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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Starting Vegetable Seeds Very Late in the Season for a Fall Harvest

For the most part, I should be focused on what I can harvest from my garden in the next month. It's pretty late in the season to even contemplate starting vegetable plants from seed for a current-season harvest. We have already passed that mark in the season where daytime highs have begun to drop, leaving my area with about 2 months of non-freezing temperatures. But I'm giving it a try anyway. I had the seeds and seed starter trays already, plus a pot full of soil that I could rob to fill those starter trays, so I thought this was a gamble I was willing to risk.

On Tuesday afternoon, I put a bunch of spinach seeds into a small dish of water, allowing them to soak overnight. The purpose of an overnight soak was to give these seeds a good chance at germination. Wednesday afternoon I filled the seed starting trays with soil and planted all of those seeds. I've got the trays on a table on the deck and will wait for the seeds to sprout.

I have a large trough on the deck that is currently filled with our beets. I've been harvesting a few at a time over the past month and expect to have pulled all of them by mid-September. At that point, I'll transplant my new little spinach seedlings into the trough and pull the trough up against the house, next to the kitchen door. The plants should get enough warmth from  being up against the house and still be within eyesight so I can make sure I water the trough often enough. My hope is that we will have spinach for picking from early October through mid-November. The spinach will add to the Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, and kale that we have in the garden right now and will continue to harvest through early to mid-fall for our greens.

I may be just a little too late or I may have just squeaked in on time to plant a green like spinach in my area. Only time will tell. My attitude is taking a risk is better than sitting on my hands.

Other vegetable seeds that can be planted in August for a fall harvest in many regions include:

  • kale
  • Swiss chard
  • lettuce
  • pac-choi/bok choi
  • turnip greens (likely won't get large roots, but the greens are still good)
  • beet greens (same on roots as turnips, still great for greens)
  • arugula
  • radish -- perhaps for roots, but surely for greens
I plan on going through the rest of my seeds to see what else I can start in a tray to transplant once the green beans are done for the season. I'm think I have some turnip seeds that would make good greens this for this fall.

Many of the vegetables on the above list will hold (won't grow but stay edible) even after a light frost. Some, like kale, actually improve in flavor with frost and will hold and allow for harvesting in my garden until mid-December, then put on new growth when the soil begins to warm slightly in March.

It may be hard to imagine, but for many of our regions, it's still not too late to start a few seeds, perhaps in pots up against the house.


  1. You never know with these kinds of things. It may be a mild fall and you'll have a bumper crop.

  2. If you have a piece of glass or plexiglass on hand, you could also construct a simple cold frame to extend the season.
    - Tina

  3. live and learn said...
    You never know with these kinds of things. It may be a mild fall and you'll have a bumper crop.

    You're absolutely right! you've inspired me to try a few more types of seeds. Thank you!!!

  4. Tina said...
    If you have a piece of glass or plexiglass on hand, you could also construct a simple cold frame to extend the season.

    Thank you, Tina !
    I also have some plastic sheeting and PVC hoops that could work. Great suggestion.

  5. Thank you, Frugal in the USA!

    I started some more seeds yesterday. I didn't find turnip seeds like I thought I had, but found radish instead. Even if they don't form roots, they develop lots of greens to use.


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