Sow in August for a Fall Harvest

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There are many vegetables you can sow in August. Photo: http://www.gardenersworld.com

In the home vegetable garden, the month of August is usually a month for harvesting. Tomatoes, beans, peppers, carrots, beets: the least you can say is that there is no shortage of fresh vegetables for the table!

On the other hand, by reaping the fruits of your labors, you end up leaving empty spaces in the vegetable garden, spaces that could be put to better use by sowing fast-growing vegetables, a technique called succession planting.

There are actually quite a few vegetables that can be sown in August (and sometimes even in September) which you can, depending on the region, expect to see produce a decent harvest before frost hits. And the other advantage of succession planting is that by filling empty spaces in the vegetable garden with growing plants, you also keep weeds down, as they like nothing better than moving into spaces you left bare.

Can You Start From Scratch in August?
If you don’t even have a vegetable garden, but suddenly decide that you want one, yes, you can start from scratch in August! As they say, it’s never too late to do the right thing! Here’s an article that explains how to prepare a new vegetable garden in just half an hour or so: A Fast and Easy Vegetable Garden. Moreover, your “new vegetable garden” can be as simple as placing a big pot on the balcony or the deck, filling it with soil and sowing a few seeds!

Which Vegetables to Choose?

Lettuce is one of the fastest-growing vegetables and is ideal for succession sowing. Photo: http://www.jardiner-malin.fr

Fall, with its cool nights and sunny days, is particularly suitable for growing leaf and root vegetables. If the soil is hot, just sow the seeds a bit deeper than in the spring and water well: they’ll soon sprout.

Some vegetables, on the other hand, have a hard time germinating if early August starts off with a heat wave, especially lettuce and spinach. But you can cheat a little. Sow them in peat pots, moisten well, then put the pots in the refrigerator for three to five days. Then, the cold having stimulated their germination, move them to a semi-shady spot outdoors where they’ll start to grow. They’ll be ready for transplantation into the full sun of the vegetable garden in a week or two.

Here are the vegetables most suitable for August sowing:

  1. Beet (50-60 days)
  2. Broccoli (70-80 days)
  3. Brussels sprouts (90-100 days)
  4. Cabbage (60-80 days)
  5. Carrot (50-75 days)
  6. Cauliflower (60-80 days)
  7. Collard greens (40-65 days)
  8. Coriander (cilantro) (40-50 days)
  9. Dandelion (40-70 days)
  10. Endive (85-100 days)
  11. Green onion (60-70 days)
  12. Kale (50-60 days)
  13. Kohlrabi (50-60 days)
  14. Lettuce (25-60 days)
  15. Mesclun (30-60 days)
  16. Miner’s lettuce (40-55 days)
  17. Mizuna (20-40 days)
  18. Mustard greens (30-50 days)
  19. Pak choi (30-50 days)
  20. Pea (55-85 days)
  21. Radicchio (60-65 days)
  22. Radish (25-40 days)
  23. Rocket (arugula) (25-50 days)
  24. Spinach (45-60 days)
  25. Swiss chard (55-65 days)
  26. Turnip (35-60 days)

Of course, the best time to plant garlic (from cloves) is even later, in September … but that’s, for a harvest at the end of next summer, not for this year’s crop.

Note that many of these vegetables won’t arrive at their full maturity from an August sowing (Brussels sprouts, full-size beets, long carrots, etc.) in all climates, vegetables harvested young are just as delicious as mature ones. Indeed, sometimes they even taste better!

Frost Is (Not Yet) An Issue

Floating row cover can offer frost protection for those early frosts. Photo: wimastergardener.org

Don’t worry too much about frost for the vegetables mentioned above: the first frost is usually quite light and won’t bother them at all. And to protect them from the deeper frosts that follow, you can cover them with floating row cover and gain several degrees of frost protection, allowing your crops even more time to mature.


So, go for it! Sow new vegetables as you harvest the mature ones: you still have time!

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One thought on “Sow in August for a Fall Harvest

  1. Our long growing season is quite different, since warm season vegetables go so late, and are then replaced by cool season vegetables. Most of what is on your list are cool season vegetables for us, that can get planted bout now and and last through winter, or at least get planted in phases through winter. There are a few spring and autumn vegetables that I do not even grow, such as peas. They can do well here, but can also be risky if the weather stays warm late, or gets cool early.

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