Summer days are waning, but for gardeners in USDA zone 7, that doesn’t have to mean the last of the fresh garden produce. Okay, you may have seen the last of the garden tomatoes, but there are still plenty of veggies suited for zone 7 fall planting. Planting fall gardens extends the gardening season so you can continue to use your own fresh produce. The following fall garden guide for zone 7 discusses fall planting times and crop options in zone 7.
About Planting Fall Gardens
As mentioned, planting a fall garden extends the harvesting season beyond summer produce. Fall harvest can even be extended further by providing frost protection by planting in cold frames or hotbeds.
Many vegetables adapt well to fall planting. Among these, of course, are the cool season veggies such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and carrots. In zone 7, spring temperatures often heat up rapidly, causing crops like lettuce and spinach to bolt and become bitter. Fall is a great time to plant these tender greens.
A little planning will go a long way prior to zone 7 fall planting. Below is a fall gardening guide for zone 7 but it is intended as a guideline only. Planting times may be off by as much as 7-10 days depending upon your exact location within this zone. To get a better idea of when to plant, determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall and then count backwards from that date, using the number of days to maturity for the crop.
Fall Planting Times in Zone 7
Brussels sprouts take between 90-100 days to mature, so they can be planted between July 1 and July 15. Carrots that take between 85-95 days to mature and can also be planted at this time.
Rutabagas that take between 70-80 days to mature can be planted anytime from July 1 to August 1.
Beets take between 55-60 days to mature and can be planted from July 15-August 15. Broccoli varieties that mature within 70-80 days can also be planted from July 15 to August 15. Varieties of collard greens that mature within 60-100 days can be planted at this time too.
Most cabbage varieties can be planted from August 1 to August 15, as can cucumbers– both pickling and slicing. Kohlrabi, turnips, most lettuces, mustard, and spinach can all be planted around this time too.
Kale and radishes can be sown from August 15 to September 1.
Onions that mature between 60-80 days can be planted from September 1 to September 15 and those that reach maturity within 130-150 days can be planted from up to the end of this month.
In some parts of zone 7, October is essentially frost free, so some crops can be started even later for a really late fall harvest. Crops such as beets, Swiss chard, kale and kohlrabi can all be sown at the beginning of September. Collards and cabbages can be transplanted at this time.
Chinese cabbage, parsley, peas and turnips can all be sown in the second week of September. Leaf lettuce can be planted until October 1 and mustard greens and radishes will still have time to grow if in the ground by October 15.
If you plan on trying to capture these later dates, be prepared to cover the beds with burlap or floating row covers. You can also protect individual plants using milk jugs, paper caps or water walls. Also, if a hard freeze is imminent, mulch heavily around root crops such as carrots and radishes.
Onions for Fall
Fall is usually a time of harvesting the last of the vegetable crops and cleaning up. But in warm areas, it's just the beginning for some crops. Now is the time to be planting garlic, overwintering greens such as spinach, arugula, and kale, and the queen of fall: onions.
Short Day or Long Day
Onions are generally grouped in two categories: short day and long day. Long-day onions, such as 'Walla Walla' and 'Yellow Spanish', form their bulbs in response to long day lengths. They are traditionally planted in spring in the North to mature in summer.
Short-day onions, such as '1015Y Granex' and 'White Bermuda', form their bulbs in response to short days. They are traditionally planted in fall in the South to grow through the winter and bulb up in late spring while the days are still short. There is a new third class called intermediate-day onions. Intermediate varieties, such a 'Candy' and 'Super Star', aren't day-length sensitive and can be planted in spring in the North and in spring and fall in the South.
Planting Onions in Fall
If you live in USDA zones 7 or warmer, now is the time to plant short-day or intermediate-day onions. Before planting, prepare the ground ahead of time. Since onions like a well-drained, crumbly, fertile soil, raised beds work well. Work a 2-inch layer of compost into the bed before planting. At planting, apply a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, at 1/2 cup per 20-foot row. Although onions are heavy feeders, save most of your fertilizing until spring when the bulbs begin to form.
You can start onions from seed or transplants. Start seeds in flats sown indoors under lights. After growing them for 6 to 8 weeks indoors, transplant the young seedlings outdoors into their beds spaced 4 inches apart with 12 inches between rows.
Keep the bed moist and weed-free onions need a constant supply of water and minimum competition from weeds. Mulch transplants with a 1- to 2-inch-thick layer of finely chopped hay or leaves to conserve moisture and help keep weeds down. In colder areas where you're pushing the limit of overwintering, the plants may need protection. Place a floating row cover over transplants in November to help keep winter minimum temperatures above 0 ° F.
Once new growth starts in spring, side-dress twice, one month apart, with 1/4 cup of alfalfa meal per 10-foot row. Avoid sulfur-based chemical fertilizers, such as ammonium sulfate, and don't apply fertilizer within 30 days of harvest, or you may increase the onion's pungency.
For more information on onion planting and care go to the Virtual Vegetable Guides at www.willhiteseed.com/store/asp/guides.asp
Come spring (April to June), wait until most of the tops have naturally fallen over to harvest your onions. Let them cure a few days in the sun, then store them in a cool basement. Many of the short- and intermediate-day varieties generally don't store well, so eat them as soon as you can.
Q. When should I dig my sweet potatoes? The plants are still growing, but I can see parts of the potatoes bulging up from the ground.
A. In general sweet potatoes should be harvested as soon as the leaves start to yellow, but before frost. The longer sweet potatoes are allowed to remain in the ground, the larger the tubers and the higher the vitamin content. However, if frost blackens the vines, the tubers can quickly rot.
Dig tubers on a sunny day when the soil is dry. Tubers can grow up to a foot away from the plant, so dig carefully so you won't damage the thin skins. Dry tubers in the sun for several hours, then move them to a well-ventilated spot and keep them at 85° to 90° F degrees for 10 to 15 days to cure them. Properly cured and stored sweet potatoes will keep for several months.Charlie Nardozzi is an award winning, nationally recognized garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert gardening information to home gardeners through radio, television, talks, tours, on-line, and the printed page. Charlie delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. He's the author of 6 books, has three radio shows in New England and a TV show. He leads Garden Tours around the world and consults with organizations and companies about gardening programs. See more about him at Gardening With Charlie.
What is a planting calendar?
A planting calendar is a simple guide that tells when the optimal time to plant any type of vegetable, flower or plant is.
How does it work?
Planting calendars are designed to calculate the best time to start seeds and plant a garden. Timing for all planting is based on first and last frost dates. For example, if planting in hardiness zone 5, the last frost date is generally between April 1st – April 15th, and the first frost date typically falls between October 16th – October 31st. These dates will in part dictate when the best time to plant is.
From specific plants and vegetables that thrive in one particular zone, to when to plant, to how much water they need, to when to harvest, the Gilmour Planting Calendar provides everything you need to know to grow a bountiful garden.
Planting in September
Most of the crops on this list are the same for both zones 7 & 8. However, if you live in zone 7 you will want to get these crops planted in early September! If you live in zone 8 you can get away with planting these crops later in the month.
Beets are so good for you! They are packed with nutrients and I personally think they are delicious. If you want to learn more about growing beets you can check out this article: Complete Guide to Growing Beets
We love eating broccoli grown from our garden! We actually freeze any extra harvest , so that we can have garden grown broccoli year-round!
Having cabbage from your own garden is one of the great things about planting in September! Remember that you need to plant transplants NOT seeds for any crops on this list that are in the cabbage family!
Kale is so hardy, it will grow unprotected in your garden until early winter. Even then, in all but the coldest areas, the only winter protection kale will need is a piece of heavy fabric row cover. Kale tastes great in the winter and there are several different types of kale you can plant. You can learn more about the different types of kale you can grow in your garden in this article .
September is a great time to get lettuce started in your garden! As the weather starts to get cooler it makes great conditions for growing lettuce!
Peas (Zone 8)
If you live in zone 8 you can plant peas this month for a fall harvest! Planting peas in the fall requires a little bit more work, but it is definitely worth the effort. If you want to learn more about planting peas this month you can check out my article here: Planting Peas in the Fall
Spinach is another hardy crop that you can get started this month! We actually grow spinach in our garden all winter long!
I love growing carrots in the winter and fall. The cooler temperatures make the carrots much sweeter! They’re like eating candy! If you want to learn more about growing carrots in the winter you can read this article: Growing Carrots in the Fall & Winter
I love slicing up some radishes to add to my fall salads. Give them a try in your garden this month!
Other Crops you can plant this month
- Swiss Chard
Planting in September is a great way to extend your harvest into the fall and early winter. What will you be planting in your garden this month? Is there anything that I missed?
Hi I'm Rick. And I am a gardening fanatic! I love growing organic fruits and vegetables in my backyard garden. And I love teaching others how to grow their own organic food!