Cooler weather does not necessarily signal the end of garden, it can signal the beginning of a new crop of fresh vegetables. Knowing what to plant in September can provide you with fresh food for several more weeks. And as a disclaimer, all gardeners live in different zones, so please consider where you live when planning what to grow in September. If fall gardening isn’t something you can usually do because of early winter setting in, then perhaps use this list in August.
Plan Out Your Fall Growing Season
If you’re ready for the fresh taste of greens and other cooler weather crops, then you probably love the onset of fall. Late September officially ushers in the fall season, but before it gets here, be sure to plan out what you’ll grow. This means checking your seed inventory, ordering new seeds if needed, and deciding what your family will actually eat. For more help planning out your garden, check out my Complete Garden Planner or my Fall Garden Square Foot Garden plans. They can both help you to get a jump start on fall garden planning! Get your garden cleared off and soil amended with compost, then plant some of these vegetables when September arrives.
What to Plant in September
Before dropping seeds or plants in the soil, always consider this…
To determine exactly what you can plant in September, count backwards from the last predicted frost date for your area. That will let you know how many days you will have for growing a fall vegetable crop. You can find this info in the Farmer’s Almanac, or check it out online at https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates#states-and-provinces.
Seed packs will have maturity dates for the vegetables printed on them. Select crops that have a short maturity date, like 45-60 days, for best results. Most of the plants you grow in an early spring garden can be planted in September too. So be sure to think back on what grew well in those cooler days of March and early April.
Loose leaf lettuce, arugula, bok choy, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, and mustard can be planted in September and harvested before the first frost in fall. Some of these greens varieties are hardier and can withstand a frost or two (and the flavor may actually improve).
Many of these greens can be eaten raw in salads or cooked and used as a side dish. Check out my recipe for Balsamic Bacon Collard Greens; they’re a family favorite!
Radishes, carrots, turnips, beets and green onions reach maturity quickly and grow best in cooler weather. All of these make great additions to a green salad, plus the carrots, turnips and beets can be preserved through freezing or canning.
Roots crop also help to improve garden soil by preventing compaction. Breaking up your soil now with root vegetables can give you a leg up for your spring garden as well.
Cruciferous Vegetable Family
If you have access to transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, September is an ideal time to plant them. The transplants will grow rapidly in the cooler fall weather, so you can enjoy fresh cruciferous vegetables for Thanksgiving dinner if you live in a climate with a mild winter. Be sure to watch out for cabbage moths, since the cooler temps usually do not deter them. Find some creative and organic ways for dealing with cabbage moths here.
Winter Cover Crop
September is a good month to plant a winter cover crop that will improve garden soil. Collards, turnips, legumes, rye grass, or clover planted in late summer and left to over-winter in the garden will prevent soil erosion and compaction during the winter.
In early spring, plow the green plants into the soil if you’re using a row garden, or cut and turn them into the soil if using raised beds. They will quickly decompose and increase soil fertility. This is an eco-friendly, organic form of plant fertilizer that is effective and inexpensive.
Fall Garden Tip
Any leftover spring garden seeds you have on hand can be planted in September and grown as a winter cover crop. Just sow the seeds and let the plants alone until early next spring. Garden soil amending doesn’t get any easier than this. So take the break in heat that September (hopefully) gives you and produce some delicious fall crops. Or if you know your fall will be busy with no time for gardening, plant those cover crops and just let them go!
I’d love to know what you enjoy planting in September. Comment below and let us know! Happy Gardening!