Seasonal Gardening Guide: Fall Vegetables to Plant

fall vegetables in basket in a garden

You can start a seasonal vegetable garden any season you want, even in the fall. While many gardeners consider the summer season as the peak of their vegetable gardening, fall has some qualities that make it a good time to grow vegetables as well. In fact, you can take advantage of fall’s cooler temperatures or wetter conditions to grow cool-season vegetables.

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about starting your own seasonal fall vegetables garden. From how to prepare your garden to how long you need to wait before harvesting your fall vegetables, we’ve got you covered.

How to Prepare your Seasonal Vegetable Garden for Fall

To start preparing for your fall vegetable garden, you need to make space for fall planting. This requires you to plan ahead and intentionally leave a bed open for fall vegetables. A great way to do this is by planting your warm season and cool season vegetables separately.

Once this is done, you will have an idea of how much space you are going to have for your fall vegetable garden. This allows you to determine which fall vegetables to plant and how much seed you will need. Figure out as well if you want vegetables that can be directly sown in the garden or transplanted as seedlings. Although if you don’t have that much time, it’s better to consider the latter for a quicker yield since you can just purchase seedlings at your local garden store.

Just like in any other season, you should also amend the soil before planting. Add organic matter to improve soil fertility to help your fall vegetables to grow healthier. Do this at least two weeks before you start to sown seeds or transfer the seedlings, although it is okay to plant earlier if you don’t have time. The two-week timeframe just allows the soil to assimilate the nutrients first.

What to Plant in Your Fall Vegetable Garden

There are a wide variety of fall garden plants out there. Below, we’ll explore two different categories of these plants so you can find ones that work for you: 

Easy to Maintain Plants/Low Maintenance

Like all plants, low-maintenance fall garden plants still need to be cared for. However, they are much more forgiving and have simple instructions, making them great for beginners. Here are a few of them:

  • Arugula
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Spinach

High Yielding Plants

If you’re looking for a great harvest this fall, you’ll have more success with these plants:

  • Cucumber
  • Potatoes
  • Winter squashes
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Carrots

How to Start Seeds for Your Fall Vegetable Garden

While you don’t have to start all of your fall vegetable plants’ seeds, it is important to know which ones may need them. The ones that do will grow larger and provide you with a better harvest when started.

There are no rules on what you can start indoors and directly sow outdoors. It will depend on your personal preference, location, and previous experience.

For fall vegetables, some of those that may need to be started indoors are broccoli, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes. On the other hand, fall vegetables like arugula, beets, cucumbers, radishes, and squash do not require it.

To start seeds for your vegetable garden, you need a bowl, seedling tray, seed-starting soil mix, fluorescent or LED grow lights, heat mat, spray bottle, watering can, plant labels, and the seeds. Start off by filling in a large bowl with a seed-starting soil mix and putting a little water to moisten it. Then, put it into your seed tray.

Once that is done, you can now sow your seeds. Sprinkle a few seeds in each cell so that you’ll have some backups in case certain seeds don’t germinate. Sprinkle a little bit of soil on top of the seeds and dampen the surface with water.

You can now cover the tray and place it under your lights. If you have one, place the tray above a heat mat to increase the chances of germinating seeds indoors.

How to Plant Your Fall Vegetable Garden

Once you’ve prepared space for your fall garden vegetables and started seeds indoors for those crops that may need it, you can sow seeds and transplant seedlings to their permanent beds. Make sure that you take note of your location’s frost date to ensure each vegetable will have enough time to grow. Some crops like potatoes, peas, and beans require more time before they are ready for harvest, so they need to be sowed or transplanted as early as possible.

Just like in any other season, be sure to water your seeds and transplants regularly. You must also keep the soil moist throughout the season to ensure a better harvest.

How and When to Harvest your Fall Vegetable Garden

Fall vegetables have different time frames before they are ready for harvest. Just make sure to harvest them before full maturity.

To give you an idea of how long you should wait before harvesting your fall vegetables after they’ve been sown or transplanted, here are some examples:

  • Beans (12 weeks)
  • Beets (9 weeks)
  • Broccoli (11 weeks)
  • Carrots (11 weeks)
  • Lettuce (9 weeks)
  • Potatoes (15 weeks)
  • Radishes (5 weeks)
  • Spinach (7 weeks)

Fall Specific Things to Remember When Planning and Working in Your Vegetable Garden

Here are some tips to remember when planning and working in your fall vegetable garden:

  • Considering that growing days in the fall are limited, so it’s typically better to choose vegetables that mature easily
  • Determine the frost date in your area. It is important to know so you can prepare enough time for your fall vegetables to grow and be ready for harvest before winter comes.
  • Add a layer of mulch to the surface of the soil. This will insulate the root zone and hold in the moisture of your fall vegetables.

Wrap Up

The crisp fall weather may make it look like it’s more difficult to grow crops. However, there are actually vegetables that prefer cool temperatures, allowing them to grow better in the fall. To ensure success in your fall vegetable gardening, make sure to carefully select crops that can grow better in fall and determine if they have enough time to be harvest-ready before the frost date in your area. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits — or in this case, vegetables — of your labor.