The Best Fall & Winter Crops To Plant in Your Garden Now

With it being the heat of the summer, a lot of us aren’t really thinking about gardening. In fact, a lot of us don’t want to even think about going outside, depending upon where we live. But, the fall and winter will be here before we know it. So, plowing through the sticky heat to take advantage of the season might be in our best interest. If we plan properly, working in our gardens now can really help boost our fall and winter crops. Which, in turn, can help us save a lot of money on food and help us eat healthier throughout the cold season. So, what’s not to love about an abundant fall and winter harvest?

How to Prepare

The first thing to figure out, if you don’t already know it, is which hardiness zone you live in. This is important because each zone has different first frost dates. And most fall and winter crops are organized by first frost dates.

This is because each crop needs a certain amount of light, water and growing time to reach maturity. And you want the crops to reach maturity before your first frost hits.

Once you have your approximate first frost date, then you should determine where you want to plant your fall and winter crops.

Each crop will have slightly different requirements for the following:

  • Sunlight
  • Water
  • Spacing
  • Soil pH
  • Nitrogen content
  • Phosphorus content
  • Potassium content

Your soil will have varying degrees of vitamins, minerals and nutrients so it might be very beneficial to have it soil tested. You can send your soil off to be tested for free, or you can purchase a soil testing kit to use at home instead.

Since I live in North Carolina, we can send our soil off to the Department of Agriculture for a very in depth soil test. I have done this before and was very pleased with the results. However, it does definitely take much longer to get the results back than a home test would.

But, this is extremely important information to have ahead of time. Because you don’t want to waste your time and money working the soil and planting a crop that isn’t in its ideal environment.

Fall and Winter Crops to Plant

Once you have determined what your soil makeup is and how much sunlight you get, choosing the crops is the next step. Obviously, you want to start with crops that you will really benefit the most from. These would be crops that you regularly enjoy and get great nutrient value out of. Or they can include crops that might be used more for seasoning and flavor enriching than as a main dish.

After you consider the more common crops, then it might be beneficial to consider crops you don’t eat as often. If you had them at your fingertips, would you be more prone to enjoying them more regularly? If the answer is yes, then add those to your list of potential crops.

Once you have your long list of potential candidates, next it is time to narrow them down by how long they take to reach maturity.

Most seeds will tell you how long they take, on average, to reach maturity. So you want to make sure you plant the crops that take the longest to mature first.

10 – 12 Weeks to Maturity

Depending upon which hardiness zone you live in, this could be in July or August.

Some of the most common fall and winter crops in this category are:

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butternut Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Peas
  • Scallions
  • Zucchini Squash

8 – 10 Weeks to Maturity

Depending upon which hardiness zone you live in, this could be in August or September.

Some of the most common fall and winter crops in this category are:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Okra
  • Potatoes

6 – 8 Weeks to Maturity

Depending upon which hardiness zone you live in, this could be in September or October.

Some of the most common fall and winter crops in this category are:

  • Basil
  • Bush Beans
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips
These are some of the best fall and winter crop ideas to plant now. Click To Tweet

Fall and Winter Crops Summary

Overall, even though it is pretty hot outside right now, there is still plenty of time to get our fall and winter crops going. Proper planning is the best way to start any new project. And creating a successful fall and winter garden is no different.

It’s important to make sure you are choosing crops that you will actually use. That way you aren’t wasting your time and money creating awesome crops that you won’t thoroughly enjoy. Instead, creating a garden will only help you save money on your food costs for the fall and winter.

Once you have chosen your crops, it would be extremely beneficial to get your soil tested. This means anywhere that you are considering planting crops. This will help to determine which spots are ideal for specific crops.

And last, but not least, you will need to make sure you give yourself enough time to plant crops that need longer maturity time before the first frost. Plant all of those first and then move on to the shorter maturity time crops. And before you know it, it will be time to begin harvesting your fall and winter crops and enjoying your delicious bounty!

Have you begun planting your fall and winter crops yet? If so, which ones have you planted and when?