By Michael Jenkins
While we might typically think of spring and summer as our planting seasons, the reality is in many parts of the world planting can continue well into the fall months. So with autumn here in most of the US, let’s talk about what you can plant at this time of the year. For those of us living in Zones 7-9, now may actually be the ideal time to plant many fall and winter veggies and greens. Your local conditions may vary, and you should check with an experienced local gardener or your county agricultural extension first, but we’d like to offer a general guideline of what you can plant in October.
- Greens of all sortscan be planted successfully in the month of October, particularly in early October. Lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, mesclun mixes, mizuna . . . all are ideal for fall planting and in many parts of this zone will thrive through the winter with a little help and protection. Greens in general like rich, peaty soil and they need to be well-watered while they’re establishing themselves, but they’ll provide wonderful, versatile meals through the autumn season and maybe even into the winter.
- Carrots and beets may be planted at this time of year as well. While smaller or faster growing varietals may produce a crop before the freeze arrives, varietals that require a longer growing season may be planted with an eye towards a spring harvest. This is especially true of larger beet varietals, which grow best in the cooler months. These plants grow best in rich yet light and well-drained soil, so plant accordingly this October!
- Another set of crops you can plant in October, onions and garlictypically grow over the winter and are harvested in the spring. They do best in cooler weather, especially when planted in a light, rich soil and protected from over-watering. These plants don’t like to be crowded, so make sure that you give them plenty of space to develop and thrive.
- Peas of many varieties do best at this time of the year. They prefer cool or even cold air, grow quickly in many types of soil and under many conditions, and their roots serve to fix nitrogen in the soil and thus enrich it for future plantings. Snow peas, shell peas, and snap peas can all do well at this time forthe year, so do a little research and find out what varietals work best in your area.
- While it may seem counter-intuitive, strawberries are often best planted either in fall or early spring. While they probably won’t produce fruit until the weather warms up in the year to come, by planting them now you’ll ensure that they’re well established and able to give you plenty of delicious fruits when the time comes. Strawberries like sandy loam soil, with relatively low nitrogen in order to ensure maximum fruit production—too much nitrogen will give you plenty of leaves but little fruit!
We hope this brief guide to what you can plant in October helps you plan your fall garden. For many of us, it’s not too late to plant something new and enjoy it for months to come. If you have a fall garden or are starting one, please let us know! We love to see photos and hear stories about what you’re doing, so get in touch today.