JoAnne Skelly: Plant now for fall vegetables

Although numerous pests have been plaguing my garden this year, my gardening spirit can’t be stifled. I find myself thinking about planting a fall veggie garden. Many plants will not only tolerate our late summer and fall temperature fluctuations, but will actually thrive.

To be successful with a late summer planting for a fall harvest, plant seeds with that reach maturity quickly or buy vegetable starts at local nurseries, if they have them. Also, be prepared to cover crops with row covers, mulch, straw, paper bags, containers, anything to protect the plants when freezes occur. If you have a hoop house or low tunnels, you may be able to grow all winter, depending on where you live.

The fastest crop is probably radish, which can mature in as little as 21 days. Bunching onions, regular onions and garlic do best if planted in the fall and need very little care through the winter for a spring harvest. Another way to approach planning a fall harvest is to eat crops at a younger stage such as early lettuces, baby radish leaves and tiny radishes, young spinach, etc.

I checked Johnny’s Seeds online to see what varieties they had that matured quickly. Other seed companies and our local nurseries will have good seed selections too.

Kale is cool season dependable and one of my favorites. Red Russian can be picked for baby greens at 25 days with 50 days to maturity. Starbor and Ripbor can be harvested at 55 days. Toscana, a cold-tolerant Italian variety, is edible at 30 days for baby greens and 65 for mature leaves.

Spinach is another good cool season choice. Carmel, Raccoon or Red Kitten can be eaten in 23-25 days for baby leaves and 34-36 days for mature leaves. Collards, another favorite, are also an option.

Beets are good for cool season growing because they get sweeter in the cold. They come in many beautiful colors and the greens are edible too. Red Ace is easy to grow with a crop in 50 days. Merlin takes only 48 days. If you plant Early Wonder Tall Top, you can eat the leaves in 35 days and roots in 55.

Explore carrots, turnips, parsnips or rutabagas. Whatever veggies you might plant, be sure to watch the weather and be ready to cover your plants if a freeze is forecast. I actually prefer growing vegetables during the cooler seasons.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at


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