9 crops you can plant in August for fall and winter harvest

The list of crops you can plant in August for fall and winter harvest is actually quite long.

9 crops you can plant in August

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According to some authors there are over 30 different crops you can plant in August for harvest in the fall and winter. In this post I am going to focus on the 9 crops you can plant in August that I consider the base fall and winter crops. But I have included a list of the others you can plant at the bottom of this post.

The instructions in the post are meant mostly for those of you living in zones 4 to 7. If you live in the warmer zones then this post will still help you but your planting dates will be much later.

For those of us in zone 4 to 7 August is our most important month for fall and winter planting.

Your exact planting dates are based on your expected first frost date. Planting for a good fall and winter harvest starts 6 to 8 weeks before your first anticipated frost date. So for most of us that planting date will fall somewhere in the month of August.

Let’s use my garden as the quick example. I live in a zone 6a, almost zone 5. My first frost usually comes right around October 1st. So counting back 6 to 8 weeks gives me a 2 week planting range of August 1st to August 15th. As long as I get things planted during that time frame I can expect a good harvest that will start in the fall and continue through the winter.

Now let’s talk about the 9 crops you can plant in August that I consider the base crops for planting a fall and winter garden.

Brassica or Cole Crops

The first of the crops you can plant in August is actually a whole family! Plants in the Cole or brassica family are perfect crops you can plant in August. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts all do very well in the fall. One very important thing to keep in mind is that you plant all of these plants from seedlings NOT SEED’s.

crops you can plant in August 2

If you plant by seed there will not be enough time for your plants to develop before the cold weather sets in. So you either need to buy seedlings from your local nursery or start your own seedlings indoors in June.  You should be planting those seedlings out into the garden around 6 weeks before the first frost and you should plan on protecting them late in the season with fabric row cover or a hoop house!

Kale

All types of Kale actually belong to the brassica family as well, but it is an very different beast and deserves its own spot on this list. Kale is one of the most hardy plants you can grow in the fall and winter. In fact if you live in a zone 5b or above you can get kale to over winter in your garden with just the protection of a piece of heavy row cover. The other great thing about kale planted in the fall is frost and freezing temperatures sweeten the kale, changing the flavor considerably. I’m not a big fan of kale most of the time. But grow it in the cold and I will clean my plate every time.

crops you can plant in August 3

Another nice thing about kale is it can be planted either by seed or seedling. Because you use the leaves there is less time needed to get a eatable crop. Just get some seeds in the ground 8 weeks before frost comes and you will have sweet tasty leaves all winter long.

Lettuce

Lettuce will be one of your most abundant crops in the fall and early winter. In fact I love growing lettuce better in the fall than the spring. Lettuce is fairly hardy, so moderate frost and cold night time temps are really not a big deal. And the biggest difference with fall lettuce is you are not fighting the impending heat of summer which causes tip burn and bitterness.

crops you can plant in August 4

You can start planting fall lettuce 8 weeks from your first frost. Continue planting until as close as two weeks. These later plantings can be used as baby greens or could be over wintered in a cold frame for extra early spring harvests. (Learn more about growing fall and winter lettuce here)

One of our favorite lettuces to grow for winter harvest is Winter Density.  It is a very hardy variety that does very well in the cold winter months.

Chinese greens

Chinese greens are next on the list of crops you can plant in August.  These are also technically part of the brassica family. But again they deserve there own spot on the list.

Chinese greens like, pac choy and tatsoi are very hardy and grow super well in the fall. The cool fall temperatures give these greens a nice flavor.

Chinese greens can be planted buy seed if you like 8 weeks before your first frost. For an extra early crop you can start them indoors first and tuck them into your garden as spots start to clear out later in the fall.

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Carrots

Carrots are one of our favorite late fall and winter treats. As the temperatures start to get cold an amazing change takes place inside your carrots. The starches in the plants turn to sugars, making winter harvested carrots sweet and delicious. These are seriously some of the best veggies you will ever eat!

crops you can plant in August 8

August is usually a pretty hot time for most of us, that means you have to give your carrots extra attention to get them germinated and off to a good start. Plan on watering the seed bed lightly once or twice per day. Or you could try covering the bed with damp burlap like my friend Jess.

We like to cover our carrot bed with a hoop house or a cold frame, but in a pinch when the weather really starts getting cold in December just cover the bed with straw. (Learn more about growing winter carrots here)

Our favorite carrot to grow in the fall is Little Finger, they are smaller but have a short maturity date which helps them size up in time for winter!

Spinach

Spinach planted in the fall is an amazing plant. A little protection with a hoop house or cold frame will give you 6-8 months of harvest. An August planting of spinach with give you a harvest starting in mid October. If you cover the bed with a hoop house or cold frame you can continue to harvest small amounts all winter. Then when the spring arrives the plants will take off again and provide a great harvest until May.

crops you can plant in August 7

Start planting spinach 8 weeks before your first frost. Just like lettuce you can continue to plant up until 2 weeks before your first frost. The later planting won’t give you a harvest in the fall but they will over winter for any early spring harvest.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard is another super hardy plant. Treat it the same way you would spinach. Early plantings will give you fall and winter harvests. Later plantings will give you early spring harvest if you protect the plants with a hoop house or cold frame.  All of your fall planted Swiss Chard will over winter in a cold frame.  Expect the fall and winter harvests to consist mainly of small leaves.  In the spring you will get a very early harvest of traditional larger Swiss chard plants.

Beets

Early plantings of beets will give you a regular harvest of roots late in the fall. Later plantings of beets will only yield the tops, but still give you something different to add to your fall salads.

crops you can plant in August 6

In order to have beet roots to harvest you should start planting at 8 weeks before your first frost.  Anything after about 6 weeks before the frost will end up only producing tasty tops.

Turnips

Once known only as fodder for farm animals, or as peasant food. Plant breeders have really improved the taste and variety of turnips. Look for tasty Oriental varieties and many other smaller rooted turnips.

crops you can plant in August 5

Just like beets you will need to get these planted early if you want to harvest roots. 8 weeks before your last frost would be perfect. Later plantings will yield only tops.

Unless you live in a fairly mild winter area, don’t plan on overwintering beets or turnips, they are just not hardy enough to survive the winter.

Other Crops you can plant in August

The 9 crops I listed above are what I consider my “base” crops for my fall and winter garden.  There are several other crops that can be planted in August and harvest in the fall and winter.  The include the following:

Are you interested in learning more about season extension?  My 5 hour Year Round Gardening course is a great way to learn more about this fun aspect of gardening.  Follow the link on the photo below to start learning more!!

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50 Comments

  1. Michelle Hedgcock August 3, 2016 1:59 pm Reply

    Great info! I still have about an hour and 20 minutes left of the year round gardening course. My husband has a new project…making me a cold frame. 🙂 I’m hoping he can get it done in time. Picked up some seeds today for the fall garden. Have planted a few things but need to make room for others. Just as soon as I get the rest of the onions out (and, ahem, weeds) I’ll be planting kale and Swiss chard. I’ve only had kale once and it was yucky so I’m hoping for the sweetness you’ve mentioned. Never had Swiss chard before and am looking forward to trying it.

    • Mr. Stoney August 3, 2016 2:22 pm Reply

      Swiss chard is so hardy you can’t not make it part of your winter garden. That said, it isn’t my favorite veggie, but it makes a good addition to any salad, can be cooked like spinach and when fully grown the stalks make a passable replacement for celery.

      You will like the kale much better in the winter. Make sure it gets several heavy frosts before you eat it and you will think it is a different veggie.

      • Candy Richman September 5, 2016 2:36 pm Reply

        You may want to try Swiss chard rolls made like cabbage rolls but no boiling leaves or baking forever.

        • Mr. Stoney September 6, 2016 10:00 am Reply

          Sounds good!!

  2. Sheila August 4, 2016 8:14 pm Reply

    I thought cabbage was also a good fall crop?

    • Mr. Stoney August 4, 2016 10:38 pm Reply

      Yes, your right! I included them in the first section about the cole or Brassica family. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi! All great fall crops!

  3. Amber August 5, 2016 3:19 pm Reply

    I love winter carrots!!! Great in salads they are sweet and so delish! This also needs a few Frost’s to make it better!!!

    • Mr. Stoney August 5, 2016 3:31 pm Reply

      Yep! One of our favorite winter time treats!!

  4. Shanti August 8, 2016 1:02 pm Reply

    Are snow snap peas a good fall/winter crop? I missed my window in the spring and am hoping to get some this time around. Thanks!

    • Mr. Stoney August 8, 2016 4:38 pm Reply

      Yes snow and sugar snap peas are both great for the fall! Here’s an article I wrote about them: http://ourstoneyacres.com/growing-peas-in-the-fall-2 . My biggest worry would be where you live. Depending on when your first frost date is you may already be too late to get them planted. Mine have been in the ground for 3 weeks and are already about 2 inches tall! I’m in a zone 6 and our first frost is around October 1st.

      • Shanti August 8, 2016 7:09 pm Reply

        Thanks for the reply. My first frost date is Oct 12. So I am a little late. I’m going to give it a whirl anyway. I love your site. Thanks!

        • Mr. Stoney August 8, 2016 7:32 pm Reply

          I think you are right on the edge! You have around 8 weeks till that first frost, give it a go, I will bet you will end up with a decent crop!!

          • Collet Crabill August 16, 2016 4:24 pm

            My thought is if there is a frost coming go ahead and harvest those pea shoots, they are great in salads and soups!

    • KD August 12, 2016 5:43 am Reply

      Even if you don’t have time to get peas, you can harvest pea shoots (i.e., tender tips) off your plants. They make a fantastic crisp crunchy “pea flavored” addition to green salads when chopped, and can be lightly sauteed for a side dish. This pruning of the tops also keeps your plants bushier and easier to harvest if you do have time for peas to form before hard frost kills the plants.

  5. Todd Charske August 9, 2016 5:01 am Reply

    Good article thanks
    Although I’m in zone 9

    – Todd Charske

    • Mr. Stoney August 9, 2016 10:30 am Reply

      Thanks, Todd!
      Remember from the post, the key is your frost date, so if you have frost just count back 8 weeks. If not??? Well we are all very jealous while we are freezing our tails off! 🙂

    • Dot-t September 3, 2016 12:52 pm Reply

      Hi guys what zone is rich.va.

  6. Samantha August 9, 2016 7:19 am Reply

    Great post! Timing is super critical with sowing of fall crops. Folks need to know when they’re first fall frost date is expected and plan accordingly. If you don’t know when that is, you can check with your local cooperative extension, or use an online calculator. Thanks for sharing!

    http://runamukacres.com/blog

    • Mr. Stoney August 9, 2016 10:31 am Reply

      Yep, timing is key! 6 to 8 weeks from your first frost is the window!

  7. John Pritchett August 9, 2016 5:30 pm Reply

    Thank you

  8. Erica August 10, 2016 10:33 am Reply

    Will this be fine for those in the northeast? (New England falls can sometimes be brutal)

    • Mr. Stoney August 10, 2016 2:04 pm Reply

      Erica,
      Yes! The guy I originally learned how to do all this from (Elliot Coleman) lives in Maine Zone 5. Consider adding a cold frame or a hoop house to your beds as the fall moves along. That extra protection will really extend your harvest! I have crops in my cold frame all winter long in Zone 5!

  9. Lisa Edwards August 15, 2016 11:17 am Reply

    I live in Colorado and our first frost is set for Oct 2. Do you think I can still plant a fall garden?

    • Mr. Stoney August 16, 2016 12:37 pm Reply

      Lisa, you are right on the edge. If you get something planted this week you will still have a good crop, just maybe not as goods as if you planted a couple of weeks ago.

  10. Jennifer August 16, 2016 11:34 am Reply

    Great article! I live in the SF Bay Area, so we don’t really get frost, though it gets pretty chilly around January/February(my favorite time of year here!) I’m from northern Michigan and did quite a lot of gardening back home but my green thumb seems to have turned black, which I’m sure has to do with the extreme climate difference! I still am just clueless as to when I need to be planting things. I put in an orange tree (which is super exciting to me) and it took a year but I have TONS of baby orange buds (?) finally! Anyways, my questions are… 1) when is the best time for me do do my “fall” planting and harvest if I don’t get a frost, living in downtown Oakland (i have a backyard and a big space in the front with just the richest topsoil I’ve ever seen…I have this enormous rose Bush that’s been there for what looks like decades, with branches like tree trunks (in other words, things thrive!)
    2) do you know if there are any natural ways to prevent groundhogs/gopher? I have one that makes his rounds through the neighborhood and has just wreaked havoc on my flower beds and almost ate my beloved orange tree, lol. I’ve read human pee is very effective, but I feel like people might find me a bit odd.

    • Mr. Stoney August 16, 2016 12:35 pm Reply

      The nice thing about frost free areas is your fall crops also become winter crops! I actually lived the the Bay area for a couple of years when I was younger and I love the weather there!! As I don’t have any actual gardening experience in your area I would suggest you reach out to some gardeners or local groups. Also look for bloggers that live in a similar climate. The nice thing for you is you can plant cool season crops now! And probably again in a month or two and you will have a continuous harvest all fall and winter!!

      Unfortunately I don’t have any natural experience with Gophers. We just dispatch them with a trap but it sounds like you aren’t interested in that method. Cats can also help. Beyond that you will have to search around for a few other ideas.

  11. Karen Coghlan August 22, 2016 1:09 am Reply

    Great Timely Post,,, We live In Arizona, so our best planting time is a little later, but this gives me more to think about… I wonder If I can start from seed?

    http://blueyonderurbanfarms.com

    • Mr. Stoney August 24, 2016 9:45 pm Reply

      There is a good chance that you would still be okay to start from seed.

  12. Bettye Mitchell August 29, 2016 1:19 pm Reply

    Thank you for a great email, good ideas, thanks.

  13. LADEETAMARA August 30, 2016 4:19 am Reply

    Loved your post and it’s accuracy, as well as the quality responses!

  14. Helen August 30, 2016 4:12 pm Reply

    An excellent article, I would like to understand do Do you mean planting or sowing? I am in the west of Ireland, in the hills overlooking the sea. On the whole I am fortunate with my veg crops, though limited in range, however I would like to keep the production up for as long as possible by sowing, I don’t have access to veg plugs at this time of year. Thank you

    • Mr. Stoney August 30, 2016 4:42 pm Reply

      Helen,
      Great question. I think there may be a bit of a Language difference here. Planting and sowing mean the same thing to me. So, let’s put it this way. All of the Cole family crops (broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels Sprouts) I plant from starts (or your term veg plugs). We do have some nurseries that carry them this time of year but I usually grow my own starts indoors under lights. I get these starts going in mid June so that they are ready to plant by early August. All of the other items on my list I usually plant by seed (sowing) and they do great. Sometimes I will also start lettuce indoors, but that is just a personal preference, not really a requirement.

      Keep in mind that we are at different latitudes, so you would have a little less sunlight than I do this time of year. So you might consider moving up my recommended planting dates just a bit (maybe 2 weeks).

      BTW, my daughter visited Ireland this spring and brought back loads of photos. You live in a fantastically beautiful country!!

  15. Muhammad Dawood Khan September 5, 2016 9:01 am Reply

    Mr. Stoney…thanks for sharing such a lovely stuff. I live in NW Pakistan where temp plunges down to -10 app in Dec Jan. can I still go ahead or its too late.

    • Mr. Stoney September 5, 2016 11:16 am Reply

      It sounds like you are a little colder than we are here. No that we have moved into September, you are getting a little late. You may still have some success with a few plants but you will need to offer them protection, and those plants will be for overwintering for early spring harvests now. Go read this post for more info!! http://ourstoneyacres.com/5-crops-you-can-still-plant-in-september

  16. linda dobek September 15, 2016 10:59 am Reply

    this has become one of my favorite sites. i planted more fall veggies instead of flowers this year. how cold can it get before greens cant survive ? i live in ri..thanks

    http://retired

    • Mr. Stoney September 16, 2016 11:36 am Reply

      Linda,
      Wow, thanks! It really depends on the green. Unprotected lettuce won’t survive below 30 for very long. It make take a few nights that low, but after a few times being frozen it will give out. Spinach & Swiss chard will do better longer. Kale will be your most hardy green. We will often have kale last unprotected in the garden until late December. BUT all of this changes if you add a hoop house or even better a cold frame for protection! When you do that then most greens can last all winter long!! So look into that. I have a whole winter gardening section up in the gardening menu, go check it out.

  17. Adele Virtue August 7, 2017 4:30 pm Reply

    Sadly, we live in a frost pocket. Though we are in a zone 4, we usually have a killing frost the full moon of August. We have hoop houses and cover with frost cloths and that helped last year for the tomatoes, peppers and tenders. But this year we are blessed in that the full moon of August is tonight, the 7th, so not a frost night. We should have no frost then until the full moon in September. Sad thing is we had a heavy frost on June 13th again this year, 3rd year in a row for that. So we have a very short growing season. So we grow a lot and can/freeze/dry a lot! Oh and of course share a lot!

    • Mr. Stoney August 7, 2017 7:47 pm Reply

      That is a very short growing season! Cold frames and hoop houses will help you out a BUNCH!!

      • Adele Virtue August 8, 2017 8:16 pm Reply

        we have 2 40′ long hoop houses. We thought that would work the first year we lived here and went out to find black tomato plants the morning after the first frost. We never have again. Last year we had the hoop houses with frost protective covers over the peppers and tomatoes and were able to get an extra 2 weeks in before we gave up and just picked all the green ones and brought them in to ripen. They do ripen but they do not taste as sweet as vine ripened tomatoes.

        • Mr. Stoney August 9, 2017 10:38 am Reply

          My only other suggestion to you would be to switch your thinking about what crops you are trying to extend. Hoop houses can get you a few more weeks with warm season crops, but they would get you several months with cool season crops like lettuce, spinach, carrots, chards, Asian Greens, broccoli, cabbage, kale, etc.

          • Adele Virtue August 9, 2017 6:09 pm

            We grow most of those, but outside of the hoop houses. I just use the frost row covers on them staking it down during the worst of the frosts. We do have enough for the 2 of us and plenty for preserving also and of course sharing with others. We have found out that root crops grow well here and since I try to stick to 70 day varieties of tomatoes, though they are green we do still get them. It would be hard to go without tomatoes, hubby is half Italian. 🙂

  18. WhereEaglesDare August 8, 2017 10:22 am Reply

    This maybe off topic, but are sweet potatoes a fall/winter plant as well?

    • Mr. Stoney August 8, 2017 11:51 am Reply

      No, sorry! Most Sweet potatoes need 100 + days of frost free weather. They are for sure a warm weather crop and need a lot of time to mature without frost! The cool fall temps and frost would kill your plants. They need to be planted in the spring and grown in the summer.

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