Fall planting guide

From dramatic seasonal containers to gorgeous autumn grasses, here's everything you need to plant this season

Plant a cool-season vegetable garden

Get our crop list and growing guide, and enjoy homegrown greens in fresh salads and stir-fries all winter

Planting secrets from Sunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver
Thomas J. Story

Planting secrets from Sunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver

Design I love the keyhole-shaped bed! It frames the planting so the crops never look out of control as they grow.

Soil I till the bed with a garden fork to remove rocks and break up clumps before raking the soil smooth. Then I cover the soil with a few inches of compost, till that in, and rake again.

Planting I start most of the seeds indoors in September ― except arugula, which I sow directly in the ground ― then transplant seedlings outdoors six to eight weeks later. (In cold climates, plant in spring.) I always sow extra seeds in case some don't germinate, and I keep excess seedlings in case any plants in the ground fail.

Spacing Though I follow the recommendations on the seed packets, I space seedlings on the tighter end of the range so the beds will look lush.

Harvesting When arugula reaches 4 to 6 inches tall, I shear it down to 1 to 2 inches tall so it will regrow. Once chard, kale, and mustard have developed about eight leaves, I pick their outer ones so the plants keep producing. 

More: Your guide to cool-season crops

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