It’s easy to think that the only time to sow vegetable seeds is spring and summer. But in many parts of the country fall is the perfect time to plant seeds for fresh harvests in late fall, early spring, and even mid-winter.
In early autumn, before hard frost sets in, the soil retains a lot of warmth. Couple that with seasonal rains and you’ve got perfect conditions for quick germination. Sow right now and even if you don’t get enough growth for eating this fall, many of these fall-planted crops will pop up super early in spring and give you great eating way before you think possible.
Mulch your fall-sown crops once they emerge. Good news: snow itself can act as a soft, thick blanket for young crops.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Greens, greens, greens. Plant seeds of any type of kale, as well as chard, mustard greens, brussel sprouts, spinach, collards, and even lettuce. I mix different leftover seeds together for a bed of mixed greens.
- Radishes. Some radish varieties mature in four weeks or less. So check for the fast-growing kinds and enjoy crispy, delicious radishes by Thanksgiving. The tops are good too. Lay off the manure, or the roots won’t plump up.
- Miner’s lettuce. Extremely cold hardy, this delightful low-growing green can even establish itself as a perennial, returning early each spring.
- Onion sets. Often available in autumn as well as spring, the little onion bulblets called “sets” produce fantastic scallions in just a few weeks. Onion seed can work too, but sometimes mice munch on the tiny new shoots.
- Leeks. Leeks just love cold, wet weather.They take a long time to mature, so go ahead and plant some seeds in fall for a late spring harvest.
Make late season gardening easier by labeling all your planted areas. I especially like how Sow True Seed’s plant labels can go right through winter’s rain, snow, and ice.