Summer days are waning but for gardeners in USDA zone 7 that doesn’t have to mean the last of the fresh garden produce. Okay, you may have seen the last of the garden tomatoes, but there are still plenty of veggies suited for zone 7 fall planting. Planting fall gardens extends the gardening season so you can continue to use your own fresh produce. The following fall garden guide for zone 7 discusses fall planting times and crop options in zone 7.
About Planting Fall Gardens
As mentioned, planting a fall garden extends the harvesting season beyond summer produce. Fall harvest can even be extended further by providing frost protection by planting in cold frames or hotbeds.
Many vegetables adapt well to fall planting. Among these, of course, are the cool season veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowerand carrots. In zone 7, spring temperatures often heat up rapidly, causing crops like lettuceand spinachto bolt and become bitter. Fall is a great time to plant these tender greens.
A little planning will go a long way prior to zone 7 fall planting. Below is a fall gardening guide for zone 7 but it is intended as a guideline only. Planting times may be off by as much as 7-10 days depending upon your exact location within this zone. To get a better idea of when to plant, determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall and then count backwards from that date, using the number of days to maturity for the crop.
Fall Planting Times in Zone 7
Rutabagasthat take between 70-80 days to mature can be planted anytime from July 1 to August 1.
Beetstake between 55-60 days to mature and can be planted from July 15-August 15. Broccolivarieties that mature within 70-80 days can also be planted from July 15 to August 15. Varieties of collard greens that mature within 60-100 days can be planted at this time too.
Most cabbagevarieties can be planted from August 1 to August 15, as can cucumbers– both pickling and slicing. Kohlrabi, turnips, most lettuces, mustard, and spinachcan all be planted around this time too.
Onionsthat mature between 60-80 days can be planted from September 1 to September 15 and those that reach maturity within 130-150 days can be planted from up to the end of this month.
In some parts of zone 7, October is essentially frost free, so some crops can be started even later for a really late fall harvest. Crops such as beets, Swiss chard, kaleand kohlrabican all be sown at the beginning of September. Collardsand cabbagescan be transplanted at this time.
Chinese cabbage, parsley, peasand turnipscan all be sown in the second week of September. Leaf lettuce can be planted until October 1 and mustard greens and radisheswill still have time to grow if in the ground by October 15.
If you plan on trying to capture these later dates, be prepared to cover the beds with burlap or floating row covers. You can also protect individual plants using milk jugs, paper caps or water walls. Also, if a hard freeze is imminent, mulch heavily around root crops such as carrots and radishes.