How to Create the Perfect Fall Garden

By: Leah Stapleton Fall, Gardening guide, How to

The cooler weather of brisk fall days doesn’t mark the end of your garden’s harvest. Planting the right crops for fall will allow you to continue to enjoy fresh, homegrown vegetables and herbs even after the temperatures begin to soften. Crisp fall weather favors a harvest of  leafy greens, herbs, and root crops.

Get a head start during the mid- to late-summer months in order to create a flourishing garden for fall.

8 crops for a fall garden

1. Broccoli

Rich in essential vitamins and nutrients, broccoli is a cool-season crop. A staple in many fall gardens, broccoli flourishes in full sun and moist, fertile soil. Broccoli is a great candidate for the center of your fall garden.

Seeds should be planted about a half-inch into the soil and about 85 to 100 days before the average first fall frost in your area. You can consult the Farmer’s Almanac for your area’s frost times. The plants should be spaced about 12 to 24 inches apart with about 36 inches between each row.

Broccoli does well in moist environments, so it’s important to keep up with regular watering. Fertilize plants about three weeks after planting to ensure a plentiful crop.

Broccoli can be harvested when the heads are firm and tight, before they flower. Harvest immediately if you do see petals.

2. Kale

Kale is a resilient, leafy green perfect for growing in fall weather. Cool temperatures bring out a nutty, sweet flavor unique to this plant.

Kale should be planted about six to eight weeks before the first fall frost. Kale does best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade as well. Kale would be a great candidate for the center of your garden, as the plants need at least six hours of sunlight daily to become stocky and leafy.

This vegetable thrives in cool, moist soil, so provide the plant with a steady supply of water—at least one to two inches per week. The perfect time to harvest this green is in the fall after the plants have been touched by a light frost, when the leaves are the sweetest.

Left Broccoli is a bitter yet pleasing member of the cabbage family

Right Kale is nutty and tough, but loaded with nutrients

3. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a member of the beet family and does well in both cool and warm temperatures.

Seeds should be planted about 40 days before the first fall frost for optimal harvest and about half an inch to three quarters of an inch into primed soil. Space the seeds about 18 inches apart in wide rows with about eight to ten seeds per row.

Once the seeds have grown to about three to four inches tall, prevent overseeding by spacing them at least four to six inches apart. The plants should be watered evenly and often, especially during the warmer bouts of late summer.

Chard can be harvested once they are about six to eight inches tall.

Swiss Chard Chard is rich in vitamins, potassium, and fiber

4. Rosemary

Rosemary is a perennial evergreen shrub with distinct blue flowers. It has a sweet yet earthy flavor and a piney aroma that adds smoky depth to any recipe. Moderate fall temperatures are perfect for this herb. Rosemary thrives in full sun and prefers soil that isn’t too moist.

Most importantly, rosemary needs space to grow. It’s ready to harvest once the plant is established and new growth is seen. You can begin taking daily cuttings for culinary use after about six weeks.

5. Cilantro

Cilantro is another herb that grows well in crisp fall weather. This bright herb thrives when planted in the corner of a vegetable garden. Cilantro grows rather quickly and can be harvested to reseed.

Cilantro does best in full sun and well-drained soil. However, it can also withstand light shade and slight frost. Cilantro should be planted about 12 to 18 inches apart about a month before the last fall frost.

Cilantro can be harvested continuously by cutting the leafy stems near ground level.

6. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a strong cool-season crop. It does not tolerate extreme heat or cold well and grows best in climates where temperatures consistently remain in the 60s (Fahrenheit).

Cauliflower needs to receive at least six hours of full sun daily and should be planted in moist, nutrient-rich soil. Seeds should be planted about four to five weeks before the average first frost of fall once temperatures begin dropping under 75°F.

Plant cauliflower seeds in rows about three to six inches apart and about a half-inch into the soil. Seeds should be watered consistently to nurture their growth, receiving about one to two inches of water per week.

The plants can be harvested once the heads have become compact, milky-white, and firm.

Left Rosemary is a sweet, smoky herb

Center Cilantro is bright packing a powerful taste

Right Cauliflower is another hearty member of the cabbage family

7. Parsley

Parsley is a familiar herb with green, feather-like leaves. The plant creates lush foliage and can be planted as a border along the edges of a garden.

Parsley can flourish in full sun or partial shade but always requires moist, dense soil. The soil should be watered and kept moist as the plant grows. Once the plant is established, parsley can be continuously harvested by cutting the leafy stems from the base of the plant.

8. Carrots

Carrots make a fantastic fall crop. Perfect for warmer climates, carrots need more lead time—about 10 to 12 weeks to grow and thus should be planted about three months before the first expected fall frost. They should be planted in smooth soil about a quarter inch deep. Plant carrot seeds in a grid, about three inches away from each other.

The plot should be kept moist at all times, but be careful not to wash away the tiny seeds.

Carrots can be harvested as soon as they show color and are a good size for eating, typically about eight weeks after planting.


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