Appalachia Gardening

Planting A Fall Garden

Growing a fall garden radishes

The last few days have brought slightly cooler temps to Western NC with just the tiniest hint of fall. My summer garden is still producing but my mind is already thinking of what I’ll plant in my fall garden.

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Sow True Seeds which is an open-pollinated, GMO-free vegetable, herb and flower seed company specializing in Southern Appalachia varieties.


Fall – Winter Gardens written by Sow True Seeds

After battling weeds and garden pests all summer, a fall-winter garden can be a delightful reprieve from those garden stressors, and fill your veggie basket or crockpot full of delicious produce. The key to a successful fall and winter garden is planning, so though you may be feeling overwhelmed (and delighted!) with the current avalanche of tomatoes and peppers, now is the time to plan and plant. With just a little bit of forethought you can be harvesting fresh vegetables in the snow.

In fall and winter, gardeners should be aware of two factors that will affect their harvest success: temperature and day length. As the days get shorter, plants slow their growth until finally going dormant in the deep winter months of December and January. Greens can still be harvested but they won’t rebound until the days get long again. While outdoor gardeners can’t control the day length, they can plant more plants then usual and expect longer maturity times to account for the slow growth.

Changes in temperature have a much more dramatic effect on gardens. Some plants tolerate a light frost and actually taste sweeter after the cold like carrots and kale. Others, like lettuce, are more easily damaged so keep an eye on the weather, particularly nighttime lows. Early cold snaps can kill young starts, so be prepared to protect vulnerable plants with row covers if the night temperature dips below freezing before your vegetables are fully mature.

The trick to planning a fall-winter garden is making sure the plants are fully mature before the days get too short and the nights too cold. A good rule of thumb is to find your first frost date and then count backwards the days until maturity information on your seed packet.  Frost dates can vary up to a month in WNC so check with the NC Cooperative Extension Agency for the date specific to your micro-climate.


For example, radishes are an excellent fall-winter garden choice because they mature quickly. Our French Breakfast Radishes reach maturity in 24 days, so if you were planting them in the Asheville area you would look at the frost date Oct 23rd on a calendar and count back 24 days – giving you the window of now until September 29th to sow radish seeds in your garden.

But don’t wait until September to start planting radishes! To extend your harvest, use succession planting. For lettuces and root crops like carrots, beets or radishes, direct seed a few feet every couple of weeks and you’ll ensure a bounty of vegetables throughout the fall and early winter.

Would you like to try something new this fall?  Many folks think of peas as an early spring variety, but shelling, snap, or snow peas like Mammoth Melting or Super Sugar Snap peas do quite well direct seeded in a fall garden – don’t forget to add a trellis as these varieties love to climb. Plant onion seed soon for spring harvest (intermediate or short day onions work best for the Asheville region, try our Red Torpedo onion) and seed garlic in late fall for early summer harvest.

If you haven’t already started some of the slower maturing varieties like broccoli, cauliflower or brussel sprouts, purchase these as starts. Sow True Seed will be offering a selection of fall and winter starts in our retail store beginning in early September.

Even if you don’t plant a fall and winter garden, consider seeding a fall cover crop, like our Organic Fall Planted Soil Builder Mix, into your unused space. Cover crops are a great way to enrich tired soils by incorporating vital organic matter and adding nitrogen, while also protecting bare ground from erosion, suppressing weeds, and improving the overall structure and water storage capacity of your soil.

With proper planning and a just a little bit of maintenance, fall and winter gardens can provide the home gardener with a bounty fresh vegetables throughout the cold season without the same headaches (read: weeds and garden pests) that we experience in the warmer weather. Happy growing!


Sow True Seeds sponsored my garden this year-and The 4th Annual Blind Pig & the Acorn Planting By The Signs Test.

I hope you enjoyed the thoughts Sow True Seeds shared on planting a fall garden. Even though my kitchen counters are still full of garden bounty-their guest post makes me want to start making a list of fall garden items to plant.

Do you plant a fall garden too?



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  • Reply
    September 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    No, I haven’t planted a fall garden before. I would love to but I think it may be a little late now.***sniff***

  • Reply
    Madge @ The View From Right Here
    August 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Good advice… I’d like to try a fall garden someday…

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    August 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Good post Tipper and good advice.. I got my Mustard Greens out and that’s it for the winter.. Of course my Mom wouldn’t eat them after they got frost bit..She said they’d give you the I haven’t been around lately.. alot has been going on, my brother was working with the two D.O.T. men that got killed the other day and you can only imagine the shape he’s been in.. They were standing beside him when it happened..Those families of the men are pitiful..They need prayers so bad.. Another brother is going in the hospital for Prostate Surgery.. He’s got cancer..And to top it all off, my son just got married.. Needless to say I ain’t had any sense lately, so please forgive me.. Blessings

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve never planted a Fall garden.
    This year’s bounty about spoiled
    me. Already making plans thinking
    about some changes for next year’s
    harvest. We still got 3 rows of
    taters to dig in October. Hope
    they’re as plentiful as the first
    two we dug. Good luck with yours.

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    We are planting a Fall garden and just put in the turnips, mustard greens, cabbages and some Brussel sprouts. We are new to a Fall garden and we need some help on the garlic and onions. I will try contacting Sow True Seeds for advise this year and some good seeds too! Our soil has so much shale and clay that growing tuberous plants can be an issue, but I hope to go and get some good hardwood compost to try growing carrots again. If you have not tried icicle radishes I highly recommend them. Not so hot and sweetly crisp! 🙂

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    August 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

    The only fall crop we plant is turnips. We’ve already planted them, but they are slow coming up because of how dry it is. I love peeling turnips, slicing them and eating them raw.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I’m going to try to plant some radishes and turnips. That’s all I’ll have room for. I never liked turnips when I was young but have developed a taste for them now that old age has crept up and jumped all over me. I still don’t like the greens but might try again if they grow good.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    August 16, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Early Spring, heat and drought, now rain and more rain…
    Hummmm, wonder if Sow True Seeds has a “how to” on growing rice and rice paddy development….
    I am looking forward to a good old mess of collards, kale or turnip greens…cornbread, pinto beans and onions…yummmm!
    I was just thinking about planting greens yesterday and wondering if the signs were right.
    Thanks Tipper and Sow True Seeds…

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I just bought turnip and kale seeds to plant today before the rain sets in. The short maturity time for radishes really surprised me as I have never raised them. I will not be able to say that after this year. Back to the store I go.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Definitely food for thought! I enjoyed the suggestions and when I get back to my NC house, I will consider trying some radishes. Happy planting!

  • Reply
    August 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    My Dad always had a fall garden, but I don’t remember a winter garden. I’m going to have to check with our Extension office and see what plants they suggest for this area. My tomato plants and the squash also just got too wet with all the rain and little sun that we had for 2 weeks. I’m not complaining about the rain, Lord knows that we needed it, but it destroyed any hopes of canning for this year. There is always next year though : )

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