As we reach the mid-point of summer, it is 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, more consistent moisture, and the occasional light frost, cool weather crops can excel well into the waning days of fall. 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 seed varieties from great companies like Botanical Interests, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., Renee’s Garden Seed, and Seed Savers Exchange. 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
To find out the best dates to plant your seeds, you will need to calculate when to plant your vegetables 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, for a vegetable like beets that take 60 days to reach maturity, you would need to plant your seeds between 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. A quick Google search will also yield several examples of vegetable planting guides for our region like this one from the National Gardening Association.
Certain varieties like broccoli, beans and winter squash are more susceptible to frost while kale and cabbage are more tolerant. If you’re worried about losing your crops to premature frost, you may want to choose from the more cold tolerant crops.
Originally published on August 2nd, 2016. Updated on July 28th, 2020.