day to allow airflow.

A Few More Resources for the PNW Gardener

Swansons Nursery wants to help make your garden project a success, so we encourage you to take advantage of these resources. You can find useful information in ourNO gardening tipspage and please ask us any questions in person or viaemail!


  • Seattle Maritime Tilth Northwest Gardens Guide

  • Growing Vegetables West of the Falls by Steve Solomon

  • Food Grown in Your Garden by Colin McCrate and Brad Halm

  • Cool Season Gardener de Bill Thorness

  • Territorial Seed Company Catalog (Best 75¢ You'll Ever Spend)

Site and podcasts


How do you plant a fall vegetable garden? ›

In fall, sow seeds no later than 10 weeks before the first frost for a fall harvest. The seeds are tiny. Sow as evenly as possible but expect to come back after germination to thin out crowed sprouts for proper spacing.

When should I start my fall garden? ›

Generally speaking, here's the rule of thumb: 10-12 weeks before first frost: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery. 8-10 weeks before first frost: Arugula, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chart, turnips. 6-8 weeks before first frost: Beets, radishes.

How late can you plant fall vegetables? ›

Some fast growing fall crops like lettuce and radishes can be planted into late September, but many desirable fall crops like broccoli and carrots need several months of prime-growing conditions to mature before frost and low light levels set in. When in doubt, plant your fall crops a little early.

Should I fertilize my vegetable garden in the fall? ›

Can you fertilize vegetables in the summer and fall? Yes! Although a good rule of thumb is to work granular fertilizer into the soil before planting, it's important to remember that plants will need the most help while they're actively growing.

Is it too late to plant fall vegetables in October? ›

September and October are prime months to plant perennial plants that are not frost tender. It's not too late to plant fall vegetables and herbs. Vegetable starts for cool season vegetables continue to be in great supply.

How do you prepare ground for fall planting? ›

For a small garden, simply dig by hand to remove any weeds, old plants, and debris. Then add organic matter but simply add a layer on top and you can turn the soil lightly with a garden fork to mix it in.

How do you start a vegetable garden in autumn? ›

Autumn veggie planting advice

To keep the harvests coming over a longer period and avoid a glut of produce all at once, make several small plantings two to three weeks apart. Veggies grow best in rich, fertile soil in full sun with protection from cold winds.


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