Grow Year-Round: What to Plant for Fall & Winter Harvest, by Region
There’s no denying it: people across the country are jazzed about growing their own. But food self-sufficiency doesn’t have to be limited to the summer months, and taking advantage of the possibilities in fall, winter and spring can save a lot of money (and the resources needed to transport food from distant locales).
The secret to growing your own food year round (even in areas with cold winters) mainly has to do with variety selection, timing and season extension techniques--and these vary by where you grow. So we’ll look at the fall and winter crops you can grow and the last date they should be planted by for each region. For each crop, it is a good idea to try planting several successions a few weeks apart--this way you will learn which fall planting dates produce the best results for each crop in your area.
Mark your calendars! Growing food in the north is limited by both the number of frost-free days and the amount of daylight we receive. The frost issue can be handled by using season-extending row covers, low tunnels, coldframes or hoophouses, which protect plants from hard frosts, allowing them to continue growing much longer than they would outdoors. But the light issue is pretty unavoidable—once the day-length drops below 10 hours, plant growth essentially grinds to a halt. This means that it’s really important to get your timing right so that fall crops are basically mature before this date.
- Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips & Rutabagas – direct sow by end of July. Try: Rhonda F1 Beets, Napoli F1 Carrots, Lancer Parsnips, Purple Top White Globe Turnips, Joan Rutabaga
- Lettuce, Spinach, Mache and Claytonia – start transplants by end of August. Try: Lettony, Rhazes, Spretnak & Red Oak Leaf Lettuces, Butterflay and Giant Winter Spinach, Vit Mache, and Claytonia
- Asian & Mustard Greens, Beet Greens, Arugula, Scallions & Radishes – direct sow by end of August. Try: Vitamin Green, Bull’s Blood Beet Greens, Grazia Arugula, Evergreen Hardy Scallions, Ostergruss or Watermelon Radishes
Southern growers typically have more flexibility when it comes to planting dates, since the first frost is much later and light levels remain higher throughout the winter. This means that a wider variety of crops can be grown—depending on the specific area, it can be more like a whole “second season” than an extension of the main growing season.
- Beans – direct sow by the end of July. Try: Jade, Strike or Rattlesnake Beans
- Broccoli, Collards, Eggplant & Summer Squash – start transplants by end of July. Try: Belstar F1 Broccoli, Georgia Collards, Ping Tung Long Eggplant, Dunja F1 Zucchini & Success PM Straightneck Summer Squash
- Beets, Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips, Greens, Parsley, Cilantro & Peas – direct sow by end of August. Try: Red Ace F1 Beets, Danvers 126 Carrots, Lancer Parsnips, Scarlet Ohno, Golden Globe & Purple Top White Globe Turnips, Joan Rutabaga, Red Giant Mustard Greens, Green Arrow, Cascadia & Oregon Sugar Pod II Peas
- Cabbage, Kale & Kohlrabi – start transplants by end of August. Try: Capture F1 Cabbage, Vates Kale & Kossak F1 Kohlrabi
- Garlic & Onions – direct sow by end of September. Try: Music & Inchelium Red Garlic, Valencia & Gabriella F1 Onions
Growers in the northwest have a unique climate characterized by relatively moderate temperatures all year round. This means that the area is exceptionally well-suited to multiple successions of fall and winter crops that wouldn’t survive exposed to the elements, but do just great with the protection of hoophouses or low tunnels.
Broccoli, Cauliflower & Greenhouse Tomatoes – start transplants by end of June. Try: Belstar F1 Broccoli, Janvel F1 or Veronica F1 Romanesco Cauliflower, and Caiman F1, Roni F1, and Arbason F1 Tomatoes
- Kale – start transplants by end of July. Try: Olympic Red, Vates Kale or Lacinato Kale
- Lettuce & Overwintering Sweet Onions – start transplants by mid-August. Try: Lettony, Rhazes, Spretnak & Red Oak Leaf Lettuces, Walla Walla Onions
- Garlic & Spinach – direct sow by end of September. Try: Inchelium Red & Nootka Rose Garlic; Abundant Bloomsdale, Renegade F1 and Regiment F1 Spinach
- Winter Greenhouse Tomatoes & Cucumbers – start transplants by mid-December. Try: Socrates F1, Manny F1 and Saber F1 Cucumbers
To learn more about fall and winter growing, check out our other resources:
- Brassicas Rule! A Fall Planting Guide
- Don’t Forget About Fall! Seeding Now for Autumn Abundance
- Planning for your Fall Crops – Start now!
- Tips for Planning Your Winter Harvest