October Planting Guide – 6 crops you SHOULD plant in October

As the weather cools and you start putting your garden to bed for the winter use this October planting guide to get a few seeds in your garden for spring harvest.

October Planting Guide

As you read this post, please keep in mind that this October Planting Guide is intended for those of us living in USDA Zones 4 to 7. Also you should know that anything you are planting in October in cold winter climates will be planted for SPRING harvest. You won’t be seeing any harvests until early spring or later.

Let me start out by giving you a quick link.  This post is meant for those of you living mainly in Garden Zones 4 to 7.  If you don’t know what your garden zone is follow this link to find out!

October Planting Guide

So what should you be planting in October in your backyard garden.


The first crop in our October planting guide is garlic! Fall is the perfect time to plant your garlic. Garlic planted in the fall will grow stronger, healthier and larger bulbs next summer. By planting in the fall you get a huge head start in the spring. In fact in my opinion, if you didn’t get your garlic planted in the fall then don’t bother until next season!

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Garlic is best planted a week or 2 after your first expected fall frost (notice I said expected, not actual). For us that means we are planting around October 15th. But if you have missed that date already, all is not lost. You can plant garlic right up until the day before your ground freezes. In fact one year I planted as late as November 5 (5 weeks after our first frost date) and still had a great crop the following summer.

To learn more about planting garlic in the fall please check out this growing guide!


Like garlic, shallots are often best planted in the fall. They are not quite as cold hardy as garlic so those of you in Zone 4 or lower may have some trouble, but for most of us planting shallots at the same time as garlic means a great crop of shallots in the late spring next year. I also recommend for both shallots and garlic that you cover the beds with a nice layer of mulch to help insulate the ground from the worst of winters cold.

You can learn more about growing shallots by reading this growing guide.


Corn Salad or Mache is a little known salad green that grows very well in cool and even cold weather. Mache is one of only 2 crops I know of (claytonia being the second) that will continue to grow when we have less than 10 hours of day light in our gardens.

In fact Mache loves growing this time of year and germinates better in temperatures around 65 degrees in the day time. So October is the perfect time to plant.

October Planting Guide 5

Newly planted Mache is hardy enough that it can survive being unprotected in the garden over the winter.  BUT it will do much better and grow much quicker with the protection of a cold frame or hoop house.

Mache planted in October should germinate before the super cold weather comes and then will slowly grow in your hoop house and will be ready to start eating in February!!
Order Mache Seeds here (Affiliate Link)


Kale planted in October will be ready to start harvesting leaves in early spring. It will likely germinate some time this month and then will sit quietly over the winter in your hoop house. Once the 10 hour days return in February, it will start growing again for a very early harvest!


Next on the October planting guide is spinach. If you choose to plant spinach in October you are for sure planning for the future. October planted spinach will likely germinate late in the month and possibly get one or two “true leaves” before the cold sets in. If protected by a hoop house or cold frame you will find the spinach grows slowly while we have less than 10 hours of day light. Once the sunshine returns in February these tiny plants will take off.  Giving you your earliest (and longest) spinach harvest ever!


Number 6 on the October Planting guide is lettuce. Lettuce is not nearly as hardy as the other crops listed above. But small, newly germinated lettuce plants are actually quite hardy. Planted now the seeds will germinate and grow just a little.

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Protect them with a cold frame and when things start to warm up in early spring these plants will burst into production with a very early crop!

Flower bulbs

This one may seem a little strange, but flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocus and others make a colorful addition to your spring vegetable garden. Although not eatable, they will provide flowers to attract early emerging pollinators to your garden. (and hopefully encourage them to stick around!!) So plant a few bulbs in your garden while you are filling your flower beds.

October Planting Guide 3

Other greens

There are several other greens that, like lettuce, are not the hardiest plants, but their smaller versions will survive the winter with the protection of a cold frame. Some of these greens include arugula, endive, radicio, dandelion, beets, turnips or even radishes. Again you will be planting these for overwintering in the cold frame and for spring harvest.

I hope this October planting guide gets you thinking as you are cleaning up your garden this month. Look around and find some places to plant some of these over wintering crops. Now is also the perfect time to consider building a simple cold frame or hoop house to protect crops over the winter and to give your spring crops a head start!

Questions? Please leave them in the comments below.

Would you like to learn more about Year Round Gardening? Then please consider buying a copy of my on-line Year Round Gardening video course by following the link below!

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  1. Katharine October 6, 2016 10:54 pm Reply

    This is a great list, although I cannot use it much, living in zone 8/9. However, having lived in N. MO for many years, I know when to plant the cool crops. Thanks for reminding and inspiring. 🙂


  2. Sharon Dix October 7, 2016 5:48 am Reply

    What about planting potatoes in the fall?

    • Mr. Stoney October 7, 2016 7:04 am Reply

      I have found that in the cold climates it is is better to plant your potatoes in the spring. Around our area it would be impossible to find seed this time of year.

    • Michelle Mcginnis October 16, 2016 8:44 pm Reply

      We have potatoes that over winter and spread in the spring, it started 10 years ago when we didn’t get all the potatoes harvested. I also had the same thing happen with onions this year that we didn’t know we missed harvesting last year,they were big and delicious this year just like our spuds,. We do plant new seed spuds each year too though.

      • Mr. Stoney October 17, 2016 7:45 am Reply

        We do have an occasionally volunteer potato come up in our garden, but we get pretty cold here in the winter so I have found I get a better crop if I wait until the spring. We would also have a hard time finding seed this time of year in our area!

  3. Michelle October 7, 2016 9:29 pm Reply

    Tulip petals are edible!

  4. Pat October 15, 2016 6:17 am Reply

    Won’t happen at all up north here. Too cold already

    • Mr. Stoney October 15, 2016 1:38 pm Reply

      You’d be surprised! These plants are hardier than you would think! Just give them a little protection from a cold frame and they will be great!!

  5. Andrew October 19, 2016 6:58 pm Reply

    What sort of garlic do you find to be the best? I am looking for a good hardneck variety to harvest those delicious garlic scapes! I have heard they don’t store as long as the soft neck varieties, but I have no experience with that myself.


    • Mr. Stoney October 19, 2016 8:22 pm Reply

      Andrew, the hardneck variety we grow is called German Hardy. It tastes great and grew a great crop of scapes as well. I would check with your local extension agency for varieties that do well in your area.
      And yes you heard correctly, hard neck garlic doesn’t store as long. We grow both types so we have soft neck to last longer.

  6. Cara @ Fashionably Frugal November 2, 2016 10:06 am Reply

    I am so excited, I didn’t know I could plant Garlic in the fall. I put two cloves into one of my raised beds and am looking forward to seeing them come up in the spring. Thank you for sharing these!


  7. Mike the Gardener September 25, 2017 11:59 am Reply

    I planted my garlic a couple of weeks ago, and my kale, lettuce, radish and beets are going. I am guessing the radish will be done by the end of October.

    The fall/winter gardening is forgotten about. A lot of people don’t realize you can still grow some crops in cooler climates and shorter days.


  8. Jerri September 27, 2017 9:59 am Reply

    How do you keep your fall/winter crop watered?

    • Mr. Stoney September 27, 2017 10:58 am Reply

      Good Question. If you live in Zones 7 or below you really shouldn’t need to water from about mid November till Mid March. Your crops are just in “cold storage” at that time and there should be enough moisture in the soil that you don’t need to water. If I feel like they need a little water I might take a watering can out and water them that way, but I very seldom feel like they need water in the winter.

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