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.