Normally, we associate this season with harvesting--our baskets overflowing with fresh, just-picked produce from garden or market. But the season for growing in much of the country is not yet entirely over, and even in here in the Northeast we can extend our harvest right up until (or even somewhat past) the first frost and also get a jump-start on next spring. Plant in a sunny, protected area or think about using a row cover. The following is an approximate guide for planting opportunities in late summer/early fall in our area.
Late August Planting
- Beet - can be planted into the fall season if grown with protection such as a cloche or hoop house.
- Endive - Plant as soil temperatures begin to cool and keep soil moist for best germination results
- Lettuce - can be planted into September but yields decline significantly (seed companies often sell specific mixes for late summer/early fall plantings)
- Mustard - best sown in nursery bed and then transplanted throughout the garden
- Spinach - planting at this time produces tasty greens in October
- Turnip - fall roots are extra sweet!
Early–Mid September Planting
- Arugula - versatile, quick green that will re-seed and emerge early the following spring
- Cress - rapid-growing green that can be planted into winter if grown under cloches or a hoop house
- Onion - in climates with minimum winter temperatures above 10º F (Zone 8 and warmer), short–mid day length-adapted varieties such as Riverside and Valencia can be planted throughout the southern U.S; long day length-adapted varieties such as Siskiyou Sweet can be planted in western Oregon and Washington
- Radish - quick-growing roots have milder flavor in cool soils
- Spinach - planting at this time produces small plants in the fall that go dormant during the winter and resume growing in early spring; harvest begins in late March, assuring continual production throughout the spring
- garlic: Garlic planted this autumn will set root now and begin growing late next spring. It needs the cold to set its cycle in motion. Plus, garlic planted now will be ready much sooner than garlic planted next spring.
September through November Planting:
This is the best time to plant your small fruiting trees and shrubs. Setting out these larger plants in the fall allows them to establish strong roots in the still warm soil without the stress of the summer heat. Plant now and enjoy fruits like blueberry or raspberries in the spring.
While we can’t hold onto our succulent tomatoes or our colorful flowers throughout the cold, harsh winter (well, not without a greenhouse), at least by planting now we can remind ourselves of the promise of harvests in the future. No matter what, there will always be another spring!