Planning Your Fall Garden

Author Photo
By Karen Newcomb


Even though it’s only August you may already be too late to plant a fall garden. But keep in mind that some vegetable varieties can overwinter, while many of the root vegetables do well when covered with a thick layer of mulch or straw and stored in the ground until you need them. Oriental vegetablethrive in fall and winter and are more flavorful.

Fall vegetables that do well are Asian greens, beets, broccoli, broccoli raab, Oriental cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, collard greens, radishes (especially Asian radishes), endive, escarole, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, meslun, mustard greens, peas, radicchio, all salad greens, sorrel, spinach and turnips. In warmer climates all of the above can be grown, but you can also plant all cabbages, cardoon, celeriac, celery, fava beans, lima beans, okra, parsnips, rutabaga, salsify and shelling beans. If you live in really warm areas, like the Imperial Valley of California, Southern Arizona, the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Southern Florida, you can grow eggplant, peppers, tomatillos and tomatoes.

To determine when you should start a fall garden you must first know your first fall frost date. An easy way to do this is go to the Noaa Satellite and Information Service. Select your state and click. They list the spring date, the fall date and freeze free days. Seed Savers Exchange also had a Fall Planting Guide in their newsletter with vegetable and plant-by dates, with frost dates included. You can also calculate the number of days from planting seeds to harvest (outside):

• Number of days from planting seed to transplanting (if you grow your own)
• Add average days to maturity (harvest time)
• Add fall weather factor (about 2 weeks)
• Equal the number of days to count backwards from first frost date

I am a vegetable garden book author who believes in year-round gardening. There is nothing quite like going out to the garden in the coolness of fall and pulling up veggies to put in a homemade soup. Make enough fresh soup to freeze, and you’ll be a happy camper during those cold nights.

Karen’s Favorite Vegetable Soup

I like to use my 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven, but any large pot will do. Collect whatever vegetables you like from your garden. I like carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, spinach, Pak Choy, Michilli or Napa cabbage (or any cabbage available), sometimes a turnip or two, or even a little kale, and peas (either snow or regular). I use either chicken broth or beef broth to start (if you are a vegetarian like my son, use only water or vegetable broth). I then dice/chop vegetables and toss in the pot, add 1 can of diced tomatoes, then salt and pepper to taste. Once it starts to simmer, I add 1 or 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and check for flavor now and then. That’s it. If you like minestrone, you can add kidney beans, cannelloni beans, pasta and basil. If you like chicken or beef vegetable soup, just toss that in too. The important thing is the ingredients you harvested from your own garden. That fresh taste makes all the difference in home cooking.

Visit my website to find vegetable varieties suitable for fall planting and which seed catalogs offer them. You can select from heirloom or hybrid varieties.

© Copyright by Karen Newcomb


Updated on Sep 8, 2021  |  Originally Published on Aug 21, 2013