There are a surprising number of vegetables suitable for zone 6 fall vegetable planting. Many cool-season vegetables seeds can be planted directly in the garden in August. The goal is to get the seedlings planted outdoors in time to take advantage of the warm days of summer while we still have them.
Most people start their fall gardens too late. It’s hard to think about growing crops for the fall when we are just getting into the main season and are starting to harvest many of our summer crops. I start fall crops inside or direct seed outside in July and by mid-August for a fall garden. When you sow seeds in late August, you may not have enough time to harvest before our first frost sometime in mid-October, depending on the crop, so get your fall crop in now.
What can you grow in August? The key is to choose crops with less days to harvest so you get to harvest before it freezes. For example some radishes are 28 days to harvest (see photo). Look at your package to see how long before you can harvest. You also need to add 10 more days as the days get shorter and crops will take longer to harvest. So for this radish, 28 days plus 10 days equals 38 days to harvest so you would still have enough time to grow them since our first frost date is around Oct 10 (but could be earlier or later).
Another alternative is to go buy plants from a nursery and put them out now. Buying plants will get you a good head start.
Use row cover over your seedlings outside to protect them when the nights get cold whether planting from seeds or transplanting.
You will notice that I haven’t mentioned any warm season crops. There is generally not enough time before it gets too cold to start more warm season crops.
An where do you put these fall varieties? Space can be a problem and location too. Anywhere you have already harvested creates more space. For instance, I just picked all my beets and cauliflower and have a lot of space right now, so I’m planting more fall crops in those bed. I also harvested garlic so that bed is empty but not for long! I try to grow my fall garden close to the house so I only have to water with a watering can vs a hose that may or may not freeze which is a pain to empty out if it freezes.
Below is a suggested list of what to plant for a fall garden. Some of these are already growing in the summer garden and will be ready to harvest soon like carrots and beets so you must decide if you want more in late fall. Cool season crops are what you should plant for a fall harvest.
Direct sow seeds outdoors:
lettuce (heat tolerant and cool season varieties)