When to Plant for a Fall Harvest

When a crop is finished, rather than leaving the soil bare, why not plant something else? And for those who’ve been too busy to start a vegetable garden this spring, it’s not too late! Whether you already have a vegetable garden or haven’t had time to start one yet, there are a good variety of cold-weather vegetables perfect for an fall or winter garden.

Most of these are leafy vegetables. In fact, with protection, lettuce and other greens can be picked after the snow has fallen. Brassicas, such as broccoli, cabbage and turnips, are also very cold-hardy, and a little frost can even enhance their taste. Chard and beet, carrots and green onions are also cold-hardy vegetables. And we can’t forget early vegetables and varieties: some radishes can be ready to harvest in as little as 3 or 4 weeks!

Chou pour potager d'automne et récolte d'automne
Photo: Carolina Spork

First Frost Date

So, when should we start our seedlings for a fall harvest? In spring, we use the frost-free date to calculate seed planting; in fall, we use the average first frost date. I found an interactive map on the Climate Atlas of Canada website. It shows the average date between 1976 and 2005, but also the projected date of first frost for the future, between 2021 and 2050, which is probably more accurate.

For our American readers try the National Weather Service.

Since autumn vegetables can withstand a light frost, we can easily add 2 weeks or more to our calculation. Even more if we use a row . So, if you’re in Quebec City, the first frost date would be around October 14. Add 2 weeks, which takes us to October 28. If you’re planting lettuce with a maturation period of 60 days and calculating a germination period of 4 days, you subtract 64 days from this date, which takes you to August 25 at the latest.

In warmer areas, where there’s little or no frost, you can probably grow these vegetables all winter long.

When checking the time to maturity, be sure to check that it’s from sowing and not from transplanting, as this could skew your data by weeks or even months.

Broccoli for autumn vegetable garden and autumn harvest

List of Vegetables for an Autumn or Winter Harvest

Here’s a list of the approximate number of weeks from sowing to harvest for several cool-weather vegetables, including germination time.

Swiss chard: 8-10 weeks

Beet: 8-10 weeks

Broccoli: 12-14 weeks

Carrot: 10-12 weeks

Cabbage: 12-14 weeks

Brussels sprouts: 14-16 weeks

Cauliflower: 12-14 weeks

Kale: 12-14 weeks

Kohlrabi: 10-12 weeks

Chou-rave pour potager d'automne et récolte d'automne

Coriander: 4-6 weeks

Spinach: 6-8 weeks

Lettuce: 6-8 weeks

Lamb’s lettuce: 4-6 weeks

Mesclun: 4-6 weeks

Mizuna: 4-6 weeks

Mustard: 10-12 weeks

Turnip: 6-10 weeks

Green onion: 8-10 weeks

Pak-choï: 8-10 weeks

Peas: 10-12 weeks

Quand planter pois pour l'automne

Radicchio: 12-14 weeks

Radish: 4 to 6 weeks

Tip: some seeds prefer colder conditions for germination. You can keep them indoors in your fridge and transplant them outdoors once germinated.

Mathieu manages the and websites. He is also a garden designer for a landscaping company in Montreal, Canada. Although he loves contributing to the blog, he prefers fishing.

2 comments on “When to Plant for a Fall Harvest

  1. Mathieu Hodgson

    Here in Montreal, I usually stop sowing beans mi-July to get a late-summer/early fall harvest. Where are you situated?

  2. Rivka Willick

    I’m surprised to see beans off your list. I get a summer and fall crop. Love pile beans.

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