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How to Plant Autumn Vegetables

2 Sep 2020 1:00 AM | Brenda Peshak

Lettuce and Autumn Vegetables

When to Plant Autumn Vegetables

September is here, and it is time to plant a second crop of vegetables for October harvest. Due to the dry and warm weather, the planting is somewhat delayed this year. Some seeds, like lettuce, will not germinate in soil warmer than 80 degrees. Rain and cooler weather will arrive sooner or later, so planting time is here!

How to Plant Autumn Vegetables

This  example of planting will be confined to containers. The first step is to hoe up and loosen the soil. Two of the beds received cocoa bean mulch after the spring crops were harvested, so little work is needed. Another bed still has tomatoes in it, and I will loosen the soil near them, and plant around them. By the time the fall crops are mature, the tomatoes will be history. A hoe without a handle works great for this purpose, as does a large trowel.

What Autumn Vegetables to Plant

These seeds all require shallow planting, so the next step will be to hoe several parallel trenches in each raised bed at about a quarter inch of depth. I will plant seeds thickly to allow for possible germination failure. The young plants can always be harvested for early greens, thinned, or pulled out. In the case of radishes, thinning is beneficial to allow for room to produce better roots. Other autumn crops would include microgreens, beets and spinach. Be creative and discover even more possibilities.

List of Cold Hardy Vegetables

You can find a complete list of cold hardy vegetables for early spring and fall here. For fall, the main thing is to look at your “dates to maturity” data on each seed packet. Then, add 7-14 days to this amount due to shorter day length, and temperatures which will be cooler as the season progresses. Consider when the first frost will be and if you plan to do any covering of crops. If you have a cold box that too can extend your season.

And don’t forget to stop by the Demonstration Garden to see what is growing in our vegetable garden! If you have questions about other late fall plantings in Iowa find answers from Iowa State Extension.

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