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How to start a fall garden

You’re still harvesting tomatoes and basil from your summer vegetable gardening every single day, and making pesto and salsa every night. It’s now time to plant your autumn garden.

That’s right. You’re hot and you just celebrated July 4, so fall seems distant as you sip a cold beer on the porch in your flip-flops. While you are enjoying your summer vegetables, you should be thinking about fall.

It is important to allow crops to mature and produce harvests before the first frost. However, some crops such as collards or Brussels sprouts have better flavor after a light freeze. Most gardeners will plant seeds in July, even if it is mild winter. Because of the effects of temperature on growth, but also day length and light, this can be challenging for some areas.

These are some helpful tips to help you start your fall garden no matter where you are.

You Might Need to

It’s too late for most gardeners to start thinking about planting a fall garden. You will need to plant many late-season vegetables such as cabbages, Brom, and carrots at the peak of the summer. This means that you will be planting seeds or transplants before your kids return to school.

Some fast-growing fall vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and radishes can be planted as late as September. However, other vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and cabbage will take a few months to mature.

If in doubt, plant your autumn crops early. Once the first frost arrives, it’s over. Your space will determine whether you sow seeds indoors or outdoors.

Summer Crops Can Be Removed… Or Don’t

It depends on where you live, how much space you have, and what your priorities are. Some peppers will continue producing well into the fall in some areas. If you have enough space, you can leave them alone while you plant your cool-season crops. Other summer crops like winter squash may require more time to mature.

If you want to grow a fall broccoli crop, then grab the tomato seeds and plant those slower-growing broccoli plants. You can also switch out summer plants to plant fall crops.

How Long Does It Take for Fall Vegetables To Ripen

There is a time frame for each type of fall vegetable. This means that you can predict how long it takes to get from carrot seed into carrot or from broccoli start to spear.

The “Days to maturity” words on your starter plant tag or seed packet will tell you how long it takes for your plant to produce the desired harvest. Although the exact days it takes to reach maturity will vary depending on your environment, this is a reliable indicator of how long you need to grow your plant.

Your fall vegetables should be planted so they can mature before the first frost in your region. The first frost day is the date you should find. Next, count backward based on the days until maturity for each vegetable type. This is your ideal planting date.

However, the frost date doesn’t always mean the end of the season. Many fall crops like collards and parsnips can withstand a frost or light freeze, including Brussels sprouts and collards.

You’ve now made room for fall vegetables in the garden plot, and you have planned for a good growing season. Now it’s time for you to choose which crops to plant.

These Fall Vegetables Are Available Early

These slow-growing plants should be planted early in the season to allow them the 9-12 weeks to reach maturity.


Broccoli can be grown from seeds or transplants purchased at a garden center.

  • Plant broccoli transplants approximately 2 feet apart in your garden.
  • Depending on the conditions, you can harvest broccoli in between 10 and 12 weeks.
  • Make sure to pick florets before they turn yellow.
  • Cut six inches below the head of the florets with a sharp knife.
  • Full sun: Light requirements

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts belong to the cabbage family and are a great choice for fall gardens.

  • Place the transplants 12-14 inches apart. If you are growing from seeds outdoors, add 20 days to your harvest calculations.
  • When they reach 6 inches tall, stake the plants. They will reach 2 to 3 feet in height, so they are large plants that will require support when full of Brussels sprouts.
  • The main stem is where Brussels sprouts are found, and they grow from the bottom upwards. When they are large enough to be eaten, cut them off.
  • Light requirements: Full sunlight


Growing cabbage requires steady, uninterrupted growth that allows the heads to mature.

  • Plant transplants are 12-24 inches apart depending on the variety. To create a stronger anchor for the mature heads, bury 1 to 2 inches of the main stem in the soil.
  • To produce full heads, cabbage needs constant moisture. If it doesn’t rain, water regularly.
  • A head will be ready in 6-8 weeks. Wait until the head is fully grown before harvesting. Before cutting or cooking, squeeze the head until it is firm and fully covered in leaves.
  • After the head is fully mature, some cabbage can be kept on the stem in the backyard for several weeks.
  • No light needs: Full sunlight.


Carrots can be grown in a very simple manner, provided they are planted in loose, sandy soil. Heavy, rocky soil yields freaky-looking carrots.

  • You can plant seeds directly in the garden.
  • They take a while to germinate. Seedlings won’t appear for up to three weeks.
  • Seedlings should be 2 to 3 inches tall when they are ready for transplantation.
  • To start, water 1 inch per week. Once roots are mature, water 2 inches each week.
  • Harvest carrots when the roots are visible above the soil. Carrots harvested earlier are tender and sweeter, so don’t leave them in the soil for too long.
  • No light needs: Full sunlight.


Cauliflower requires a constant cool temperature to bolt. This makes it difficult for gardeners who live in warmer climates.

  • Place nursery transplants 6-8 weeks before the first frost date in your garden. Cauliflower can be difficult to plant from seed so it is best to buy small plants at a garden center.
  • Water 2 inches per week if there is no rain.
  • Depending on the variety, heads will be ready for harvest within 50 to 100 days.
  • Use a large knife to remove the heads of the plants.
  • Full sun: Light requirements


Because it is difficult and slow to grow collards from seeds, you can start them from transplants.

  • Place transplants in your garden, spacing them 18-24 inches apart.
  • Collards require a lot of water. If it doesn’t rain, give them 1-1/2 inches of water each week.
  • When leaves are at least 10 inches in length, harvest them when they’re darkened and green. Old leaves may be hard and stringy.
  • The outer leaves should be removed, but the middle leaves can continue to grow.
  • Light requirements: Full sunlight to part shade

These Fall Vegetables Will Be Planted Later

These vegetables are quick-growing and can be harvested by frost in as little as 8 weeks. These cool-season crops are not tolerant to heat so it’s best to wait until the fall to plant them. You can keep your supply of fresh-picked vegetables in check by using succession planting. This involves planting seeds or transplants every few weeks to ensure you have a new crop.


Arugula’s peppery flavor is great for salads. Plant seeds directly in the ground.

  • The seedlings are ready to go in 7-14 days.
  • In 3 to 4 weeks, the Arugula plant will be fully grown and ready to harvest.
  • When the leaves are large enough to be eaten, cut them. Keep in mind that the sweeter and more tender the leaves are, the earlier they’re harvested.
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade


Beets are rich in fiber and high in vitamin C. You can also eat the roots as well as the greens.

  • Place starter beet plants 3-4 inches apart in the ground
  • In 4 to 6 weeks, beets are ready for harvest.
  • When they are at least golf ball-sized, you should pick them up. They taste better if you get them picked as soon as possible. Old beets can be bitter, tough, and a nuisance.
  • Full sun requires


Kale can be grown all year round in many climates. It is extremely cold-tolerant. Kale has a sweet, nuanced flavor when it is exposed to cold temperatures.

  • Starter plants should be placed.
  • Kale transplanted from other plants will be ready for harvest in 4 to 6 weeks.
  • When the leaves are large enough to be eaten, remove them from the bunch.
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade

Mustard Greens

Although mustard greens aren’t as frost-resistant as their cousin’s collards or kale they are just as nutritious and easy to grow.

  • Starter plants should be placed 12-18 inches apart
  • In approximately 4 weeks, plants will produce edible leaves.
  • To harvest, remove the leaves from the outside.
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade


There are spring and winter radishes; you can plant winter radishes in your fall garden. Good varieties include ‘China Rose’ or ‘Long Black Spanish.

  • Plant seeds directly in the ground. For best root formation, they prefer loose soil. This is because the root you eat is what matters.
  • Seedlings emerge in 7 days.
  • To make room for root growth, thin seedlings
  • Radishes can be pulled up and ready to eat in as short as 3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks depending on the variety
  • Light requires Full Sun


Spinach is extremely cold-resistant, so it can be left in the ground well into winter.

  • Plant seeds directly in the soil.
  • Keep seedlings thin at 3-4 inches apart
  • When the leaves reach the right size, harvest. In as little as four weeks, you can have your leaves ready for consumption.
  • Full sun requires


This root vegetable has been grown for thousands of years.

  • Plant seeds directly in the ground
  • The seedlings are ready to go in five to twelve days.
  • Turnip leaves can be harvested and eaten in as little time as one month. The roots must be harvested within 2 to 3 months.
  • Full sun requires