Now is the perfect time to get those late-season seed crops into the ground!
For many locations, you may think that spring and early summer are the only times you can plant seeds in your garden. Thankfully, there’s a way to extend your growing season so you can enjoy fresh vegetables for much longer.
In fact, there are several late-season seed crops that you can plant now in late summer and still be able to enjoy before the first frost arrives. The reason for this is that these seeds have much shorter days to maturity than other crops (i.e., they grow quickly)! In addition, they are also cold hardy.
So even though you might be knee-deep in harvesting those warm-weather crops like tomatoes, pepper, cucumbers, and squash, there’s still plenty of time to get cool weather crops in the ground for a wonderful fall harvest.
Check out the following seven late-season seed crops you should consider planting now. It doesn’t matter whether you are growing directly in the ground, in raised beds, or even in containers – you can extend your growing season with these crops.
7 Late Season Seed Crops To Grow Now
All of the following crops are perfect for sowing in late summer/early fall and again in early spring. They require very little care and maintenance yet will provide you with a bountiful harvest.
Be sure to plant all of these crops in full sun. Also, since your garden soil has already worked hard at producing vegetables during the warm summer months, you’ll likely need to amend the soil.
Work in several inches of rich compost for best results. Not only will the compost help to add in vital nutrients that were likely depleted during the summer growing season, but it will also help to improve the soil’s overall structure and organic matter content.
Many of these late-season crops can even be grown in cold frames. That will allow you to extend the growing season past your first frost and go well into winter.
Radishes – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Radishes are one of the quickest vegetables to grow in the garden. In fact, some varieties can go from seed to harvest in as quick as 30 days! From mild and sweet to hot and spicy flavors, there’s a radish variety for your tastebuds.
Another bonus of radishes is that they take up minimal space. They are great for container growing or scattered amongst other vegetables in raised beds and traditional gardens. In addition, since they are so quick to grow, you can utilize succession planting for an even longer extended harvest.
Planting and Harvesting
Since they are root vegetables, you need to have loose soil in order for radishes to grow and expand. Amend the soil with compost and even sand for really heavy soils like clay. Plant the radish seeds about half an inch deep and cover them with soil. Keep seeds about an inch apart and in rows about 4 to 6 inches apart.
Radishes can germinate in as little as 3 to 4 days. Once they are a few inches tall, thin seeds so you have one plant every 2 to 3 inches. Harvest when the stems at the ground level are about an inch wide. You can also gently remove the soil above the radish to check for the proper size prior to harvesting.
Kale – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Kale is one versatile and delicious superfood! Not only is it full of antioxidants and vitamins, but it looks stunning as it grows with its textured leaves and purple and green variations. You can even consider growing ornamental kale for a more decorative approach.
There are also many different flavor profiles of kale. From warm and peppery to salad-like, there’s a variety for every taste and preference.
Kale takes a bit longer to grow from seed to consumption, but it can still be harvested in 45 to 60 days. Another bonus is that, unlike some vegetables, kale can withstand a bit of frost and cold temperatures. In fact, it can handle temperatures as low as 10º Fahrenheit before spoiling.
Planting and Harvesting
Each kale plant can grow to be around one to two feet tall as well as wide. Be sure to space them accordingly when deciding where to plant seeds.
Place seeds in amended soil about half an inch deep and a few inches apart. Cover with soil and water well. Rows should be spaced around 18 to 30 inches apart, but this will vary depending on the exact kale variety you are growing.
Keep soil moist until germination, which should take around 5 to 8 days. After plants are a few inches in height, thin plants as needed.
You can harvest young, tender leaves before the plant has reached full size. For mature harvesting, wait until the leaves are around the size of your hand. Be sure to take the outside leaves first, allowing the inner leaves to grow.
Sugar Snap Peas – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Unlike shelling peas, sugar snap peas can be completely consumed – pod and all. They are excellent for eating raw or for sauteing in dishes like stir-fries. As their name entails, they are crisp, sweet, and add a delicious flavor to many dishes.
In addition to being quick to grow from seed, peas help to actually improve your garden soil. Since they are a member of the legume family, their roots help to add nitrogen back to the soil where needed. They are perfect for growing in locations where heavy feeders grew during the summer months.
Most sugar snap pea varieties feature small tendrils that love to climb. Be sure to add some sort of trellis feature near the planting location that can support the peas and help them to grow tall and stay healthy.
Planting and Harvesting
Plant seeds around 8 to 10 weeks before your first expected frost. Place seeds around an inch deep, spacing them an inch apart. Cover with soil and water well. The seeds should germinate in around a week to 10 days. Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin to one plant every 2 to 3 inches.
The pods should be ready for harvesting around 6 to 8 weeks after sowing seeds. The more often that you harvest your sugar snap peas, the more the plants will produce.
Spinach – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Many gardeners have tried to grow spinach in the spring only to have it bolt from the summer heat. However, by growing it in the cooler months of fall, you can avoid this unwanted bolting.
Not only is spinach a great staple in many kitchen dishes, but it is a cinch to grow in gardens and raised beds. Spinach thrives in temperatures that range between 35 to 70º Fahrenheit (2 to 21º Celsius). Choose a variety that was created for handling cooler temperatures for the best results.
While there are three different varieties of spinach to choose from, more home gardeners grow semi-savory spinach. This type features smoother leaves that are easier to clean than the other two types.
Planting and Harvesting
In general, about two months before your first frost, aim to get spinach seeds in the ground. Amend the soil and then lightly rake to loosen the top layer. Since the seeds are so small, it’s easier to simply broadcast seeds over the top of the soil. You can alternatively choose to make a long trench that is about half an inch deep.
Keep the surface moist until seedlings appear. Seedlings will germinate in around 5 to 10 days. Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin them so you have one plant every 4 to 6 inches or so.
It takes only 4 to six weeks for this salad green to be ready for harvesting. However, you can harvest at any point when the leaves have reached your desired size. As with most lettuce greens, harvest from the outside leaves first for continual harvesting.
Cilantro – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Cilantro is one of those herbs that you either love or hate. If you are on the side of “love it,” you can easily grow it in the fall since it grows so quickly from seed.
All parts of a cilantro plant are edible. In fact, “cilantro” refers to the leaves of the plant while “coriander” refers to the seeds. While the leaves are harvested in the fall after planting, the seeds are typically harvested n the following spring.
As long as the weather has cooled off, cilantro seeds can be planted in the fall. It will not produce well in the heat of summer so early spring or fall are the two best options for planting.
Planting and Harvesting
For a fall harvest, space seeds about 1 to 2 inches apart and about half an inch deep. Cover with soil and keep moist until germination occurs.
Seedlings should emerge in a week to two weeks. Once seedlings are a few inches tall, thin to every 4 to 6 inches. You can sow seeds every two weeks for a continual harvest.
Harvest leaves as soon as they are to your desired size. You can pick a few leaves at a time or pull the entire plant up for a full harvest. If you only clip a few leaves, you should be able to continuously harvest the same plant for several weeks.
Lettuce – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
Salad greens are one of the easiest crops to grow from seeds. However, they can quickly go bitter once the warmer weather hits. So by planting in the late summer or early fall, you can enjoy fresh greens for several months.
Lettuce is also a great option for cold frames since it can withstand much cooler temps than most vegetables as long as there is some protection from frost. For a continual harvest, sow a few rows of seeds every couple of weeks.
With varieties that range from full heads of lettuce to looseleaf lettuces and many different flavor profiles, there are options for everyone. In addition, many lettuce varieties take a very minimal amount of space and grow quickly.
Planting and Harvesting
Only plant salad green seeds about an eighth of an inch deep. Lettuce seeds actually need sunlight in order to germinate so you don’t want to bury them deeply. Water carefully with a mister to help avoid disturbing the tiny seeds and keep the top layer of soil moist.
Germination will take about a week. Once plants are a few inches tall, they will need to be thinned to allow the mature plants to grow to size. The spacing you use will vary greatly depending on the lettuce variety you are growing.
For example, iceberg lettuce needs around 16 inches between plants to come to full heads while looseleaf lettuces only need an inch or two.
Harvesting will also depend on the type of lettuce you are growing. Looseleaf lettuces can be harvested after they are a few inches tall. They will continually produce additional leaves as time goes along. Head lettuces, however, will take a bit longer before harvesting.
Beets – 7 Late Season Seed Crops
It’s hard to beat the weather hardiness and disease resistance of beets. Add to the fact that they are super quick and easy to grow and you have a perfect late-season crop to add to your garden!
In less than two months from sowing, you will be enjoying the many health benefits of consuming beets.
Planting & Harvesting
About 4 to 6 weeks before your first expected frost, being planting beets. Beet seeds grow easily when planted directly in the soil. Place seeds about half an inch deep and cover with soil.
Each “seed” is actually a group of two to four smaller seeds enclosed in a hard shell. This seed will need constant moisture in order to soften and allow the seeds to germinate. Keep soil moistened but not overly damp. You can also soak seeds up to 24 hours prior to planting to help speed up the germination process if you wish.
Germination should take around a week to 10 days. Thin seedlings after the greens have grown about 4 to 5 inches tall so that plants are around 3 to 4 inches apart. If seedlings are growing too close together, simply trim off the greens instead of pulling the plants up. This will avoid disturbing the other plant’s roots.
Beets will be ready to harvest around 55 to 65 days after planting. Just like with radishes, you can gently move the soil to check the size of the roots. When they are around the size of a golf ball, they are ready for harvesting.
To Conclude . . .
By planting any of these late-season seed crops, you will be able to make the most out of your garden spaces. They allow you to easily extend your growing season well into late fall and beyond.
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