Don’t Stop Now: Third Season Gardening in Tennessee
The approximate date of the first frost is October 20.
The approximate date of the first hard freeze is November 20.
You may have time for broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower if you can find good plants, or have already started seeds.
Think leafy greens and root crops for your main focus.
Fast maturity, frost tolerance, and overwintering capability are important considerations.
Pre-soak seeds to speed germination, especially carrots, parsley, beets and kale; direct sown seeds will germinate quickly in warm soil.
Some good choices and approximate maturity times are:
arugula – 30-45 days
bak choy – about 40 days
beets – about 60 days, O
carrots – about 60 days, O
chard – about 60 days, O
chervil – about 45 days, O
cilantro – about 30 days, O
cress – about 40 days
kale – about 75 days, O
lettuce – about 60 days
mache – about 60 days
mizuna – about 40 days
mustard – about 40-60 days
parsley – about 70 days, O
scallions – about 60 days, O
spinach—about 50 days
tatsoi – about 45 days
turnips – 30-45 days, O
O = often will overwinter in garden
Using season extending techniques can add up to a month of grow/harvest time.
Grow smaller plants in containers that can be moved indoors at night.
Use spaces where summer annuals grew for additional growing opportunities.
Covering a raised bed with plastic held up by PVC hoops has proven to be one of the cheapest, most effective methods for extending the season.
You can also build a temporary cold frame, using straw bales or concrete blocks and some old window sashes. (Check a window replacement company for these.)
Some Recommended Varieties
These recommendations are based on experience in our Zone 6b garden. All these vegetables can be direct seeded for fall harvest.
arugula – Speedy, Even’Star Winter, Roquette, “wild”
bak choy – Mei Quing
beets – Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Early Wonder Tall Top
carrots – Atlas (containers), Little Finger, Danvers 126
chard – Lucullus, Neon Lights
chervil – Brussels Winter
cilantro – few named cultivars
cress – Belle Isle
kale – Dwarf Blue Curled, Lacinato, Red Russian, Vates
lettuce – Rougette de Montpelier, Tom Thumb, Ashley, Lollo Rossa, Rouge d’Hiver, Forrellenschluss, Freckles, many others
mache – Salad Zing, Vit
mizuna – few named cultivars
mustard – Red Giant
parsley – Moss Curled, Italian
scallions – Evergreen White Bunching
tatsoi –few named cultivars
turnips – Seven Top
You can also plant transplants of these varieties. Garden centers typically have plants ready at the proper time for their location. These vegetables require about six weeks from seed to transplanting size, and so must be started in mid- to late-July for September transplanting. Once they resume growth, they are generally very cold tolerant.
broccoli—Di Cicco, Waltham 29
cabbage—Early Jersey Wakefield, Savoy Perfection
cauliflower—Snowball Self-Blanching (fall planted only)
kohlrabi—Early Purple Vienna
leek—King Sieg, Broad London, American Flag
Perennial onion bulbs are also planted in fall.