The Q&A Archives: Fall-Sown Greens

Question: Is it possible to direct seed vegetable crops like kale, spinach and turnips in the fall, in the hopes of getting an early spring crop? I live in Ohio.

Answer: You can sow them in late summer and early fall for a mid to late fall harvest, but the severity of your winter will determine if the plants survive until spring. In regions with mild winters, seeds of these crops sown in fall will sprout and grow slowly through the winter; then the plants will take off as the weather warms, resulting in early spring harvests. However, in Ohio, I'm afraid the winters would be too severe for consistent results. One option is to use a cold frame, to extend your growing season well into fall, and get an early start next spring.

Some seeds, especially that of perennials adapted to cold regions, do best when sown in fall, because this gives the seed the chilling period they require before they will break dormancy and sprout in the spring. But I don't think the veggies you list fall into this category.

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