Late season crops

Hard to believe but most people are beginning to enjoy the harvest of the spring planting but it’s time to start thinking about those late-season crops. It’s important to first know the average date of the first killing frost in your area, such as Zone 5 would be early- to mid-October. Then you would need to consider the maturity days for each crop and count backwards from there. Some plants can tolerate a light frost so make sure you check the growing instructions to determine what temperatures your crop can handle.

There are some things that can be done to help extend your growing season. Placing crops beside a windbreak or wall can often create a microclimate adding up to 15 degrees to the growing area. Cold frames are another valuable tool in extending seasons. There are commercial ones available or you can make your own.

Here are some suggested late-season crops: At 90 days to maturity, or planting by mid-July for most of the growing areas, try tomatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, globe onions, brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower. Crops with a 60-day maturity include green beans, early carrots, leeks, turnips, kohlrabi, early cabbages, collards, swiss chard, perennial herbs and winter cauliflower. For 30-day maturity look for radishes, broccoli, bunching onions, leaf lettuces, mustard, and spinach.

Many of these grow well in cold frames, extending your season even more. Remember to keep a record of when you planted and when the first frost hits. This will help you in the future to know precisely when to plant for late fall harvest.

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  • Reply
    August 12, 2008 at 4:06 am

    DURINg which months can I start my vegetable garden here in Miami Fl ZOne 11? Can I start my garden at any time here in Miami? Thanks

  • Reply
    August 19, 2008 at 4:05 am

    Planting in Zone 11 is a bit upside down from much of the country. For most warm season vegetables you’re planting, like beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash, or tomatoes, your planting season is going to begin in Aug and Sept. Some may be later. Be sure to check your maturity time to verify that temps will remain in the ideal range for your particular crop. For cool season crops like cabbage, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach, you’ll need to wait a little longer–until September or October. Southern Florida, including Miami, presents some particular problems: Make sure you check your soil pH. For sandy soil, if you’re between 5.5 and 7, you won’t need any adjustments.

  • Reply
    Cathy Adkins
    August 25, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    As a novice gardner & late starter, could you tell me what I might plant in North Texas (Dallas/Fort Worth)now for harvest later. It sure is hot now, but know Sept & Oct are on their way.


  • Reply
    September 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I live in Gainesville,Florida. When do I start my fall garden and what can I plant.

  • Reply
    September 4, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Dear Cathy, welcome to gardening. There are lots of things you need to consider in addition to what to plant. You will want to know your soil pH, as some plants are really picky about acidity or alkalinity. This will also let you know if you need to add some organic material to your soil. Organic matter includes decomposed manure, compost, and decomposed leaves. Also make sure you know how many hours of sun your plants are going to receive. Most vegetables need full sun (at least six hours) to do well and thrive.

    When choosing vegetable plants for fall planting, you will need to first check the maturity time from seedling to mature fruit and then will need to know when your typical first frost is. Late August is OK to plant tomatoes and beans, watermelons and cantaloupes, as temperatures begin to cool. In mid- to late September, you can start planting such things as lettuce, Swiss chard, and root crops. Into October look at planting onions, lettuces, greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and garlic. Into early November you can even replant more of those cool season crops. Keep some crop covers handy for any early frosts that might sneak in. Happy planting!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2008 at 5:07 am

    Dear Betty, Late season crops for Gainesville Florida:

    You should still be getting some summer crops to do well, like tomatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes. In the fall and winter garden, remember to water when times are drier.

    Here are some veggies that prefer October over March:

    Broccoli: Plant transplants now through December.
    Brussels sprouts: Harvest can begin about 85 days from planting seeds; shorter for transplants.
    Carrots: Long and thin or short and stubby, carrots love winter.
    Cauliflower: These are fussier about temperatures and will bolt (go to seed) if an extended cold spell (35-50 degrees) is followed by warm weather. They also don't like the moisture content to fluctuate widely.
    Chinese cabbages: They will bolt (flower and go to seed) if there is an extended warm spell.
    Collards: They can be grown in Florida’s warm season as well as cold, as they are very frost hardy.
    Kale: Kale matures in two months.
    Kohlrabi: They can be harvested about two months from direct seeding, when they are about 3 inches in diameter. The leaves are also edible.
    Lettuce: There are many lettuces and they grow like crazy in the winter.
    Onions: Bunching onions, leeks, shallots and bulbing onions the GranX types that produce Florida Sweets and Vidalias need to be planted in October in order to form the swollen roots next spring. Be sure to get short-day varieties. Garlic should also be planted in winter. Chives grow best in cool weather, too.
    Peas: English peas, which need to be shelled, and sugar peas and snap peas, which have edible pods, thrive in cool, moist weather.
    Spinach: This vegetable prefers very cold soil to germinate.
    Swiss chard: You can harvest leaves 60 days from seeding; steam the leaf and chop the midrib. Don't cook Swiss chard in an aluminum pot; the chard contains oxalic acid, which will discolor the pot.
    Turnips: These mature in two months from direct-seeding; they germinate in less than a week.

  • Reply
    rewards zone
    September 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    my reward zone…

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