By mid July many gardeners are really reaping the rewards of their gardens, harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, lettuce and other garden fresh treats. So, let’s say you had a busy spring – maybe the kids school planned a gazillion moving up ceremonies and end of year celebrations, or the weather was just perfect for a few trips to the beach or park and you never quite got around tp planting anything. Now, you’re watching your neighbors as they cart in baskets full of colorful produce and maybe you’re wishing you had more options than just the supermarket or weekly farmer’s market. Well, from one gardening procrastinator to another – it’s not too late! Although spring is the best time to plant many garden favorites, there are still plenty of late summer options that can have you harvesting delicious food well into the fall.
Personally, we were pretty lucky. Despite not getting around to very much spring planting myself, a few local farms were selling established plants this year and I was able to use those to play catch up on our summer garden. Now I feel very determined to get my late summer planting together so that we can continue a great harvest into the fall. It just so happens that many of my favorite vegetables enjoy the cooler weather!
So, what do you grow for the best fall harvest? Sometimes when planting in July or August it’s better to choose fast growing varieties of certain vegetables, in order to ensure that they will be ready for harvest before the cold weather comes in. Here’s some of my favorite options for a well rounded and plentiful fall harvest:
Radish – Radish grow fairly quickly, with most varieties ready for harvest in as little as 30 days. Plants radish in late July or early August for a tasty fall treat. My favorite way to eat them is raw, in a salad, but they can be very tasty when roasted. When I have a bumper crop I usually turn to pickling them and serving them along side cheese boards around the holidays!
Spinach – A great cool weather crop, plant spinach in August and enjoy the bounty come fall. One of my favorite vegetables, I happily eat spinach raw, sauteed and in smoothies, like my favorite Orange & Spinach Green Smoothie, almost every day.
Sugar Snap Peas – Another favorite in our house – this is an especially fun crop to grow with kids. My boys love picking them and eating them straight from the bush. Sugar snap peas have an edible pod that is tasty raw or sauteed. Check out this recipe for Snap Peas with Meyer Lemon and Mint for an exciting new way to prepare them!
Beans – Another favorite in our house! Pole beans can be planted as late as the first week of August for a decent fall crop. My middle son grew quite a few beautiful bean plants last year, so this will these will definitely be a part of our own late summer garden again!
Kale – Another cool weather loving crop, Kale will yield a wonderful fall harvest if planted mid-July to mid-August.
Cabbage – If you’re a fan of roasted cabbage or kimichi, now is the time to plant some cabbage. Although some find the flavor of cabbage too strong (and I will admit to not being a fan of boiled cabbage) this vegetable makes a delicious transformation when you drizzle slices in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tender.
Lettuce – Plant your favorite varieties of lettuce now and enjoy delicious fall salads, chock full of walnuts, cranberries and cheese come September.
Eggplant – Since we try to eat only locally available produce, eggplant reminds me of fall just as much as pumpkins and apple cider. There are so many delicious varieties and ways to prepare eggplant, this is definitely a versatile veggie to grow. Use up fall veggies in this Eggplant and Spinach Parmesan or try your hand at growing Japanese Eggplant. I discovered them through our local CSA last year. These tiny, tender, light purple eggplants are delicious halved and sauteed, and if you can get your hands on some, I highly recommend trying them!
Kohlrabi – For the more adventurous, kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, which means it also enjoys cooler temperatures. Kohlrabi is extremely fast growing and versatile too. You can eat in it salads raw, use it in soups or stir fry, or just simply roast it to enhance the delicious flavor! Kohlrabi planted in mid July and August will offer a generous crop come September and October.
Herbs – Planting herbs like basil, dill, oregano and parsley now will guarantee that you will have plenty on hand to add some flavor to your fall dishes, or to try your hand at some Herb Compound Butters, which are a staple at our Thanksgiving table. Cilantro is another option, although this herb is a little picky about cooler weather. If the plant bolts and goes to seed, just wait until the seeds have turned brown, then harvest and dry them for some delicious coriander.
Carrots – Another fall favorite, many people say that the cooler weather improves the taste of carrots. We are planting these ourselves now – my boys love to harvest carrots (any excuse to dig the dirt, right?) and I love to roast them with a little butter, honey, salt, pepper and cumin! It’s a favorite fall side in our home!
Not sure where to find seeds this time of year? If you have access to a local farm give them a call – many sell seeds or small plants to at home gardeners. If that’s not an option for you head over to Home Depot or a local garden supply store, which should have a large variety of seeds to choose from!
Have other favorites? Let me know what you love to plant in the late summer, or share your best fall harvesting tips! Follow me along on Instagram to see how my garden fares as the weather turns from sticky hot to crisp and cool!