Tag Archives: fall garden

8 Vegetable Varieties You Can Still Plant This Fall

As temperatures begin to cool many people start to think of harvesting long season crops like popcorn, pumpkins, and winter squashes but for the avid gardener it can still be time to plant. Whether you just love fresh food, have been inspired by books like 4 Season Harvest, or just desire more food independence SESE has many varieities that can still be planted.

For the purposes of this post we focused on the USDA Hardiness Zone 7A where Southern Exposure is located. That does not mean these are not still possibilities for your garden even if you live farther north. However your choices may be more limited and you may need to utilize season extenders like cold frames or row cover.

Chioggia (Dolce Di Chioggia) Beets

Beets are relatively cold hardy and quick to maturity. Grow them for fall greens or roots to store through the winter. In zone 7A beets can be sown up to Spetember 15th.

These Chioggia beets are both beautiful and ulitarian. They’re a fast growing, prolific, pre-1840 Italian heirloom with good flavor and storage properties.

Champion Collards

Collards are a beloved southern green that can be added to your fall garden until Spetember first in zone 7A, so it’s time to get some in now!

Champion collards reach maturity in 75 days and have enhanced winter hardiness, making them an excellent choice.

Broad-Leaved Bativian Endive (Full Heart Escarole)

Endive is very sensitive to hot weather so fall is actually a perfect planting time. The plants can be stored for winter use by digging the plant with the root ball intact and keeping in a root cellar or area of your home that stays around 50°F. Endive can be planted until September 15th.

Broad-Leaved Bativian has 12-16 inch creamy white heads with dark green outer leaves. It matures in 90 days.

Premier Kale

Kale is a wonderfully hardy green that can help keep your garden going year round. It can be sown in a zone 7A garden until September 15th.

Premier is a delicious variety with very tender leaves. It’s ready to harvest in just 60 days or can be over-wintered for awesome, early spring growth.

Speckled Bibb Lettuce

Lettuce is an easy choice for most gardens because it’s commonly liked and easy to grow. However in zone 7A much of the summer it can be difficult to grow lettuce because of the hot temperatures. Thankfully lettuce crops can be sown in the fall until Spetember 21st.

Speckled Bibb Lettuce is an excellent because it’s great tasting, gorgeous, and grows quickly in cool weather. You can have a Speckled Bibb harvest in just 43 days.

Red Giant Mustard

Mustards are great cold tolerant greens with a lot of flavor. They can be planted in zone 7A as late as October 1st!

Red Giant Mustard is an insect resistant variety originally from Japan. Its reddish purple leaves are stunning, cold tolerant, and strongly flavored.

Misato Rose Fall Radish

Radishes are a quick crop that can be sown up until November first in Zone 7A. Some radish varieties store especially well making them great for winter use.

The beautiful Misato Rose Fall Radish is an SESE favorite. It’s super easy to grow, matures in about 60 days, and keeps well.

Amber Glob (Yellow Globe) Turnip

Turnips are another hardy root and/or green to add to your fall garden. They can be planted as late as October 1st in the inland plains of the mid-Atlantic.

The Amber Globe Turnip is a fall variety that dates back to before 1840. It has sweet, fine-grained, creamy yellow flesh. Matures in 63 days.

 

If you don’t find favorites among this list be sure to puruse other varieties. Especially if you live in zone 6 or warmer or have season extenders there’s still plenty of varieities to offer a fall and winter bounty.

As autumn continues and the weather cools off more it will also be time to plant other crops like spinach, garlic, and perrennial onions.

Succession Planting 101

Ever wonder how your favorite local farm stand manages to have so much variety for such a long period of time? Farmers use succession planting to maximize their harvests and provide a wide variety of vegetables for a long season.

Succession planting is when you stagger plantings or plant multiple crops in the same area throughout the season. Each time a crop is finished you pull it and plant a new one. This allows commercial growers to reap large, continued harvests.

It’s not just for farmers though! Succession planting is super easy and great for backyard gardeners too. With a little extra planning you can get more production for your existing garden space.

Getting Started

Choosing Varieties

Almost any crop can be succession planted but different crops are succession planted for different reasons and offer different results.

Plants like corn, broccoli, and cabbage are often planted in successions to achieve more than just a single harvest. Many people also choose to plant successions of summer squash and cucumbers as just a few plants can produce a massive amount at their height of production.

Radishes, swiss chard, green onions, and carrots are great for planting multiple successions or sneaking in between plantings of other crops. They’re quick to grow and favored by urban gardeners and farmers.

Cool season crops are also good choices as they can be planted in the early spring or fall when hot weather crops won’t be taking up space in your garden.

Additionally you can select multiple varieties of crops with different harvest times. For example Golden Acre Cabbage takes just 62 days to harvest while Premium Late Flat Dutch is 100 days to harvest. Plant a little of both at the same time for different harvests.

Check out this post by Ira Wallace for more awesome ideas!

Planning

Succession planting is most successful when you have a good solid plan. To start you’ll need to know which crops you want to grow, their days to harvest, and the length of your growing season. Here at Southern Exposure we’re in zone 7 and have roughly 180 frost free days, plenty of time to get multiple successions of many crops.

Once you have these details you can start organizing your plantings. You’ll want your garden layout and a calendar or datebook. Alternatively you can try out the Southern Exposure Garden Planner.

Using your knowledge and tools you can judge the general times specific crops will be harvested and which one can be grown next in their place. To help avoid disease, pest, and nutrient issues avoid replanting the same crop in the same space.

If you’re not interested in a written plan just remember each time crop is harvested a new crop is planted. On the Facebook page we’ll continue to have what to plant this week guides which can help you decide which crops you should replant throughout the summer.

Example Combinations for Zone 7A

Staggered Planting

Succession planting can be tough especially if you’re someone who has huge springtime garden dreams but gets so busy by midsummer you barely remember where you planted the what let alone find time to harvest. Surprisingly succession planting can also help you keep your garden manageable.

One of the easiest ways to start succession planting is simply to not plant an entire crop all at once. For example if you want to have a bunch of sweetcorn throughout the summer rather than a single harvest simply plant a few rows every two weeks. This method is great for people who want to enjoy fresh produce but don’t necessarily have time to put up a large harvest. Of course you’ll need to be aware of your days to harvest and first frost date ensuring you give all your crops enough time to fully mature.

Cool Season Crops

Cool season crops are another great option especially for those with hot summers. Many plants like turnips, pak choi, arugula, and lettuce that prefer cool whether can be sown early in the spring and again in the late summer or early fall in order to reap a second harvest. In the summer, heat loving crops can take their place in the garden.

It sounds awesome but sowing crops late in the season in order to get a fall harvest can be tricky. For fall crops it’s important to keep the soil as cool and moist as possible if your planting in the heat of summer. Check out Tips for Sowing in Hot Weather by Lisa Dermer & Ira Wallace for more information. 

You can also extend these crops’ season even further through the use of cold frames , hoop houses, and row covers.

Fertility

It’s important to note that growing more crops in the same space throughtout the season will use more nutrients. You’ll need to be careful not o over-tax your garden. Consider the use of crop rotation, cover crops, compost amendments, and homemade liquid fertilizers to meet your plants nutrient requirements.

All of these are fairly easy to achieve at home and can make your garden more productive while saving you money on pricey store bought garden amendments.

No matter why you got into gardening succession planting can help you turn things up a notch. You can use it to have less overwhelming harvests, enjoy more of your family’s favorite vegetables, grow more food, and even extend your growing season.

What’s your favorite crop for succession planting? Tell us in the comments!

Tips for Direct Sowing in Hot Weather

Lisa Dermer & Ira Wallace

Last week we finished harvesting our spring-planted cabbage and broccoli. Now it’s time to sow our first seedling bed for our fall brassicas: besides cabbage and broccoli, we’ll add cauliflower and Chinese cabbage. Later we’ll make sowings of fall carrots, beets, lettuce, rutabaga, turnips, and greens like spinach, chard, kale, and mustards.

Sowing outdoors during high heat can be tricky, but if you follow these tips you’ll find it’s worth the effort:

1. Sow in a closely-spaced nursery bed and transplant later. This lets you concentrate your efforts (keeping the soil moist and weed-free) on a small, more manageable area. (Don’t do this for crops that don’t transplant well, like carrots.)

2. Choose a location with afternoon shade. This will protect the sprouting seeds from drying out.

3. Sow under lightweight row cover or the newer temperature-neutral proteknet. Both protect from insect pests and help retain soil moisture.

4. Sow successions! Two weeks after your first sowing make another planting of the same varieties or other, earlier-maturing types.

5. Count backwards. Plan for cool-season crops to mature when cool weather hits, and use the days to maturity to plan when to sow.

6. Transplant and/or thin your plantings. Giving plants more space helps their roots access enough moisture. Young seedlings grow faster in hot weather, so plan for quick turn-arounds. Summer-sown brassicas may be ready to transplant in 4 weeks or less (they should have 3 true leaves).

Check out our Fall and Winter Quick Reference for more details about timing and what to plant for fall and winter harvest.

Order now if you haven’t already reserved your planting stock for garlic and perennial onions. Each order comes with a Garlic and Perennial Onion Growing Guide to get you started.