Best Way to Plan for a Fall Kitchen Garden

July 22, 2023

This time of year, we are usually so preoccupied with our tomatoes and peppers, that we forget now is the time to plan for a fall kitchen garden! And time is of the essence, if we want to harvest before our first frost date! Below, we will walk through the key things you need to know as you plan for a fall kitchen garden.

plan for a fall kitchen garden

Let’s Start to Plan for a Fall Kitchen Garden

First, let’s start with what you still have time to grow this year! This answer will be different for all of us, depending on our individual grow zone. But I have an easy formula that can help you figure out what you can include in your plan for a fall kitchen garden. To work this formula, you will need the following information:

  • Days to harvest – Can be found on the seed packet or a quick Google search for your variety
  • Ideal temp – This will be a range that is usually found on the seed packet
  • Current Date 
  • Historical temperature data – You can find historical temperatures for your area all the way back to 1930 right here

Let’s work this formula together! I’m going to use this Burgandy Broccoli from Botanical Interests as an example:

  • Days to harvest – 68-75 days
  • Ideal temp – 60-85 degrees
  • Current date + days to harvest = September 30, 2023
  • Historical temperature data for September 30, 2022 in Seattle, WA
    • High temp – 69 degrees
    • Low temp – 54 degrees
    • Day average temp – 60 degrees

Given that the average temperature in 68 days will still be within the range of the ideal temperature on the seed packet, I feel confident this would be a good vegetable to include in my plan for a fall kitchen garden! 

A couple of things to note, there are some vegetables that are tolerant of temperatures below their ideal range. Some of them are even able to overwinter. It’s okay to take some chances with these vegetables if the historical temperature is not exactly within the ideal temperature range.

Another important thing to note is we have absolutely no control over the weather. What happened last year may be completely different than what will happen this year. This is the reality of gardening – and most gardeners grow to enjoy the challenge of keeping their vegetables alive despite the weather! 

At the end of this blog post, you will find a list of cool weather crops that you may want to include in a plan for a fall kitchen garden. Always make sure to check the seed packet or a quick Google search to get the exact information for your variety.

Ways to shorten grow time

If you have your heart set on a particular vegetable for your fall garden, but it falls too far out of the ideal temperature range – all hope is not lost. Buying plant starts is an excellent way to give your fall garden a head start. These starts are usually 3-4 weeks ahead in growth and will save you time compared to direct sowing seeds. Keep an eye out at your local nursery for starts as you plan for a fall garden.

Ways to lengthen your grow season

Some gardeners will keep their garden going year round, despite cold temperatures. And they do so with cloches or poly tunnels. A cloche is like a mini-greenhouse for your garden bed. It includes a frame around your garden bed, which can be purchased or DIY constructed using rebar and PVC pipe. Over the frame is a transparent plastic cover that will hold in the heat and moisture, while still allowing the sunlight to reach the plants. 

Don’t have space yet?

Oftentimes, our gardens are already filled up with our summer garden veggies – and we aren’t done with them yet. Maybe we haven’t even harvested from them yet! Don’t let that stop you from planting your fall garden.

One way to get a head start on your fall garden is to start the seeds outside of the garden bed – in a seed starting tray. Another way is to direct sow your fall seeds amongst your summer vegetables. For example, if you want to grow carrots in your fall garden, you can direct sow carrot seeds along the edge of your tomato plants. (By the way, tomatoes and carrots are excellent companion plants!)

Kitchen Garden Seasonal Planning Guide

If you are looking for more inspiration and information to plan for a fall kitchen garden, then the Kitchen Garden Seasonal Planning Guide will be an excellent resource. This free 24-page guide provides sample garden plans for each season, seasonal garden tasks, space for you to plan your own garden beds, a BONUS Weekly Garden Log, and more. If you want to try out the Seasonal Planning Guide for your fall kitchen garden, you can download it below!

Quick growing vegetables for your fall garden

45-65 days
  • Arugula
  • Cress
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Pac Choi
  • Radishes

Longer growing vegetables that you may be able to plant for fall harvest

60-90 days – (use formula above to determine)
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Peas
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

Vegetables that can overwinter

(may need a cloche depending on your low temps during the winter)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Collards
  • Fava Beans
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Spinach

If you still have question about how to plan for a fall kitchen garden, then let’s set up a garden coaching session! You can check out coaching session options here, and feel free to reach out with questions.

Happy gardening!

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