Vegetables to plant in September
September is plenty of time to plant a second vegetable garden for harvest before the first frost and just in time for Thanksgiving.
Leaf and root cool-season crops get a quick start from seed or seedling in warm summer soil and come to maturity in the cool days of autumn and early winter.
Choose crop varieties with shorter days to harvest. From early- to mid-September you still have 80 days until Thanksgiving. Often, fall harvest crops can be left in the garden into winter, harvested just when you need them for cooking or serving fresh.
Many fall harvest vegetable crops are old-fashioned, open-pollinated varieties, meaning you can save the seeds to grow next year. These varieties have been tested in fall and winter gardens for generations.
Here's a list of fall harvest vegetable varieties that should be easy to find at Swede's Feeds in Kenwood, Friedman's Home Improvement, online seed companies, or from your neighbors:
Rocket (Sylvetta) - 45 days from seed; pungent, short tasty leaves; a wild arugula. Also called Wild Rocket.
Detroit Dark Red. - 55-60 days from seed; 3-inch blood red globes with red interior for table and canning; sweet and tender with tasty green tops. Introduced in 1892.
Early Wonder (Greentop) - 50-60 days from seed; semi-globe, bright red with light zoning; smooth-skinned 3-inch-in-diameter roots with flavorful green tops. Introduced in 1911.
Ruby Queen - 55-60 days from seed; dark blood red round roots; smooth skin and fine, buttery texture, sweet for eating fresh and canning. All-American Selection winner in 1957.
Calabreze Green Sprouting - 60-90 days from transplanting; dark green plant, 24 to 30 inches tall, with small deep blue-green central head. Once central head is harvested many side shoots produce for several months. Came to America with Italian immigrants in 1880s.
Purple Sprouting - 60 days from transplanting (120 days or more from seed); purple-green leaves and deep purple flower buds, very sweet tasting and turns green when cooked. Frost-hardy to 10°F, start in fall for spring harvest. Dates from before 1835.
Long Orange, Improved - 85 days from seed; long, tapered to 12 inches (harvest before maturity), deep-orange roots; very good flavor and long keeping. Introduced by the Dutch in 1620.
Scarlet Nantes (Nantes Half Long) - 70 days from seed; bright orange cylindrical root to 7 inches long with fine texture and sweet flavor. Good storing carrot. Introduced in 1870.
George Blue Stem - 60 to 65 days from seed; tall, blue-green leaves with open, cabbage-like heads; mild, tender flavor improves with frost. Harvest all winter, new leaves form after each picking. Introduced before 1880.
Vates (Dwarf Blue-Curled Scotch) - 55 to 65 days from seed; dwarf, blue-green finely curled leaves; 12 to 15 inches tall and 20 to 35 inches across; flavor improves with frost.
Black-Seeded Simpson - 40 to 55 days from seed; loose leaf, broad light green, crinkly leaves; crisp, mild flavor. Introduced before 1850.
Merveille des Quatres Saisons (Marvel of Four Seasons) - 55 to 70 days from seed; red bibb lettuce turns bright burgundy with cold; pale, creamy yellow hearts; crisp, tender flavor. French heirloom.
Red Sails - 45 to 50 days from seed; compact, maroon-red leaves that deepen color with maturity; mild flavor. All America Selection winner in 1985.
Red Salad Bowl - 45 days from seed; loose, frilly, rosette of wine-red deeply-lobed leaves; mild flavor; cut-and-come-again.
Salad Bowl - 40 to 65 days from seed; loose, frilly rosette of medium-green deeply notched leaves; cut-and-come again; old-time variety.
Winter Density - 55 to 60 days from seed; upright, compact heads; cool-weather favorites.
Cherry Belle - 24 days from seed; smooth, round root to _ inch in diameter; cherry red skin, white flesh; holds crispness. All-America Selection winner 1949.
Early Scarlet Globe - 20 to 28 days from seed; globe-shaped, bright red skin with white flesh; delicate flavor; harvest at 1 inch for best flavor.
Sparkler White Tip - 24 days from seed; globe-shaped, bi-colored bright red upper and white tip lower root; sweet, white flesh; lift when 1 inch across; holds its crispness.
Winter Icicle (White Icicle, Lady Finger) - 30 days from seed; white, carrot-shaped roots, 4 to 5 inches long; tender, mild flavor; harvest small to large. Introduced before 1897.
Giant Nobel - 40 to 55 days from seed; large, smooth green leaves with rounded tip; tender for fresh eating in salads when young; leaves thicken for steaming; excellent flavor. Introduced in 1926.
Giant Winter (Gigante d'Inverno) - 45 to 50 days from seed; large, broad, semi-savoy, dark green leaves; tender and flavorful; cold hardy. Italian heirloom.
Amber Globe (Yellow Globe) - 60 to 65 days from seed; fine-textured, pale yellow flesh with sweet flavor; round to 6 inches across; hardy, keeping until spring. From before 1840.
Purple Top White Globe - 45 to 65 days from seed; round white root below with reddish-purple top above ground; fine-textured white flesh, sweet, mild flavor. From before 1880.
White Egg - 45 to 50 days from seed; medium-large, egg-shaped root with green crown and fine-grained, white flesh. From before 1880.
Be sure to add aged compost or an organic planting mix to your planting beds before you plant these fall crops and clear away any plant debris from just harvested summer crops at well.
Steve Albert is the author of The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide available at Amazon.com. He teaches in the landscape design program at the U.C. Berkeley Extension. He lives in Oakmont.