If you are looking to grow a fall garden, now is the time to start planning! It may be July, but your plants need a good head start before the fall arrives. This year it has been on the cooler and wetter side, so fall plants are likely to thrive!
Read on down below to see how to prepare for growing fall crops and what varieties I have selected this year!
This post contains affiliate links to West Coast Seeds.
Tips for How to Start Fall Crops
Identify your First Frost Date
Determining your first frost date is the first step to planning your fall garden. The first frost date is the first day of the year that temperatures will likely dip below 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This frost is strong enough to kill your summer plants and some fall varieties as well.
There are many online tools that are available that will help you determine your first frost date. I prefer the Almanac website. For me, my first frost date in Victoria is November 9th.
Choose Crops that will Mature by your First Frost Date
Once you have your first frost date, note that down, and determine how many days are left until your first frost date. For instance, if I am starting planting on July 10, there are 122 days before the first frost.
Once you know how many days are left for the season, choose crops and seeds that can achieve their full lifecycle by this date. Simply check the “Days to Maturity” label on your seed packets and if it fits within your timeframe (122 days), they will likely be good to plant. As a precaution, I also include the days required for the plants to germinate (often 7-10 days) and add that to my total days, just to be safe!
Include Cold-Tender and Cold-Hardy Crops
I like to re-sow spring and summer varieties of plants as well as plants that thrive in the cool fall weather. Cold-tender crops such as peas, radishes, cucumbers, and beans will get nipped by the first frost, but there still may be time to get a second bumper crop in your garden.
Cold-hardy crops such as cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and kale really appreciate and thrive in cooler weather and some vanities can handle cold and frosty temperatures.
Start Your Crops Indoors
Even though this summer has not been that hot, I am going to be starting my cold-hardy seeds indoors. It is still a bit to warm to start cold-hardy plants outdoors and you want to ensure that your plants germinate and get off to a healthy start. If it’s too hot, some cold-hardy varieties will not even germinate, so take your seeds indoors where it is cooler and give them the best start!
Once the plants get established, I will transplant them outdoors in late August/early September once the weather is still warm, but not as hot. This allows the plants to get established and growing before the first frost arrives.
Fall Crops that I am Growing this Year
Carrots are at the top of my list for sowing. If you are looking to have a fall harvest for carrots, it is ideal to sow them in early to mid- July for them to grow in time for fall. I find that they keep nicely in the ground over winter here on southern Vancouver Island, and they get sweeter over time.
There are two types of carrots that I will be sowing:
Broccoli & Cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower are great fall crops to plant as they really thrive under cool weather conditions. Last year, I planted my broccoli and cauliflower a bit too late for a fall harvest, but they overwintered extremely well and I have been slowly harvesting them all spring.
SHOP BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER
This year has affirmed that I have to grow my own scallions at home. I use them so often in my recipes and daily cooking and I fly through them like crazy! I have been enjoying the Eiffel and Red Beard scallion varieties slowly throughout the summer and I have been succession sowing them every 2-3 weeks. I am very excited to try the Red Beard scallions in the fall as apparently the red colour stands out more in cooler weather!
I have also opted to try growing shallots in my garden. I also use these fairly frequently in my cooking and I really want to be able to go outside and grab them from the garden!
Peas & Bush Beans
Since this summer has been so cool, I am going to try at growing another round of peas. This time, I want to try growing the Purple Mist variety to see what they taste like. They are a bit of a multi-purpose pea as young peas are similar to snow peas and can be eaten when they are tender. As the peas mature, they turn into a shelling-type pea that can be frozen and stored for the winter.
Bush beans are also on my list as they are growing super fast and I think I can definitely squeeze in another round of bush beans in the garden! They have a full maturity day of 55-60 days, so maybe I can even get two rounds in. I am sticking to my Maxibel Filet and Royal Burgundy bush beans for this year!
SHOP PEAS & BUSH BEANS
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are always is my garden throughout the year. However, when cool weather comes around, I love to have tons of spinach and kale. Both of these crops thrive in cool fall temperatures, and kale even survives winter here on southern Vancouver Island. Here are some of my favourite varieties to grow: