Fall Planting Cool Season Crops: When To Plant Crops In Fall

Garden With Rows Of Planted Crops
fall crop
(Image credit: Viktor_Kitaykin)

Fall season vegetable planting is a great way to get more use out of a small plot of land and revitalize a flagging summer garden. Plants that grow in cold weather do well in the spring, but they can do even better in the fall. Carrots, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli are actually sweeter and milder when they mature in cooler temperatures. Keep reading for information on fall season vegetable planting.

When to Plant Crops in Fall

Fall planting cool season crops only takes a little planning beforehand. To get plants that produce in cool weather, you’ll have to start them in late summer. Look up the average frost date for your area and count backward in time the days until maturity for your plant. (This will be printed on your seed packet. For the best yield, pick seed varieties with a quick time to maturity.) Then go back an additional two weeks for the “Fall Factor.” This refers to the fact that days in fall are shorter and make for slower growing plants than high summer. Whatever date you come up with is roughly when you should plant your fall crop. At this time in the summer, most stores won’t still be selling seeds, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and buy extra in the spring.

Plants That Grow in Cold Weather

Plants that grow in cold weather can be split into two groups: hardy and semi-hardy. Semi-hardy plants can survive a light frost, meaning temperatures around 30 to 32 degrees F. (-1 to 0 C.), but will die if the weather drops much colder. These plants include:

Hardy plants can survive multiple frosts and weather down into the 20s. These are:

All of these will be killed off if temperatures drop below 20 degrees F. (-6 C.), though mulched root vegetables can be harvested into winter even if their green tops have died, as long as the ground is not frozen.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.