Growing a Year Round Vegetable Garden

Hi guys! I’m Rick; my wife and I are big time gardeners and real food enthusiasts. We blog about our adventures at Drop by some time. I’m super excited for this chance to do a monthly gardening post on Thanks Jen for giving me this opportunity!

For most gardeners, July is a busy time. If your garden is anything like mine, the tomatoes are just getting started, you’ve probably just picked your first summer squash, and your mouth is watering waiting for the first melons or ripe peaches that are only a few weeks away.

Summer time gardens are a real tradition in North America. From June to September gardens all over the country are bursting with fresh veggies. But did you know that fresh garden vegetables don’t need to be limited to just the 4 summer months? With just a little forethought and planning, you can extend your garden well into November AND with some simple structures to offer protection, you can be harvesting veggies year round; even in USDA Zones as cold as zones 3 to 6. You could even take a look at something like these Best Pole Saws which are particularly helpful when it comes to the winter months when you have to prune your trees. As it’s during this period that most trees need to be pruned to give room for growth and you obviously want your garden to flourish all year round.

For the next few posts I’m going to teach you how to expand your garden into a year round vegetable garden! The best part of year-round gardening is that fall, winter and spring gardens are a lot less work! There is not nearly as much weeding, watering or bugs in the off seasons!

Vegetable gardening doesn't need to be limited to the 4 summer months. With just a little forethought and planning, you can extend your garden year round.

Getting Started

July is the time to start thinking about your fall and winter garden so let’s jump right into it!

Nearly anything you grow in the spring will also grow in the fall; and often it will grow even better in the fall. So look around your garden now and start finding spots where you can get some things planted. August 1st is the target date to start your fall planting in Zones 4 to 7 (if you live in a warmer zone, that date will shift later in the year).

So what kind of plants do you want to be thinking about right now? Starting in August you can begin planting lettuce, spinach, carrots, turnips, beets, Asian greens (things like tatsoi and pac choi), kale and even green onions. Just plant these seeds directly into your garden in any empty spots you have. Keep in mind that August, in most parts of the country is HOT, so you do need to give these new plantings a little extra attention and some extra water to help the new plants germinate and thrive. If you start your own seedlings you can get them going indoors on August 1st and save space in the garden until the seedlings are ready to go out in mid September.

Lettuce_7692 (900x600)

Also start checking your garden centers and asking about fall seedlings. Year round gardening is becoming more popular around the country so more nurseries are stocking seedlings for the fall. Look for broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce and kale transplants. Try to get these into the garden as soon as they start showing up at the nurseries in late August and early September.

Kale Leave

Great Fall Plantings

IMG_8261 (600x900)Here’s a quick summary of some great fall crops and what to expect for harvest times. Of course my planting dates are based on a zone 4, 5, or 6 garden (which represents a big portion of the US and Canada). If you are lucky to live in the warmer areas of the country, you will plant later and also be able to enjoy your crops later into the winter. A good rule of thumb is to start your fall plantings about 60 days before your first fall frost.

  • Lettuce – Plant August 1st to 21st – Should start being ready around October 1st, and last unprotected till about November 15th
  • Spinach & Swiss Chard – Plant August 1st to 31st. Your early plantings will be ready to eat in October later plantings with protection can last all winter!
  • Cole Crops (Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi) – Set out seedlings as close to August 15th as possible, should be ready to eat in mid October and last into November
  • Asian Greens (Tatsoi, Pac Choi, Mizuna) – Plant August 1st to 21st ready to eat in late September or early October.
  • Carrots – Plant August 1st to 21st – Ready to harvest November 15th and will last till February with just a little protection
  • Beets & Turnips – Plant August 1st to 15th – Harvest leaves as greens October 1st, small roots November 1st

Your early August plantings will start reaching maturity around the end of September just as your summer garden is winding down. Those plantings, along with any transplants you get in should give you fresh produce until November when the weather really starts to get cold.

Broccoli_0829 (800x600)

Next month we will talk about some simple structures you can build like mini hoop houses or cold frames that will protect those plants into December and January. Also if you plant more seeds in mid September and protect them with a Cold frame they will sit quietly all winter and burst to life in February and March. This will give you some of the earliest harvest you have ever had!

For a more in-depth look at year round gardening be sure to check out my year round gardening series. It includes 9 posts that really get into the details of how to grow veggies year round!!

Rick Stone_9403(333x400)



  1. Love this post! Can’t wait to get my fall crop started! I’m ready for sweet lettuce and spinach again!

  2. Nice post, Mr. Stoney. It’s so nice to see the specifics on when to plant the various crops as, most of the time, only generalities are given and you are left guessing (or worse, throwing your hands up thinking there is not enough time left). I especially love the details on when each crop will be ready to harvest.

  3. Great post there, Mr. Stoney! I love the specifics on the timing for the various vegetables – most of the time only generalities are given, which can leave you guessing (or even worse, throwing your hands up thinking not enough time is left), especially when you have never planted that particular vegetable before.

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