At this point in the season, it can be tough to know whether or not you can keep certain crops productive or when to call it quits and plant something new. Learn how to get the most from your summer vegetable garden and what can be grown (and when) for fall and winter harvests.

Harvesting Summer Crops

As your summer crops begin to ripen, know when to harvest for ideal flavor and productivity:

  • Pick fresh peas, snap beans, and squash every day or two in the morning; produce degrades rapidly in hot weather
  • Harvest sweet fruit like berries, tomatoes, and melons when ripe to the touch and at the end of a warm day (avoid storing in refrigerator, cold temps degrade sugar content)
  • Select tender leaves of lettuce, spinach, and kale in the morning when freshest; pick outer leaves to allow young inner foliage to mature
  • Cut broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower heads when they are firm and tight; heads are usually smaller than when purchased at the store
  • Pick sweet corn when tassels are brown, husk is tight, and kernel liquid is milky
  • Dig potatoes, garlic, and onions when tops die back; allow soil to dry out before harvest
  • Winter squash and pumpkins are ripe when vines die back and fruit has a hard shell for storage (leave several inches of stem attached to avoid rot)
  • Harvest root crops when mature; store in refrigerator or leave in ground until needed

Add compost as top dressing/mulch for heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash, corn, and cucumbers. Water consistently and watch for powdery mildew and spider mites.

Sow seeds for late fall flowers to continue to feed pollinators: Borage, Nigella, Breadseed Poppy, California Poppy, etc.

Fall & Winter Vegetable Gardening

Select vegetable varieties that prefer to grow in cooler weather. Crops planted during summer may be ready between September and October or grown over the winter for harvest in early spring. Roots actually get sweeter with chilling, fewer pests are around, and some crops like cilantro and spinach are slower to bolt when planted in August. Use season extenders such as Harvest Guard to protect crops from frost.

Fall harvest for crops such as Asian greens, beets, carrots, cilantro, kale, lettuce, peas, and Swiss chard. Crops like Corn salad (mache), kale, leeks, Swiss chard, hardy brassicas, and greens (with protection) can survive the cold temperatures of winter but won’t grow much during the coldest months; they are generally harvested between November and late February.

Overwintering crops are meant to be tiny plants when winter sets in, and while they don’t grow much during winter, they are ready to harvest in early spring (March–April) and can withstand most of winter with occasional mild protection in severe weather. These crops include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, and kale. If grown under a cloche or cold-frame, Asian greens, cilantro, corn salad, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard can also be grown all winter. When planting, use an organic starter fertilizer low in nitrogen for slow, hardy growth. Use liquid fertilizer (higher nitrogen) in spring as plants begin to “wake up”. Continue active slug control during winter months, especially during mild, wet conditions.

Fall & Winter Veggie Planting Calendar

July

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery (starts)
  • Chicory or Radicchio
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (starts)
  • Overwintering Cauliflower or Broccoli
  • Radish
  • Snap beans

August

Seed outdoors:

  • Arugula
  • Asian greens
  • Beets
  • Broccoli raab
  • Cabbage (early August)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard (early August)
  • Cilantro
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions or scallions
  • Peas (snow)
  • Radish
  • Salad greens
  • Mache
  • Spinach (early August)
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips (for greens)

Early August transplant starts:

  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Dill
  • Fennel (bulb)

Transplant through August:

  • Artichoke
  • Asian greens
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Salad greens
  • Scallions
  • Spinach

September

Seed outdoors:

Bold print indicates crops that can be sown in late September and overwinter and ripen in early spring if protected with a cloche or row cover.

  • Arugula
  • Asian greens
  • Beets
  • Cabbage (for spring harvest)
  • Cilantro
  • Endive
  • Fava beans
  • Garlic (cloves)
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Onion sets
  • Peas (snow)
  • Radish
  • Salad greens
  • Shallots (bulbs)
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard

Transplant starts:

  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Salad greens
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach

October

Seed outdoors:

  • Fava beans
  • Garlic (cloves)
  • Onion sets
  • Peas (snow)
  • Shallots (bulbs)

Transplant starts:

  • Bok choi
  • Cabbage (overwintering)
  • Lettuce
  • Salad greens

November

Seed outdoors:

  • Fava beans
  • Garlic (cloves)
  • Onion sets
  • Shallots (bulbs)

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