So, you want to know what to plant in September!
Great. I’ve got answers…lots of answers and advice. Just keep reading!
What’s your frost date? Work back from there…
So, you want to know what to plant in September. Read on for comprehensive information that will ensure you get the most from your kitchen garden this month, and have a solid plan for fall and winter harvests.
Stony Ridge Farm, where I live work and play, is in Harpers Ferry, WV. Our USDA hardiness zone is 6a. We have even, four-season weather with the last frost in early May and the first frosts in mid-October.
When planting a September vegetable garden, you’ll want to know your fall frost date. You can implement the advice below by working back from that date.
Knowing your plant hardiness zone will allow you to tailor general garden task information to your specific climate. Click here to learn more.
For instance, if you want to harvest kale through the fall and winter months, you are going to want it to be well established before the first frost. Kale can take, even thrive with, a hard frost. But, it should be mature by the time the first touch winter alights upon its tender leaves.
Kale takes 55 days to mature from transplant and 70-80 days to mature from direct seed. My frost date is October 15. That means I’ll need to get kale starts in the ground by mid-September or direct seed Labor Day weekend for best results.
Got it? Good.
Download this seed starting worksheet to keep track of your efforts. Using it consistently will help you create a planting guide perfect for the micro-climate of your kitchen garden.
A Word About Hardiness Zones When Planning What to Plant in September
Here’s a quick overview of plant hardiness zones. Photo Credit: Wikipedia. Use this information to tailor the information in this post to your specific climate.
A word about cold frames, hoop houses, and row covers
To maintain harvests throughout the fall and winter months, your kitchen garden will need some infrastructure. Over the years, I have invested in elaborate structures to ensure harvests for the members of our farm share program. Now that I grow for my small household of 2 people, my 4-season gardening infrastructure is much simpler and easier to maintain when the inevitable blizzard comes our way.
Read on for best 4-season gardening practices for the kitchen garden. But first, check out these recommended, and I believe must-have, resources from the best in the business.
The 4-Season Garden in Fall
Flexibility is the word for working in the 4-season garden in the fall. When thinking about what to plant in September, you’ll also need to think about the changing conditions as the season slips from summer to fall.
Summer pests and diseases are still a threat. with the first light frosts, they will recede and your vegetables will be beautiful!
In September the hours of daylight are quickly shortening, there’s more moisture in the soil, and soil temperatures are cooling off.
The change in the kitchen garden from mid-August to mid-September is dramatic.
You need an infrastructure that can allow you to protect pants and seedlings in the early weeks of September but still capture the much welcome moisture and heat. Cold frames, hoop houses, and floating row covers are the perfect remedy.
This resource comes with free building plans for a very versatile cold frame.
It's important to remember to ventilate your cold frames on sunny days. This article goes into this in detail. One April morning I turned my tomato seedlings to dust by forgetting to vent the cold frame. Please learn from my very painful mistake.
This video demonstrates the exact process we use here at Stony Ridge Farm for our unheated hoop houses. What do you think? One word of caution. If a blizzard is predicted for your area, remove the UV plastic and use it to lay over your crops. This will stop the weight of the snow from crushing the structure and save you, dear gardener, a lot of heartaches.
Floating Row Covers
Find the Right Floating Row Cover for Your Garden | Organic Gardening Blog
Row covers solve a multitude of gardening problems. This post will help you know if it is the right solution for your garden.
Local cooperative extensions are a great source of information for organic gardeners.
Cold Hardy Vegetables and Herbs
If you August was busy, or too hot to plant, that list works just as well for the September garden. Many of the plants listed can even be planted in October, like spinach, mache, and some lettuces.
I also wrote this nifty piece called The Ultimate Fall Planting Guide. If your seasons are more fluid or have more time in one fall month over another, this guide will help you build a comprehensive plan for the fall. The recommendations in the article will help lighten your garden load come spring and well worth the upfront time.
3 Must-Have Crops for the Fall Garden
Maybe you are busy. That busy-ness may keep you from digging down into all that information listed above. If that’s the case, then stop right here and read about these 3 must-have vegetables for the fall garden when deciding what to plant in September.
Carrots are candy when harvested after the first frost. Of all the root vegetables, they have the highest glycemic value. I believe the best way to enjoy carrots from the fall and winter garden is roasted.
Planting carrots in August is a challenge. They have a very long germination period of up to 2 weeks. This creates conditions for 2 extreme threats to your carrot crop: drying out and excessive weeds. You must water your carrots daily for the first 2 weeks for successful germination. After the first week, you’ll need to keep an eye on weeds in a way that does not harm the germinating seeds. I add vermiculite to my rows and sow the seeds directly into the vermiculite, then cover lightly with soil.
Allium | Onions
The onion family is always partying in my garden! Not only do I cook with them constantly, but they are also great for repelling insects in a struggling bed, and really don’t need a whole lot of attention. Here’s how to plant Allium in August for fall and winter harvests…
Leeks can be started from seed in the winter garden. They are extremely cold hardy and can survive in temperatures as low as -10 F. I plant my leeks think and simply harvest to thin throughout the fall and winter. They bring an earthy sweetness to winter meals like no other!
Leeks are one of those vegetables we can enjoy in the kitchen garden year-round. They are one of the first to go in in late winter, get a second planting in June, and this final succession in August.
Scallions, also called bunching onions, are not quite so cold hardy as leeks but still deserve a place in the August garden. Plant in thick rows that can be harvested one handful at a time as needed. Use the entire plant both fresh and cooked.
You can purchase onion sets, those little bulb onions, and plant them in August for harvest next June. Yes, they overwinter and actually go dormant in the darkest winter months. As day length and soil temperature rise, the bulbs awaken and grow to maturity earlier than spring-planted onions. It’s a great way to use open space in the kitchen garden after late summer harvest.
Herbs for the Fall Garden
Renew a burnt-out herb garden with cool weather herbs. Having these tasty and nutritious ingredients available for fall and winter meals in one of the best parts of maintaining a kitchen garden.
Chives are a member of the Allium family mentioned above used for their leaves and blossoms. We grow them in the herb garden. They are perennial and need to be planted in a place you want them to return to, year after year.
I have chives in my oldest herb garden that are ten years old. They have created a beautiful ground cover around and between raised garden beds.
This soft-stemmed, leafy herb is referred to as cilantro when we are using the green leafy parts, and coriander when we use the seeds. The botanical name for the plant is Coriandrum sativum. It is also commonly referred to as Chinese Parsley.
No one is neutral about cilantro. It’s a love it or hate it kind of herb!
If you love it, grow plenty. Then, preserve it in a pesto for uses in summer when temperatures are too high for the plant to thrive.
Dill is beautiful, aromatic, flavorful and a nutrition powerhouse! It only takes 70 days to come to maturity, so succession planting every 2 weeks in August and September will give you a nice steady harvest. Remember to save your dill seeds for culinary purposes as well. They are great added to vinegar pickles and ferments!
Parsley is another cold hardy herb to plant in the August garden. It is perfect served fresh in summer salads and cooked in winter stews. It’s an essential part of the seasonal kitchen!
Perennials and Overwintering Crops
Perennial and overwintering crops provide tasty and nutritious food for your seasonal meals while requiring much less effort than annual vegetable crops.
Perennial crops include rhubarb, asparagus, berries, and some herbs.
Overwintering crops include garlic, onions, spinach, kale, and mache, to name a few.
Care for Existing Perennials
Existing perennials will benefit from a good weeding, fertilizing and mulching in September. The healthier the root system on these plants, the better the harvest.
This is one of the more satisfying jobs in the kitchen garden. As weeds and bugs receded with the changing temperatures, many perennials take on a new life. The cleaned-up bed and revived plant are sights to behold. I especially love my rhubarb patch in the fall. So much green beauty!
Perennials to Plant in the Fall Vegetable Garden
When deciding what to plant in September, consider these perennials that will benefit from getting their root systems established in the fall and winter months:
- Rhubarb crowns
- BUnching onions and walking onions
- Berry canes
Overwintering Crops to Plant in September
You’ll need to wait until the first frost in your area to plant garlic, but these vegetables can be planted in September for overwintering. They will benefit from the floating row cover mentioned above.
- Swiss Chard
- Broad beans (fava beans)
Trees and Shrubs
September is a great time to tend to soil because temperatures drop and soils tend to be moist and well-drained. This workability of the soil in the September garden also makes it the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs.
I bought a few bare-root trees back in the spring that have been potted up for a few months. They’ll be planted this September. In my region (6a) we can plant trees and shrubs well into late October.
Here are recommended resources for learning how to plant trees and shrubs in the fall, as well as which species are best for fall planting.
I love this post because it recommends species specifically for fall and/or spring planting.
Bareroot trees are an investment. Be sure you know best care practices before planting.
Focus on shrubs for the fall garden.
You can begin planting those bulbs that will bloom in spring in September. Here are a few tips for success:
Choose the Best Location
Spring bulbs need at least 6hours of sunlight. The fun part about choosing locations for the early bloomers, like daffodils and crocuses, is placing them under trees whose leaves, and thus shade, won’t appear until after they’ve bloomed.
It’s also fun to choose a very warm and bright southern location for these early bloomers. You’ll have the first splash of color in the neighborhood of you do!
I will plant a few tulips inside my hoop houses. The soil will be much warmer in them in the spring, and that will force the bloom. They are so lovely on the breakfast table at a time of year a little devoid of color.
Blubs love rich, well-drained soil. Soil that is too moist will make the bulbs rot, so beware if you grow in clay like we do. Plant fairly deep, three times the depth of the bulb, with the root side down and pointy side up.
Make sure your bed is weed free, and cover with a layer of mulch. the mulch will hold in moisture and keep out weeds.
Bring Plants Indoors
Remember to bring those houseplants indoors come September.
I know, they are so healthy and beautiful from basking in all that natural sunlight and rain. The problem is, the slightest touch of frost on tropical can damage the leaves.
Please check plants for insects and disease before bringing indoors. September is the perfect time to comb over the plants, remove any damage, give a nice hit of fertilizer, and maybe even pot up to a large container. Then, they’ll be better prepared to thrive indoors during the winter months.
Monthly Garden Tips
Click the hotlinks below to be taken to month specific garden tips from Lorrie Season.
January | February | March | April | May | June
July | August | September | October | November
The Kitchen Garden Planner and Journal
Organize your kitchen garden, season by season, month by month, and project by project with this handy Kitchen Garden Planner and Journal! It comes with lifetime access to printable worksheets and journal pages, and membership in the Stony Ridge Farm seasonal living community.
This planner comes with instructions on how to tackle the following tasks and use our worksheets to:
– Design your vegetable and flower gardens
– Track plant selections and how successful they are in your garden
– Document soil amendments and pest control strategies
– Garden budgeting, tracking projections and actual expenses
– Seasonal and monthly planner calendars
– Garden journal pages
Come Join the Party!
If you enjoy seeing life through the lens of the changing seasons, I invite you to stay connected. This is a community of activist-oriented gardeners, cooks, and nature lovers.
If you want a loving community to be a part of your seasonal life, please do anyone (or ALL!) of the following:
- Sign up for the newsletter and get my herbal teas and tisanes recipe book for FREE! Tea is always a welcome addition to any time in the kitchen.
- Join our FREE Facebook group where we’re always talking gardens and kitchens.
- Follow me on Instagram and watch the seasons unfold on my 5-acre homestead in Harpers Ferry, WV.