Giant Red Mustard (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

September is best time to get started on a cool-season edible garden.  While it may seem counterintuitive to plant while summer crops are winding down, the warm soils and cooler temperatures will give plants a jump start on growth for the fall season.  Plant now and you'll have beets, Brussel sprouts, carrots, lettuces, rainbow chard and more ready to harvest by Thanksgiving.

Cool season beds in the Sunset Test Garden (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

Rainbow chard (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

Plant from Seedling

Unless you're ahead of the game and have already started the following cool-season veggies from seed, go ahead and pick up seedlings from the nursery. Pay attention to the spacing recommendations listed on the plant label. Some crops (such as lettuce and mizuna) can be grown as close as 4 to 6 inches apart; others (head-forming cabbages, cauliflower, and romanesco) need plenty of room to mature properly. Plant all in an area with full sun and well-amended soil. Water frequently until plants are established.


Brokali 'Apollo', a broccoli / kale hybrid (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

Seed spacing (Kazoka30/ Getty Images)

Plant from Seed

The following list of veggies are best started from seed. Sow them where you'd like the plants to grow since many in this list don't transplant well (particularly root crops such as beets, carrots, parsnip, and turnips). Prep planting beds by turning over the soil, adding compost, and removing any rocks. Level the soil, dampen it with water, and either broadcast seeds (for arugula and spinach) or sow one-by-one (peas). Keep soil moist until seeds germinate. All crops below should be grown in full sun.


Fall in the Sunset Test Garden (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

Freshly picked chard, cutting celery, and mustard greens (Tom Story / Sunset Publishing)

Curious on when to harvest? Check out our Vegetable Harvesting Guide.



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