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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Fall gardening season has arrived

STILLWATER, Okla. – Even though the temperature is hot and there are still summer vacations on the calendar, it is time to start thinking about planting your fall garden.

Most Oklahoma gardeners are still reaping the rewards of their spring gardens, said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, but it is not too early to plan for fall gardening crops.

“Successful fall gardening begins much earlier than when the weather begins to cool down. High-quality results are available during the fall when warm, sunny days are followed by cool, humid nights,” Hillock said. “Under these climatic conditions, plant soil metabolism is low; therefore, more of the food manufactured by the plant becomes a high-quality vegetable product.”

Climate conditions during the time in which fall gardens are to be planted involve high soil temperature, high light intensity and rapid drying of the soil. This can result in difficulty obtaining a uniform stand of plants.

Hillock said in order to germinate or sprout, the seeds must be viable, have proper temperature, adequate moisture and sufficient oxygen.

“The surface of the soil, when exposed to the summer sun, may become very hot, reaching a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetable seeds should be planted no deeper than three times the diameter of the seed,” he said. “With small seed such as carrot, this would be no more than 1/4 inch deep. At this depth and exposed in the hot soil, death of the seed due to high temperature would probably occur. It’s also likely that such a soil, even when watered, might dry out quickly because of the high temperature. Unless the soil remains moist at the depth where the seeds have been planted, germination will not take place.”

In order to achieve proper temperature and adequate moisture, apply mulch over the row following planting and watering or use materials such as screen wire strips, shade cloth or boards to cover the row.  This will moderate both soil temperature and soil moisture. Remove covers after the seedling emerges.

Hillock said broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, leaf lettuce, Brussels sprouts and cabbage do well by planting seeds in a small seed flat, setting them in individual containers to grow for about a month, then transplanting to the garden.

“Prior to setting them in the garden, transplants may be conditioned or toughened by a reduction in the amount of water supplied and by exposure to full sunlight,” he said. “This might require three to five days. Plant them in the garden in late afternoon to early evening to reduce transplanting shock.”

Some fall vegetables, such as cowpeas, pole beans, cilantro, sweet corn, eggplant, peppers, pumpkin, squash and tomatoes can be planted as early as mid- to late-July. Other crops such as cucumbers and lima beans should be planted in mid-August.

For more in-depth information about fall gardening, check out OSU Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet HLA-6009 at and key in fall gardening in the search tool.


Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
136 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078