When we think of fall, planting vegetables is typically not the first thing that comes to mind. We are usually focused on pumpkin harvests, changing of the fall leaves and preparing for cold winter nights. However, there are some “cool season” crops that can be planted in early fall that will provide us with the bounty of tasty vegetables come spring and summer.
Types of Vegetables
Many of the cool season varieties survive frosts very well. The best options are plants with hardy, edible leaves and roots. You can consider these for indoor gardening as well. Here are some more popular cool season veggies that are fit for fall in Ohio.
- Onions – Best if planted in bulb form, not seed. Plant four to six weeks before frost
- Peas – Sugar snap peas can be planted in the past eight to 10 weeks before the first frost.
- Radishes – You can plant radishes later than most other crops, but it is suggested four to six weeks before frost.
- Spinach/Lettuce/Kale – Can tolerate frost very well with their hearty leaves, but ideal to plant four to six weeks before first frost.
- Garlic – One of the first plants to come up in the spring, is best planted when the ground is cold, usually after the first fall frost.
You may also want to consider planting cover crops in your garden this season. These plants’ primary purpose is to fix nitrogen in the soil to help the growth of spring season crops. They also help with erosion and insect control and suppress weeds. Ohio cover crops can include legumes such as clovers, alfalfa and soybeans, and non-legumes like wheat, oats and rye. Ideally, in Ohio these can be planted anytime between September and late October and still take hold. The great thing about these annual crops are they do not have to be removed. They can be tilled right into the soil in the spring as you prepare for planting.
Starting Seeds Indoors
If you don’t want to mess with the changing weather and planting outdoors this season, you can set up an indoor growing area and transplant them outside once spring comes. If you decide this method, you have a great selection of vegetables to choose from that can sometimes be better off starting from seed indoors. Broccoli, eggplant and cabbage are just a few that adapt better to seeding indoors. For optimal germination, be sure to seed varieties that are suited for our region. As you get started, it is important to remember the following:
- Have the correctly sized containers to allow for plant growth
- Use fresh mix
- Sow seeds at correct depths
- Good access to water
- Have proper lighting
- Rule of Thumb: Plant in the ground after the first spring frost, typically around Mother’s Day
Planting vegetables in the fall not only extends the tasty results you will get from your garden when it comes harvest time, but also lets you and your family enjoy gardening a bit longer in the year. We hope that you get to reap the benefits of fall gardening this season!
Kimberly Whitton, Public Engagement Coordinator