Fall is quickly approaching so naturally I’ve been contemplating what vegetables can I plant in September? With summer coming to an end this month signals the opportune time to start a fall garden. There are many advantages to gardening past the spring and summer, but my biggest reason for September gardening is simple — It’s easier than summer since there are fewer pests and issues in cooler weather.
A fall “cover” crop will also organically defend and build up your soil as well if you do follow up with planting next spring. Here’s a handy fall garden guide to assist your planning on what to sow now so you can enjoy your harvest into the winter.
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Veggies considered to be root vegetables are those that grow under the soil. Many of these varieties can be sown and harvested year-round. Some do better when planted in late summer/early fall before the first frost. A prime time for planting root vegetables for fall gardening is mid-September. Depending on what zone you live, however, you will need to factor when the first frost is predicted to allow time for germination.
So, let’s get to the root of the question – what vegetables can I plant in September to yield a fall/winter harvest!? Root crops like carrots, onions and turnips will keep within the ground in cold climates. They will need to be harvested before the ground freezes so keep this in mind. Here’s a little tip – add mulch atop the soil to help in minimizing the ground from freezing and also keep soil moist.
Carrots are a relatively hardy vegetable. They’re going to stand up to weather and a light frost. Planting in September and into October will guarantee a late winter harvest. Carrots thrive in well-draining, fertile soils that contain organic matter. They grow best at temperatures ranging between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare your plot by sifting the soil to remove any hard clumps or rocks and dig about 12 inches deep. Rows should be about a foot to a foot and a half apart. Sow carrot seeds thinly, and cover with fine garden soil. Water lightly and keep the soil moist to keep the roots from drying out. Allow up to 8 weeks for growth then you can determine the size by digging around the base of the stem. Harvest once they reach optimal size for eating, preferably before the ground freezes as they will start to rot.
Onions could be a cool season plant that grows well in an exceedingly wide selection of temperatures. Young onion plants are pretty resilient against frost. These root vegetables can grow in all varieties of soil, from sandy to clay. They’ll do well sown from seeds or transplanting; my recommendation would be to grow from transplanting young bulbs to yield larger bulbs when you’re ready to harvest.
Onion seeds will germinate well at soil temperatures between 45 to 80- degrees Fahrenheit! Use moist, fertile soils with sufficient drainage for ideal growth. Another factor when planning what vegetables can I plant in September is what varieties compliment each other when planting! For example – Onion plants will grow very favorably next to carrots as the carrots naturally deter common pests. Beets and cabbage are also great options to plant near your onions to improve growth and flavor quality. When planting from sets or transplanting – spread at least 3 to 4 inches apart at a depth of 2 inches into the soil. Water up to one inch per week.
Radishes mature exceedingly in a matter of weeks, thus it’s value as a late batch of seeds is perfect for fall gardening. You will probably even be able to harvest before the really cold temperatures reach freezing. Radishes grow best when planted from seed within the cooler seasons of the year.
Rake the soil to eliminate any massive dirt clumps. Sow seeds at a depth of ½ inch in the soil and ¾ of an inch apart. Plant rows that are 8 to 12 inches apart. Water gently so as not to wash away the seeds and keep the soil moist. Due to their fast maturity you should check your crop often for prime picking time. They will quickly become woody and bitter when left in soil too long.
Much like radishes, beets are root vegetables that can be grown well in the fall when planted 6-8 weeks out before the first frost. When sown at the ideal time beets can survive a light frost between 30 to 32-degrees Fahrenheit. With a covering for protection, they can even survive during the winter in mild winter zones (zones 6 and higher).
Beet seeds will grow quickly when sown in soil that is well-prepared, fertilized, and high in phosphorus. Sow seeds in soil at a depth of ½ inch and space 1 to 2 inches apart in rows. The greens of the beets can be harvested at any time throughout their growth and taste better when still small – 4 to 5 inches long. Beets take an average of 50 to 70 days to reach maturity based on variety.
Turnips are suitable cool-weather plants that may be planted in late winter, spring, or late summer before it gets too hot or freezes. In general, this implies planting seeds in March, April, or May, and if there’s enough time for a fall harvest, begin a brand new batch in early August or September.
The seeds of turnips grow favorably in warmer temperatures (above 40-degrees Fahrenheit) to sprout quickly and be ready to harvest before the first hard freeze. Based on the zone you live in early September should be prime time for sowing seeds. Dig your plot for the turnip seeds at a depth of 8 inches. Lightly scatter the seeds and rake into the top ¼ of the soil at a depth of up to ½ inch. Water lightly after sowing then keep the soil moist during dry spells without oversaturating the ground.
When looking to see what vegetables can I plant in September, I was a little surprised to learn that some leafy greens can be planted and harvested this time of the year. Certain veggies such as cabbage and cauliflower will germinate faster in warmer temperatures so transplanting from growing indoors may be ideal unless you live in warmer regions.
Lettuce may be a delicate vegetable but it’s one you could continue to grow all season long by planting one small crop at a time. When given ample time for the roots to establish these salad greens can withstand cold winters without protection. Arctic King Lettuce is one that is particularly resilient to the cold temperatures when sown in Autumn.
Plant lettuce from seeds 4-8 weeks before the primary frost. It grows best in temperatures varying from 45 to 75 degrees in full sun to partial shade. Thinly sow the seeds at a depth of ½ inch into the soil and 12 inches apart. Water frequently especially in the 2 weeks prior to harvesting. Prime harvesting time for leafy lettuces is typically 45 to 50 days after germination.
This is a hardy leafy green that will survive cold winters reaching temperatures below freezing. It can be grown similarly to lettuce under the right conditions. The seeds should be sown in soil temperatures lower than 70-degrees Fahrenheit for ideal germination.
For fall gardening spinach seeds should be sown directly into the soil as the seedlings do not transplant well. Plant spinach seeds 4 to 6 weeks ahead of the expected initial frost in full sun to partial shade. Sprinkle the seeds sowing approximately 12 seeds per row at a depth of ½ inch to 1-inch and cover lightly with soil. Water regularly to keep soil moist.
Kale is a hardy vegetable when planted at least 6 to 8 weeks ahead of the initial frost. Depending on what zone they’re grown in kale can be planted throughout the fall and produce an ideal taste when harvested well after the first frost. Their leaves are literally sweeter once they have matured in cooler weather.
Plant kale seeds in well fertilized, light, well-draining soil at a depth of ¼ to ½ inch into the soil. Once seedlings emerge you will need to thin them out to space them 8 to 12 inches apart. Water regularly but do not over-water.
Like Kale, collards are proven one of the hardiest cold-tolerant vegetables in leafy green varieties. The flavor of the leaves actually gets better after the initial frost much like kale. These are traditionally grown in warmer zones (8-10) to produce a winter harvest.
Plant Collards 6-8 weeks before the primary frost in soil that is moist and fertile. Sow seeds at least 3 feet apart as their leaves will require ample room for growth. You can thin the seedlings to 18 inches apart. Full sun to partial shade is suitable given they are permitted four hours of sun to produce the best overall flavor. Average maturity takes 60 to 75 days for optimal harvest time, although you can pick the leaves at any point once they’ve reached an edible size.
To determine what vegetables can I plant in September I had to know which zone was ideal for these plants. These vegetables are all capable of withstanding cold winters, though the time frame to sow is based largely on estimated time of the first frost. Temperature averages during this month will vary based on the region you live so keep this in mind when planning your fall garden. Happy harvesting!