Vegetable Gardening Series Part 6: The Fall Garden

Have you started your seeds for a fall garden yet?

In climates like Western Oregon, our vegetable gardens don’t have to end with the summer. Our last frost date is between October 15th and the 31st, depending on the area (and where you’re getting your information!) and with a little planning, we can fill the holes in the garden left by spring vegetables with fall ones and be able to continue harvesting into December.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest, see my Organic Vegetable Garden Checklist for specific times and varieties for fall planting (I’ve also heard from others that it’s helpful in other regions as well in the north with just a few alterations).

Remember, this checklist is just a guideline- I rarely am able to do all the things on the list! In fact, the seeds I started yesterday inside should’ve been started a couple weeks ago according to the checklist, but I adjusted it by looking at the “days to maturity” on some seed packets I had and chose varieties that will mature faster.

Here’s a list of the seeds I started inside yesterday to transplant out in about 4 weeks. I’ve never had any luck direct-seeding these at the height of summer. I guess I can’t keep them wet enough. Keep reading for some of my techniques on getting seeds to sprout that HAVE to be started out (i.e., carrots and beets).

  • Cabbage, Melissa and Chinese
  • Pac Choi, regular and baby
  • Broccoli, Packman and Purple Sprouting
  • Cauliflower, Cheddar, Graffiti, Early, (and Arbon for overwintering-maybe!)
  • Brussel Sprouts (a little late, hopefully they will be on for Thanksgiving)
  • Kale
  • Lettuces (have tried twice outside to no avail, so attempting inside)

In the picture above I haven’t turned the light on yet- I wait until some of the seeds have sprouted, remove the lids (or fancy taped plastic!) and turn the light on. Refer to my post on seed starting for illustrated details.

Out in the garden, I started these carrots (and some summer lettuce mix that didn’t come up) at the beginning of the month.

I really need to get some shade cloth, but for now I’ve used clothespins, hoops and row cover to give the seedlings a little shade. This just keeps them from drying out so fast. I’ll remove it once they’re really up and running.

I planted this bed of parsnips, beets, and carrots on July 13th. It was so hot, I had trouble keeping the bed watered enough for the seeds to sprout. One of the few downfalls of raised beds: the quick-draining quality that is so beneficial in the spring works against you in the summer!

It’s hard to see in the picture, but the beets have started to come up (parsnips are notoriously late in sprouting). This happened a couple of days after I did this to the bed:

I laid some old fence boards on top of the bed. It’s enough shade that enables the seeds to sprout. Of course, it doesn’t allow much sun, so I will remove them in a few more days. I’d like to see if anymore sprout first, though.

I encourage you to try some fall vegetables if your climate allows. The hardest part, really, is remembering to do it in July (and spinach and more lettuce can be sown in August…).






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