As summer winds down it’s time to start planning ahead and planting seeds for fall vegetable crops like cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, kale, carrots and Brussels sprouts. With lower levels of light, (hopefully) more consistent moisture, cooler nights, and the occasional light frost, cool weather crops can excel during the waning days of summer. With some careful planning, you can keep your garden productive well into fall and even winter. At Fort Collins Nursery we have a number of great fall seed varieties to choose from. Before you get started, it is important to know the following information:
Average First Frost
In Fort Collins, the average first frost date is October 2nd. For those of you in other surrounding areas you can look up your average first frost date through the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Days to Maturity
You will need to calculate when to plant your seeds so they’ll mature before being killed by frost and cold. To find the optimal date, simply subtract the days to maturity from the average first frost date in your region. For example, a vegetable like beets takes 60 days to reach maturity so you would need to plant your seeds around August 3rd based on our October 2nd average first frost. Most seed packs will list information on how many days until the crop reaches maturity. You can also reference vegetable planting guides like this one from CSU Extension. Worried you missed your chance to plant? You can easily extend the growing time by providing frost protection with frost cloths or cold frames.
Certain varieties like broccoli and beans are more susceptible to frost while kale and cabbage are more tolerant. If you’re worried about losing your crops to early frost, you may want to choose from the more cold tolerant crops.
Originally published on July 27th, 2020. Updated on August 1st, 2023.