Time to Get the Fall Vegetable Garden Started!

fall vegetable garden sunlight guide

I know, I know – it feels nothing like Fall right now! Despite a polar vortex-y beginning of August that was downright pleasant, Summer’s back with a vengeance here in flyover country: heat and humidity make any time outside miserable. But I also know that, come October, I’m going to really want a pot full of kale and white beans, and I’d love for that kale to come out of my backyard.  So, time to get the Fall vegetable garden started.

I’m thinking of my Fall garden as my do-over opportunity: I had critters get into the leafy greens early on, so my kale, spinach, and lettuce didn’t do nearly as well as I’d like. Also, several of my Summer vegetables didn’t do anything at all: no garden eggplant or bell peppers this year. So, if I can get another crop of greens, I’ll be happy…

We published a winter garden guide several years ago (which should still be helpful), but if you want some ideas based on this year’s issues and challenges, check out Becky Striepe’s brand-spanking-new Fall vegetable garden guide from Eat.Drink.Better (complete with the standard gorgeous graphics!). Once you’ve read through it, share your plans for cool end-of-the year gardening.

Fall Garden Guides for Your Vegetable Garden

Fall Garden Guides for Your Vegetable Garden

Are you planning a fall garden? Me too! Here are some handy resources to help us plan a fruitful (or veggie-ful!) food garden.

My summer garden was the pits this year. Even with the cool week of polar vortex weather here and there, this summer was a scorcher overall. And my poor plants paid the price. My sweet peppers wilted. My tomatoes never produced. And my herbs bolted sometime in July. All that I have to show for a summer of gardening is a handful of hot peppers. I’m hoping to make up for it with a more successful fall garden!

When you will plant and harvest depends on two major factors: where you live and how much sun your garden gets. In general, leafy plants like lettuces and greens do well in shade while root veggies and above-ground veggies like radishes or peas thrive in full sun. There’s a handy saying to help you remember:

Fall Garden Guides for Your Vegetable Garden

Take a peek at your garden to see where you get full sun for most of the day versus where you get a good bit of shade. You can choose what to plant based on how much sun and shade you have.

So, how do you know what to plant in your fall garden? That depends on what zone you live in. As a novice gardener, I thought that hardiness zones were above and beyond, but finding your zone can really make a difference. You can look up your zone using the tool on the USDA website.

Fall Garden Guides by Zone

Got your zone? You’re almost ready to plant! These planting guides are broken out by zone, so you can find out what you’ll be able to start from seed. If you missed the window to start any of the plants you wanted in your fall garden from seed, you may still be able to plant seedlings or starter plants!

Zones 1 & 2

Zones 3 & 4

Zones 5 & 6

Zones 7 & 8

Zones 9 & 10

Now that you’ve looked through the guides and picked out some plants, let’s talk fall garden plans, y’all! I’m in zone 7, and I have a raised bed and some pots that get full sun while the rest of my garden is pretty shady. My fall garden to-plant list is below, and I’d love to hear what you’re planting this fall!

+ beets

+ collard greens

+ carrots

+ onions

Not a long list, I know. But after my summer garden did so poorly, I’m looking to start slowly. Better to grow a few food plants than none at all, right?

Image Credits: Garden and Garlic photos via Shutterstock

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