The Best Vegetables to Plant in a Fall Garden

You may be in full summer-harvest mode, picking zucchini, tomatoes, and basil every night. Or maybe you got sidetracked this spring and your plans to get the vegetable garden going just never went according to plan. Well, here’s some good news: Just because fall is on its way doesn’t mean it’s time to pack away your gardening gloves.

While the crisp fall weather may make it trickier to grow crops, there are still many vegetables that you can plant. Fall crops typically need a little extra time to mature because they receive less daylight as the season winds down. In most temperate growing zones, fall-planted crops will be ready to harvest in September and October. In very mild climates like the Pacific Northwest, many of these crops can survive through the winter, providing much needed garden love in the gloomiest months of the year.

Fortunately, a successful fall garden hinges on only a few simple rules:

1. Beets

You can plant beet seeds about eight to 10 weeks before the first expected frost, and harvest them in time for the holidays. The main difference: Beets harvested in fall have stronger colors than spring-planted beets. Since they aren’t fond of crowds, plant seeds about 1 inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart, or sow them closer together and use the thinnings later for salad fixings.

2. Carrots

Direct-sow carrots into the garden in rows spaced 6 to 8 inches apart. If your garden has drip irrigation, sow the seeds along the drip lines. Carrot seed is very small and can be hard to sow precisely, so aim for five to eight seeds per inch.

3. Onions

Depending on where you live, plant onion sets two to four weeks before the average last-frost date. Place the sets in a shallow furrow, space four to six inches apart, and cover with just enough soil to leave their pointed tips at the soil surface.

4. Broccoli

Transplant broccoli into the garden, spacing plants 12 to 18 inches apart. Broccoli loves nitrogen, so an additional application of a nitrogen source like blood meal or alfalfa meal will help it thrive.

5. Salad Greens

Obviously salad greens are a category, but most kinds can thrive during fall growing conditions. Greens need a relatively short amount of time to mature, so you can plant them through August and into September.

6. Asparagus

Once the temperatures cool down, dig trenches 12 inches wide and 6 inches deep in your garden beds. Soak the asparagus crowns before planting them in the trenches nearly feet apart and then top them with 2 to 3 inches of soil. Winterize these greens to ensure that you’ll have a fresh crop come springtime.

7. Garlic

In mid-fall, plant garlic cloves four to six inches apart. Push each clove at least one inch into the ground before covering with soil and six inches of mulch for winter protection. While you may be lucky enough to see some garlic sprout before winter, you’re more likely to get a fresh crop in spring.

8. Scallions

Scallions can be directly sown or transplanted into your August garden. If sowing seeds directly, sow four seeds per inch in rows 6 to 8 inches apart. Their tiny “bulbs” come in both white and deep purple and, like purple onions, purple scallions hold their color when cooked.