I used to do a combined spring, summer, and fall seed starting & planting schedule (see Making a Seed Starting & Planting Schedule), but this year I wanted to start concentrating on extending the gardening season into the fall longer – so this is my first fall only planting schedule. But wow – it seems like the garden just went in – yet it’s already getting late for starting and planting crops for fall! I need this kind of schedule to keep me on track for what needs to be started indoors and seeded outdoors; otherwise I let the dates slip until it’s too late for fall planting.
The template for this Excel spreadsheet schedule can be downloaded here; and can be modified for different hardiness zones as needed. This one has been created for Zone 5B and assumes that the first fall frost will occur around October 15. The starting dates for the vegetables (which are all crops that tolerate frosts and taste better after cooler weather) are based on growing the veggies outdoors without any additional protection. To modify the schedule for other hardiness zones, simply move the first fall frost date to what’s appropriate for your zone, and then move the Starting Indoors (SI) and Last Planting (LP) dates the same number of weeks either left or right, as appropriate. On the dates for starting things indoors, I’ve assumed four weeks for getting the transplants going in all cases – note that may be aggessive for some. I’ve got a new lighting system for starting transplants that’s really been getting things going super quick.
I’m hoping to get a low tunnel in over part of the garden this fall, and if that happens, things in the low tunnel can be planted two to three weeks later than the LP dates shown below. It’d be even better if I had a high tunnel with additional hoops inside, I could extend 4 – 5 weeks out, but it’s not likely I’ll get a high tunnel any time soon. Anyway, with schedules like this, it’s important to keep notes and adjust the schedule yearly based on the varieties grown and microclimate for each garden. Then the schedule becomes specific to one individual garden and can become very accurate over time. My schedule for spring planting this year, for example (see Making 2011’s Seed Starting & Planting Schedule) got pushed out several weeks into the summer because it rained the entire month of May – so I’ll need to take that possibility into account when planning next year’s spring schedule.
The garden is doing well so far this year, and just going through the process of creating this schedule has made me hungry for, and optimistic about the fall garden! It’s all so beautiful and yummy tasting in my imagingation.