Planting for a Fall Garden Harvest


The organic fall vegetable garden
The organic fall vegetable garden

August brings bounty, when seemingly every crop is ripe and every harvest basket heavy.

Zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, lettuces, onions, garlic, beans, new potatoes, and more.  And I can’t forget about the basil, parsley, thyme, and sage, plus the cut flowers, brightening the fields and kitchen table.

It’s a month when the end of harvest season feels far away—with all the crops rolling in, and September sure to bring more, it can feel as there’s nothing left to do but harvest.  But wait! Don’t put down your seed packets just yet. There are more successions to sow.

{Learn how to plan your succession plantings here.}

Early August is the perfect time to plant your fall vegetable garden.

When planting a fall garden, there are a few things to keep in mind: your first frost date (find it here), the change in daylight length, and the change in temperature.  As the days get shorter and cooler, crops will mature more slowly.  

You can compensate for this—what’s called the “fall factor—by planting earlier to meet your projected harvest date, and/or by extending your season by covering your crops with low tunnels or planting into a hoop house.  High Mowing Organic Seeds has a great primer on how to calculate for the fall factor.  

Fall Vegetable Crops to plant now for an autumn harvest:

Little gem lettuce growing in the fall vegetable garden
Little gem lettuce is perfect for fall growing


Some greens, like lettuce, Asian and mustard greens, and spinach have short days to maturity and can continue to be succession planted right up through the end of summer.  Many of these greens, like spinach, Asian and mustard greens actually grow better in the cooler days of fall.

Kale – Lacinato, Rainbow Lacinato, Olympic Red

Swiss ChardRainbow Chard

Collard Greens

Asian & Mustard Greens – Mizuna, Ruby Streaks, Arugula, Pac Choi

Lettuce – Black Seeded Simpson, Magenta, and “little gem” or mini-head varieties

Spinach – Butterflay, Regiment F1


Fall harvested root crops are our favorite!  Cooler nights condense the sugars in the roots, making them sweeter—carrots can even stay in the ground through a few light frosts, making them super sweet.  

When sowing in August, look for varieties with shorter days to maturity.  

plant organic carrots and beets in your fall vegetable garden

Carrots – Miami F1, Napoli F1

Beets – Boro F1, Detroit Dark Red, Touchstone Gold

Turnips – salad varieties: Hakurei F1 or Tokyo Market, and storage varieties:Purple Top and Golden Globe

Radishes – salad varieties: Celesta F1, Cherry Belle, and storage varieties: Watermelon, Daikon

plant watermelon radish for your fall vegetable garden
organic watermelon radish

And don’t forget these:


Cabbage – try a quick-growing cabbage like Golden Acre or Early Bird , and/or Napa Cabbage: Emiko F1

So ready, set, plant!  

Ensure a bountiful autumn harvest by planting now.  What crops will you be planting? Let me know in the comments below.

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