One More Time: Fall Planting Dates

Okiedawn OK Zone 7August 7, 2008

I've linked an earlier thread that contains general fall planting dates so that anyone who still wants to plant a fall veggie garden can see what should already be in the ground, and what still can be planted at (and after) this point in time.

Remember that the fall veggie garden is the exact opposite of the spring veggie garden. In the spring, we are waiting for the soil and air temps to warm up enough that our seeds will sprout and grow. In the fall, though, we have to be careful that we don't plant too early, or our tiny seedlings will bake to a crisp and die. Also, we have to plant early enough that warm-season crops can mature before the fall freeze hits. Often, it is a fine line we walk when trying to plant at exactly the right time.

Good luck,


Here is a link that might be useful: Fall Planting Dates

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I came here looking for exactly this info and what do you know?! It was the first thread! I didn't even have to do a search. The bad news is it appears I've missed my window of opportunity for broccoli and cabbage, but I can still get some greens and radishes. Thanks for making it so easy for me.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 2:16PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You're welcome. Fall planting dates are hard since the first fall frost can happen so early some years and so late other years. Here in southern Love County, we have had that first hard, killing freeze as early as September 30th and as late as December 18th in the 9 years we've been here. So, obviously, the date of that first killing freeze is the single most important factor in whether a fall garden is a "big" success or not. I hope we have a long, mild autumn and a late first freeze. For what it is worth, I have planted broccoli, kale, chard and cabbage MUCH later than the listed planting dates. In a year with a late first freeze, it pays off. In a year with an early or average first freeze, it doesn't.

Good luck with your fall garden.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 6:22AM
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I used to work with a woman who said her husband believes the first frost is exactly so many days from the first lightning storm in the spring. I don't remember how many days it was supposed to be. Anyone ever hear of that before? It would be great to be able to predict the first frost that simply, but my question is, what qualifies as the first lightning storm in spring? If you're having spring weather but you haven't reached the first day of spring by the calendar, does that count, or do you have to wait till it's spring by the calendar?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 5:06PM
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I haven't heard of that one, but my grandfather used to say that if it thundered in February, it would frost in May. But that's not always true. Sometimes it thunders in Feb and doesn't frost in May. I sure hope like Dawnthat we get a long mild fall with a late first frost. Didn't frost until Thanksgiving day in 04 as I recall. That'll work for me again.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 3:10PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I haven't heard that one either, Ilene, and I haven't heard Dorothy's grandfather's saying either.

Dorothy, I do remember 2004 and the very late first freeze. It was a glorious, long autumn and the weather in October and November was sheer perfection! Of course, the garden kept producing and the flowers were in bloom until Thanksgiving Eve, and I was tired and READY for the first frost (for once) because I knew I needed to get the garden cleaned out, add manure and compost to the beds, and be ready for planting in late Jan. and early Feb.

The late first freeze in 2004 partially made up for the extremely early first freeze in 1999, which arrived at our house on September 30th! I remember we quickly built a "hoophouse" over 6 tomato plants and saved them from that early freeze and they went on to produce for several more weeks.

I'm really wanting a long, mild autumn but I have a feeling I won't get my wish. It isn't any one thing....I haven't seen more Woolly Bear caterpillars, and their fur (harir?) doesn't seem thicker....or anything like that. I just have a nagging feeling we're due for an early fall. Maybe it is just that it's been a rough summer and I am tired!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 6:22PM
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Yea I hope this fall is like last fall. I had tomatoes clear up into January.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Well, I may be crazy, but I started my winter growing experiment today and I started last week some Siberian tomatoes, cold hardy early variety kohlrabi, and some purple sprouting broccoli to go under low tunnels, and I am starting lettuce and mache.

We will see what happens. LOL. :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:19AM
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I heard on one of the news stations the other day, that in about 10 days we may be getting temps into the 30s at night. Whoopee!

I know a cold winter is good in some aspects, but I loved last winter when we didn't get much, in fact I don't really recall any, freezing precip, and temps were mild in comparison to the previous 2 winters.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:45AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

PushCoGrow, I hope it is like last fall too. Last fall was wonderful. Since we're hoping for a repeat, it probably won't happen. Our weather is so inconsistent.

Ezzirah, I'd never call you crazy. Experimentation is fun and is a great way to learn. You never know whether something will work or not until you try it.

I do lots of experimentation. I always wondered, for example, if I could get tomatoes and peppers in the winter from plants in containers if I dragged them into the garage on cold nights. So I tried it and I did harvest peppers and tomatoes even in December and January. Before I did it, I would have thought it was not possible because of the cold nighttime temperatures, but in that year the outdoor air temperatures dropped into the upper teens before the plants finallly suffered freeze damage in the well-insulated but unheated garage. Who would have thought they'd last that long in there? Even after the damage to the plants occurred, they resumed growing, blooming and setting fruit. Once it was that cold, though, and the number of hours of sunlight daily were so short, peppers and tomatoes grew very slowly and took forever to ripen.

Now, whether anyone would think a cold-weather tomato or pepper has the flavor to make it worth the bother is a different issue. However, I learned it is possible to produce them.

I've got all kinds of stuff in the ground for winter, and am getting ready to set up the greenhouse for cold-weather growing. I've got tons of seedlings in flats ready for the greenhouse experiments. I'm just waiting for cooler weather to arrive to stay. Often we're still having daytime highs in the 90s here in our county until Halloween, so I haven't been in a hurry to put anything in the greenhouse until that sort of heat truly has ended for this year. This week the greenhouse, even with 50% shadecloth has been in the upper 90s and the 100s.

I'm going to grow lettuce in a variety of ways to see which gives the best cool-season performance: in the ground in the garden unprotected, in the ground in the garden under floating row covers, in containers outside under floating row cover, in containers outside unprotected, in containers on the sunporch, and in containers in the greenhouse. I suspect the cats will nibble the lettuce in containers on the sunporch, so it may be more for them than for us. In rainy and cold weather, the cats practically live on the sunporch, venturing outdoors for brief periods only and spending an inordinate amount of time sleeping on the sunporch. In the big garden, birds usually eat unprotected lettuce in the ground in spring---I want to see if they'll do it in fall and winter. I have tried to trick them by planting the fall lettuce in rows in between rows of taller southern peas and bush beans. So far it is working as the taller plants are hiding the lettuce from the birds. Or, maybe the birds are so happily consuming grasshoppers that they aren't in the mood to eat lettuce yet.

About the only thing I've learned about purple sprouting broccoli so far is that the grasshoppers prefer it to anything else I have planted. They haven't touched the Packman or Romanesco Broccoli, but have completely destroyed 1/3 of the Purple Sprouting Broccoli, so now I have it under row covers. I do have tons of grasshoppers still. If there was only a hopper or two around, I don't know that they'd hurt it that much, but we still have hundreds of hoppers per acre.

Susan, I am not ready for cold weather, so I hope it doesn't happen. If it happens, I suppose we'll deal with it. I'll be able to keep the cool-season stuff going for months yet with the protection of a little row cover fabric, but the tomatoes and peppers still are covered with fruit in various sizes and stages of development and I'd love to see them have a chance to ripen in warmer temperatures.

Nothing surprises me here. Our first year here we had a hard freeze around September 29th, but I put up temporary plastic tunnels over the tomato bed and got those plants through the first two cold nights with minimal damage and they then produced for another few weeks.

I prefer the years when the first cold temps don't arrive until December to the ones where the cold temps hit in late September or early October, but we'll take whatever we get.

I loved last winter too, even though the lack of cold had me fearing a hot, dry summer....which is what we got. We barely had any cold weather down here and I put tomato plants in unmovable outdoor containers in February because I was confident enough to think I could cover them up if needed to protect them from freezing on the rare cold night, which is exactly what happened. Usually I put them in smaller, movable containers. I also put tomato plants in the ground the first week in March, which isn't possible most winters.

Since we'd love a mild winter, we probably won't get one. Have you noticed how seldom we actually get the kind of weather we're hoping to have?


    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 8:37AM
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No! No! Ya'll DO Want a cold wet winter - preferably snow and ice as it melts slowly allowing the ground to absorb the moisture. It's very very important to help ease the drought!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 6:39PM
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Sorry Bon, not me. I can't afford to lose any more trees, and ice takes them down.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Bon, I do not want a cold winter. It can be as wet as it wants to be, but I like my winters mild so I love it when they are warm. I am growing a huge fall and winter garden and the mild weather would let it stay in production for the longest period of time.

I agree with Carol that I don't want ice or heavy snow either, and just plain old rain would be peachy. Drought-stressed, weakened trees couldn't tolerate much of an ice load at all. Heavy ice and snow loads are hard enough on healthy trees that are not excessively stressed from the previous summer's drought, and they'd be terribly hard on the trees and shrubs here in OK that have dealt with two consecutive years of severe to exceptional drought.

We'll get whatever we get though, and then we'll just have to make the best of it.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:39AM
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