Our growing season here in Allentown is usually 110 days long, which means we have the opportunity to grow a second crop of veggies for a late fall harvest. Cool weather veggies prefer milder temperatures to grow, and most of them are great for both early spring and late summer planting since they don’t do too well in the scorching heat of July and August. We’re in USDA plant hardiness zone 6B, so our winter temperatures in Allentown can get down to -5°F. Our last frost in spring is usually the first week of May, and our first frost in the fall can come as early as the first week of October. With 110 days to grow, this means now is your last chance to plant some tasty garden vegetables for a fantastic autumn harvest. Cool season vegetable crops should be direct-seeded 6-8 weeks before the first frost of autumn. Since Allentown's first frost can be as early as the first week of October, that means you should seed between late July and early August. When you’re deciding on vegetables to grow this late in the year, have a good look at the information provided on your seed packets. The packet will usually have all the information you need to start growing the vegetables, including the seed depth and spacing, water and sun needs, frost hardiness, and how many days until harvest. It’s important to check the frost hardiness and days to harvest. For fall planting, you’ll want to select seeds that can tolerate a bit of frost and will be ready for harvest in approximately 60 days.
COOL WEATHER VEGETABLE STARTER PLANTS WE CARRY
Kale, Lettuce, and Spinach are all salad greens that can be direct-seeded anywhere from mid-July to the very end of August, but to save some time and harvest sooner, you can purchase one of our starter plants. These plants can tolerate a bit of frost, however, you’ll want to cover them on nights that frost is predicted. You can get frost protection cloth specifically for this purpose, or you can use what you have around, like buckets or old bedsheets. Just make sure whatever you use to cover isn’t crushing the plants. You can also grow them in pots and bring them inside overnight if it’s going to freeze. We have so many fantastic varieties of lettuce available now, including Buttercrunch, Great Lakes, Romaine, Blackseeded Simpson, and Red Sail, so you can pick up a few different ones for some top notch mixed green salads all autumn long. Broccoli and Cauliflower can be direct-seeded at the beginning of August, but you can skip the waiting around and just opt for one of our starter plants. They can take a bit of frost but should be covered on chilly nights. Keep in mind, broccoli is a bit prone to unwanted pests— to prevent bugs from munching on it, it’s a good idea to cover it with netting or mesh that’s too small for moths to get through.
Cabbage can handle some frost but should be covered on particularly cold nights. Similar to broccoli, cabbage is prone to some pests and should be covered with netting to simplify protection. Consider planting cabbage and broccoli next to each other. Your cabbage may be the latest harvest of the year, maturing late in the fall or even early in the winter. Brussels Sprouts have surged in popularity recently, becoming a hyper-trendy vegetable that can be cooked in so many creative and delicious ways. Instead of splurging on fancy fried brussels sprouts drizzled in truffle oil at a restaurant, make your own at home by growing some from one of our starter plants. They usually require a pretty long growing season, so a starter plant will be much easier to manage than growing from seeds. The sprouts grow up along tall stalks, and they’re ready to harvest once they reach about 1 inch thick.
EASY COOL WEATHER VEGETABLES TO SEED
Beets are easy to grow and can be direct-seeded for an autumn harvest at the beginning of August. They should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first frost in autumn, and require 45-65 days to reach harvest. Beets can be enjoyed a variety of ways: eat them raw, cooked, pickled, or make beet chips! You can also eat beet leaves in salads and sandwiches. If you decide to grow some cabbage along with your beets, you can try making borscht— one of the tastiest, healthiest comfort foods for when the weather starts to get chilly.
Carrots should be direct-seeded in late-July or early August. You might struggle to find carrots that are ready to harvest within 60 days, but don’t worry— carrots can handle the cold, and some actually taste sweeter if they’re still in the ground after the first frost. Harvest estimates for carrots also assume you want to wait until carrots are 5-6 inches long and quite thick before harvesting, but you can still eat carrots when they’re smaller. Generally, it's a good idea to leave carrots in the ground into October. Carrots will keep fresh for most of the winter if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Don’t wash them before storing, as this will cause them to spoil faster.
Radishes are the perfect fast and easy fall vegetable to grow. They usually take about 30 days to reach maturity, and they can take a bit of frost. Radishes can also be grown in pots. If you seed radishes in pots in early August, you could probably even pull off a second seeding at the beginning of September for a second crop.
Garlic should be planted in the fall, however, you won’t be able to harvest it this year. Garlic should be planted in mid-autumn in a sunny location. Cloves should be placed root side down, 4-6 inches apart, and covered with 1-2 inches of soil. Garlic will benefit from a few inches of mulch cover through the winter, but it should be removed the following spring. It should be harvested when the leaves have turned brown in midsummer.
If you begin seeding soon, you’ll be able to easily enjoy fresh veggies from your garden well into the fall. Take full advantage of our full growing season in Allentown and get started on round 2 of planting today.