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It’s August, which means it’s time to start thinking about cool weather vegetables!
(Y’all were thinking about pumpkin spice, weren’t you?)
(This article is an excerpt from my #1 Amazon Best Selling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. You can grab it on sale on by clicking here!)
Even though it’s still hot in most of the US, the reality is that soon it will be chilly and crisp and ready to break out the Halloween candy.
But not quite yet – there’s still plenty you can plant to harvest before frost hits….AND plenty you can plant and overwinter.
Here’s 11 vegetables and herbs you can start right now, even if you’re a little late to the game!
11 Vegetables You Can Start In August For A Full Fall Harvest
Beans, beans, the magical fruit….Right now you can plant both pole beans and bush beans.
We’ve planted bush beans because it’s very hot and humid into October, and I’ve noticed vining plants don’t do so well in the super hot months (we’re in Zone 7). Bush-type plants also help conserve water.
You can either plant a lot of beans at once (and then you’ll have to preserve large batches – just be aware of it) or succession plant every 7 days from now until August 15.
Give them a Southern exposure so they get as much light as possible.
If you haven’t gotten your sauerkraut quota for the year yet, there’s still time to plant some cabbage. In our area (Zone 7), cabbage planted in March doesn’t do so well in the heat of June, so a late summer planting (with a maturity date in October) fairs better – cabbage loves cool weather.
If your cabbage hasn’t fully matured by the time frost hits (it can survive in low temps down to about 25 degrees), harvest the large leaves for wraps – super yummy!
Cover crops, such as clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, and any other member of the Little Rascal’s gang, can help preserve your top soil and add nutrients that’ll feed your plants the following spring.
Another option is winter wheat (and that’s probably what I’ll go with because it’s readily available here).
The type of cover crop you should plant will depend on your zone, so do a bit of research to make sure you pick one that can withstand your local climate. Start now so they’re established before frost sets in.
It’s not just to ward off vampires and bad dates. Garlic is best planted in late August and over wintered for harvest in June the following year. You can read here exactly how to do that.
Just be sure to over winter with lots of straw on top to prevent freezing. Try elephant varieties for milder taste or for using in herbal remedies.
Who doesn’t love kale? If you don’t want kale chips or kale salad, you can always add it smoothies. Plant by mid-august, and wait until after a mild frost to harvest – the leaves will be sweeter!
If you’re cool with cold frames, you might even be able to overwinter if you place your kale in a southern-facing exposure.
Lettuce is super boring…until it’s the only thing growing in your garden. Then it’s better than Betty White, like little green bits of spent summers.
Start sowing your lettuce now, and it should be well-established by fall. Choose early-maturing varieties for best results (and abundant late-fall salads).
Mustard greens aren’t the sexiest leafy greens, but they have their place. Plant them now, and harvest after a light frost. They’ll taste sweeter and add a little bit of spice to your salads.
Water consistently during the hot days of August, and don’t use them for wraps after harvest – WAY too much spice (unless you like that sort of thing. Then totally go for it).
I’m not a huge fan of peas, but even I get into them when it’s time to plant a fall garden. Choose early-maturing varieties, and consider green peas or sugar peas because they taste oh-so-sweet.
If you have too many to preserve all at once, then you can easily freeze them in small batches for winter soups and stews.
Radishes are probably the most overlooked, instant-gratification vegetable out there. But plant some now, and you’ll be rolling in them within 30 days.
Succession plant every week until 30 days before the last frost date. Radishes can withstand a light frost, but a hard frost will do them in.
Spinach is so cool you might even be able to overwinter it. At least, in Zone 7, we can! (No cold frame needed…..)
Start it now, add it to breakfast smoothies come October. Loves cold weather, less than 12 hours of sunlight, and long walks on the beach.
You can grow turnips for the leaves and the roots. It’s like two veggies for the price of one, and if for some reason the roots don’t grow into purple and white globes, you still have SOMETHING to harvest.
Broadcast turnip seeds then thin to at least 4 inches apart. Harvest when the roots are about the size of golf balls so they’re tender and not woody.
The leaves are sublime lightly cooked in olive oil, but please – don’t do what my mother-in-law does and slop them so full of oil they’re like looking at a heart attack – be gentle with the oil. Mix with mustard greens for a tasty side dish.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.