While northern gardeners typically think of March, April and May as the time for planting, July and August are also a great times to plant vegetables for a fall harvest. Many vegetables grow quickly enough that you can replant them for a succession planting or replace them with some quick growing plants.
What can you plant now for a fall harvest? Here are six suggestions:
Lettuce: With growing times generally in the six to eight week range and a love of cooler temperatures, you can plant lettuce now through mid-August for a fall harvest in September and October. The key to extending your lettuce growing season is to start seeds indoors where temperatures are consistently mild. Start them under lights or in a sunny room and transplant them outdoors after they have a few leaves. Lettuce can even be planted in shadier spots now and will still produce a decent harvest. One more tip: choose varieties that are cold tolerate so you can keep them outside as temperatures dip.
Bush Beans: Bush-type green beans grow quickly and produce prolifically. Unlike lettuce, you want to plant the bean seeds outdoors. They'll love the warm soil and hot temperatures. Keep them watered and before you know it, you'll be harvesting green beans for a September dinner.
Basil. Let some of your spring-planted basil go to flower for the pollinators and start new plants for your pesto. Basil germinates easily outdoors and grows well in pots. If you don't have seeds, check out your local garden centers. They may have plants on sale!
Radishes. With 30 days or less to harvest, you can plant radishes in mid-August or even early September for a fall harvest. They like the cooler temperatures and are a good plant to fill in holes in the vegetable garden. Check your seed stash — you probably have some packs of radish seed there.
Turnips. Turnips make a great fall harvest because those grown in late summer and fall actually taste sweeter than those grown in spring. Turnip varieties vary in how long they take to mature with some, such as Tokyo Cross, taking only 35 days to mature. The traditional red-topped turnip requires 55 days. Wait to sow your turnips until early August or later. Another earthy option is kohlrabi, which takes 45 to 60 days to harvest, and has a similar taste to turnips.
Greens. Greens, such as kale, spinach and arugula, can be planted in late summer for another fall harvest. These grow fast, from just 45 days for arugula and spinach, to about 60 days for kale. One advantage of greens for the late-season gardener is that they can be harvested as baby greens for a tasty addition to your salad.
What will you be planting for a fall harvest?
Enjoy valuable northern gardening tips all year long—join the hort!