Fall vegetable gardens start as early as July, with early to mid-August being the peak time to plant.
The cooler weather in the fall is perfect for growing many types of vegetables, specifically those that grow well in cooler weather. Plant seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and lettuce (head, romaine, and bibb) by mid-August and harvest in October and November. Seeds of carrots, green beans, peas, winter radish, turnips, kale, and collards can be sown as early as July and up through mid-August. Crops of leaf lettuce, spinach, and radish can be sown anytime in August and early September and will mature before winter.
Depending upon the weather, most fall crops can be harvested well into November, and occasionally in December.
Flavors of these vegetables are improved with cooler weather. Many insect and disease problems don’t exist with fall crops.
Missouri has perfect weather for fall gardening. The days are warm for getting these plants started, but the nights are cool and the quality of these vegetables is usually better than spring-grown crops.
Tips on starting fall vegetable crops:
- Water-in seedlings with a solution of a liquid fertilizer.
- If the weather is hot at the time of planting, water at the time of planting, then water again 12 hours later. Check for water needs every day for the first week. After plants have become established, check watering two times per week.
- Mulch new transplants at the time of planting with straw or compost to reduce water evaporation, avoid soil compaction, and reduce weed competition.
- When sowing seeds, mulch as soon as seeds have germinated.
- Seeds don’t start growing until the soil has been moistened. If no rain is expected, the garden can be watered to encourage germination.
- Apply a garden fertilizer a few days after planting seedlings or after seeds have emerged.
- Keep weeds competition down through mulching, hand pulling, or cultivation. Weeding keeps the garden neater and easier for harvesting the vegetable crops. Weeding or cultivating also loosens the soil and improves production.