What To Plant In A Zone 3 Fall Garden
As a Canadian gardener, I love the idea of extending our short gardening season. And planting a Fall garden is one of the ways to do just that. For me, the end of August doesn’t mean the end of the garden. Not only is August when I’m harvesting a bounty of food nearly daily, but it’s also when I’m sowing short season crops that will continue to feed us into Fall.
Here’s a look at what to plant in a Zone 3 Fall garden along with what exactly I’m planting in my Fall garden this season.
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This post covers:
- How To Choose Fall Crops
- How Many Days To Maturity Is Ideal For Fall Crops
- What To Consider When Planting In Fall
- What Vegetables You Can Plant In September In Zone 2, 3 and 4
- What I’m Planting In My Zone 3 Fall Garden
How To Choose Fall Crops
When choosing what vegetables to plant in the Fall, you’ll want to look for seedlings or seeds that are considered cool season crops.
Cool season crops thrive in lower temperatures and can typically withstand a light frost.
So what are examples of cool season crops? Think veggies like radishes, turnips, salad greens and brassicas.
Your local garden centre will likely have a wide selection of cool season seedlings available around early-August for you to shop! However, if you’re into the idea of seed starting be sure to start your Fall transplants indoors by no later than mid-July.
How Many Days To Maturity Is Ideal For Fall Crops
The other thing to consider when choosing fall crops is the days to maturity the plant requires.
Plants like tomatoes and peppers need upwards of 90-100 days before they begin producing ripe fruit. In the Fall, we don’t have that much time to work with.
Instead, choose plants that mature quickly. For example, you can harvest baby salad greens in as little as 20 days.
The best way to know when to plant cool weather crops in the Fall is by finding your first frost date for your local area (try my fav free frost date tool if you don’t know yours!). Then, count back how many days you have left of the growing season until then.
For Direct Sowing Seeds: 20-60 days to maturity is ideal for Zone 2-4.
For Transplanting Seedlings: 50-80 days to maturity is ideal for Zone 2-4.
What To Consider When Planting In Fall
The biggest consideration when planting in Fall is your soil quality.
Your soil will likely be depleted of nutrients from growing other plants throughout the season. This is the case whether you were growing in-ground, in raised beds or in containers.
So before you plant any Fall crops, start by amending your soil.
The easiest way to amend your soil is to add compost to it. This is easy to do and can be done right before you sow your seeds.
Check out my post 3 Easy Ways To Organically Fertilize Your Garden for step-by-step instructions on applying compost.
Here’s a few other things to consider when planting in Fall:
- Try practicing crop rotation, meaning planting something different in that space than what was there earlier in the season to support soil health.
- Remove old roots and foliage from past plants to clear room for your new seeds and remove any pathogens or diseases that exist among old plants.
- Invest in some Fall planting tools to keep your plants happy as the weather gets colder, such as a floating row cover, which can extend your season even further.
What Vegetables You Can Plant In September In Zone 2, 3 and 4
Here’s a complete list of the various vegetables you can plant in your Fall garden this September.
Click on any vegetable to easily shop for seeds from my preferred seed provider, West Coast Seeds. I earn a small commission when you place an order using my link, which helps me continue creating free content here for you!
- Cover Crops — green manures that will improve your soil quality for next season.
- Salad Greens — quick growing greens like spinach and arugula do great in the Fall!
- Radishes — radishes typically mature in 30 days or less, so make for great Fall crops.
- Turnips — similar to radishes, turnips are a quick growing root vegetable but take closer to 50 days to mature.
- Asian Greens — harvest as baby greens within 20-30 days or wait until the plants are full grown at the 60 day mark.
- Kohlrabi — produces beautiful bulbs within 55-60 days.
- Collards — a bunching plant with delicious, dark green leaves that will mature between 50-75 days.
- Mustard Greens — fast maturing and so many delicious varieties to choose from. I find they’re even tastier when harvested after a frost.
- Cilantro — once you grow cilantro in the Fall, you’ll never go back. It’s easier in the Fall, no bolting!
- Broccolini — just like broccoli, but fast growing within 50 days or less.
- Endive — similar to Romaine lettuce but slightly bitter in taste.
- Carrots — if planting Fall carrots at the end of August or early September, wait until well after your last frost to harvest. Or, create a cold frame/greenhouse to grow them in.
- Beets — if planting Fall beets at the end of August or early September, wait until well after your last frost to harvest. Or, create a cold frame/greenhouse to grow them in.
- Kale — begin harvesting baby leaves within a few weeks after planting. Kale can withstand hard frosts.
- Broccoli — cover seedlings with a row cover to protect from pests as well as to provide some additional heat when first establishing.
- Cauliflower — apply the same growing tips as broccoli!
- Cabbage — apply the same growing tips as broccoli and cauliflower.
- Brussels Sprouts — be prepared to harvest late into Fall, early Winter.
- Swiss Chard — seedlings will speed up your harvest to a few weeks after transplanting.
What I’m Planting In My Zone 3 Fall Garden
- Lettuce Mix — I’ll likely harvest as baby greens after 20-30 days.
- Winter Density Romaine Lettuce — first time growing this variety.
- China Rose Radishes — from my local friends at Sage Garden Greenhouses!
- Romanesco Cauliflower — in the greenhouse as it’s feeling a little late in the season for a solid outdoor harvest here in my zone.
- Winter Spinach — super cold tolerant.
- Giant Swiss Chard — I’ll plant some in the greenhouse and outside.
- Champion Radishes — also from Sage Garden Greenhouses.
- Mermaid’s Tale Cabbage — going in the greenhouse, we talk about this unique seed on The Grow Guide Podcast with Petra Page Mann, co-owner of Fruition Seeds.
- Purple Kohlrabi — first time for me!
- California Poppies — experimenting this season and sowing some right after our first hard frost, we’ll see what comes up in the Spring.
- Bellezia Arugula — a Fall staple crop for me.
- Buckwheat — as a cover crop.
- Caribe Cilantro — my fav Fall herb to grow.
If you’re seed shopping for Fall planting, be sure to read my post Where To Buy The Best Organic Vegetable Seeds In Canada.
And there you have it!
Leave a comment below if you have any questions, I answer all comments! Or share your own experience with straw mulch. There’s so many creative ways to use it in the garden.
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