by Erin Marissa Russell
Ready to get to work in your garden this October but not sure what you could still plant? Although fall may not be the season that stereotypically springs to mind when one thinks of gardening, there are plenty of options for gardeners to plant in October. Check out the list we’ve curated of vegetables, flowers, trees, shrubs, and landscaping plants you can put in the ground this fall, no matter your USDA hardiness zone.
What vegetables can I plant in October?
October is the season for planting cool-weather flowers and vegetables (like root veggies, alliums, leafy greens, salad greens, and artichokes), deciduous trees, shrubs, and roses. For some of the vegetables you can plant now, you’ll need to either start with transplants or have started seeds indoors ahead of time, transplanting them into the garden in October with the cooler weather.
Most of the vegetables won’t be ready to harvest until after the cold season ends, but you can plant many now, and the extra time will help them develop stronger root systems. Chilly temperatures are a signal to plants that they should put energy into developing healthy root systems as quickly as they can. Because the soil isn’t as cold and mucky now as it will be in the spring, your work as a gardener is easier for lots of the tasks that involve digging and moving soil around. Take advantage of these fall gardening benefits when you plant the vegetables we’ve listed below this October.
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria): Arugula can be cultivated in zones three through 11, but gardeners in growing zones eight and higher will have the best luck with fall planting. Plant in spots that get full sun. Grows to 10-12 inches wide by 10-12 inches tall. For continuous harvest, plant every two to three weeks. 45-60 days to harvest.
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) : Zones 4 through 9. Full sun; sandy soil. Asparagus crowns should be used for October planting. Two to three years from planting crown to full production.
Artichoke (Cynara scolymus): Zones 7 to 11 as a perennial; in colder zones, grow artichokes as an annual or overwinter under shelter. Grows to two to three feet wide by three to four feet tall. For October planting, use transplants for early spring harvest. (Leave some on the plant for gorgeous periwinkle blossoms.) 110-150 days to maturity.
Beets (Beta vulgaris): Zones 9 and higher for October planting. Full or part sun; loamy or sandy soil. Plant beets every 20 days for continuous harvest. Grows to two feet tall. 45-65 days to harvest.
Bok Choy (Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis): For October planting, bok choy can survive under cover in growing zones 4-7. Baby bok choy grows up to 10 inches tall; standard bok choy grows to one or two feet tall and up to one foot wide. Prefers partial shade, but can tolerate full sun. 30 days to harvest for baby bok choy; 120-180 days to harvest for standard bok choy. Recommended variety: Black Summer.
Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica): Zones 3 to 10. Full sun; sandy soil. Broccoli grows to two and a half feet tall by eight to 12 inches wide. Use transplants for October planting. 55-80 days to harvest. Recommended varieties: Belstar, Calabrese, Marathon, Purple Sprouting.
Broad Bean/Fava Bean (Vicia faba): Hardy down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Use fleece to protect plants during snowstorms or hard frosts. 240 days to harvest. Recommended bush bean varieties: Longpods, such as Aquadulce Claudia and Coles Early Dwarf.
Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera): Zones 2-9. Full sun; loamy soil. Direct sow Brussels sprouts four months before first frost date, or use transplants or start seeds indoors ahead of time and transplant in October. 80+ days to harvest.
Cabbage Brassica oleracea var. capitata): Zone 1-9. Full sun. Plant spring cabbages in October with direct sow outdoors. In cold snaps, use row covers or cloches to protect plants. 80-180 days to harvest.
Carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus): Zone 3-10. Full sun. For continuous harvest, plant carrots every three weeks. 60-120 days to harvest.
Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis): For October planting, start with transplants. You can grow cauliflower as long as temperatures remain in the 60s (Fahrenheit) as plants mature, or use a cold frame until spring. Plant when temperatures get below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Full sun; shade from heat as needed. Recommended varieties: All the Year Round, Snowball.
Corn Salad/Lamb’s Lettuce (Valerianella locusta): Zones 5 and higher. Harvest two to three leaves daily once plants reach 4 inches tall. 120 days to harvest.
Collard Greens (Brassica oleracea var. acephala): Zones 8 and higher for October planting. Collard green plants can get rather large, so plant in rows at least three feet apart. Full sun; especially hot areas may need to plant in partial shade. 60-75 days to harvest.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus): Zones 4-11. Full sun; loamy soil. 20-36 inches tall by 20-36 inches wide for bush cucumbers; six feet high by two to three feet wide for vine cucumbers. 50-70 days to harvest.
Garlic (Allium sativum): Zones 3-8. Full sun; loamy soil. Up to 3.3 feet tall. 90 days to harvest. Recommended garlic varieties: California Early, Elephant, Inchelium Red, Italian Red, Music, Picardy Wight, Spanish Roja. In areas with milder winters, choose softneck varieties.
Kale (Brassica oleracea var. sabellica): Hardy down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Full sun; loamy soil. Plant kale every three weeks for consistent harvest. Ready for harvest once leaves are hand-sized (55 days from transplanting, 70-80 days from direct sow).
Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes Group): Kohlrabi grows best when the weather stays between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants can tolerate an early fall frost. Harvest once stems grow to two inches wide. 45-60 days to maturity.
Leek (Allium ampeloprasum Leek Group): Zones 7 and up for October planting. Can reach two to three feet high. 120 days to harvest for short-season leeks;170 days to harvest for long-season leeks.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa):Zones 3-9. Select loose-leaf varieties for continuous harvest. Recommended lettuce varieties: Arctic King, Endive, Escarole, Gabriella, Green Ice, Little Gem, Radicchio, Romaine Trio Blend, Winter Gem.
Mustard Greens (Brassica juncea): Zone 8-11 for October planting. Grows to 15-18 inches tall. Harvest can begin at 120 days when leaves are six to eight inches long. Plants reach full maturity at 180 days.
Onion (Allium cepa): Zones 3-9. Full sun. Recommended varieties: For October planting, choose long-day varieties, like Hi Keeper, Troy, or Radar.
Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa): Zones 2-9. Full or partial sun; loamy or sandy soil. Grows to 18-24 inches tall by three to six inches wide. Cover with mulch in the winter. Can stay outdoors for frosts, but harvest before the ground freezes. 480 days to harvest.
Peas (Pisum sativum): Zones 2-9. Plant six to eight weeks before first frost, or use transplants or start seeds indoors and move into the garden in October. Full or partial sun. Protect plants with fleece in times of snow or hard frost. Recommended pea varieties: Avola, Feltham first, Meteor, Oregon Sugar Pod II.
Potato (Solanum tuberosum): Hardy in most growing zones. Plants can reach 20 inches tall. Harvest two to three weeks after foliage has died back. 120-135 days to harvest. Recommended potato varieties: Late-season varieties such as All Blue, Bintje, Butte, Canela Russet, Carola, Desiree, Fingerling Salad, German Butterball, Kennebec, King Harry, Purple Peruvian, Russet Norkotah.
Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus): Zones 3-9. 30 days to harvest. Recommended radish varieties: Butter Globe, French Breakfast, Sparkler.
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum): Zones 6 and cooler. Plant rhubarb crowns in October. Plants grow to three feet wide.
Rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica):Zones 3-9. Full sun; loamy soil. Plants grow to 12-24 inches tall by eight to 12 inches wide. 80-100 days to harvest.
Shallot (Allium cepa): Zones 4-10. Shallots do best in full sun but will tolerate partial sun. Plant two to four weeks before first fall frost, or use transplants or start seeds indoors and move to garden in October. 90-180 days to harvest.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) : Zones 3-9. For continuous harvest, plant every few weeks. Protect plants with fleece. 37-45 days to harvest. Recommended spinach varieties: Bloomsdale, Olympia, Perpetual, Viroflay.
Spring Onion (Allium fistulosum): Zones 5-9. Plants grow to 12-20 inches tall. 240 days to harvest. Sow under cloches for spring harvest. Recommended variety: Performer.
Summer Squash (Cucurbita pepo): Zones 3-10. Squash can grow to 10 inches long, but harvest between four and six inches for tender, tasty fruits. Average 60 days to harvest.
Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris): Zones 3-10. Full or partial sun. Plant 40 days before first frost, or use transplants or start indoors and move to garden in October. 30 day harvest for baby greens; 45-60 day harvest for mature leaves. Recommended Swiss chard varieties: Baby Leaf for mild flavor, Bright Lights for colorful, showy stems.
Turnip (Brassica rapa subsp. rapa): Zones 9-10 for October planting. Harvest any time after plants have reached four inches in height. Turnips are tastiest if harvested when bulbs are two to three inches in diameter, although they will grow larger (and tougher).
With so many vegetables to choose from, there’s no reason to let your garden sit unused in October. And if these options aren’t enough for you, there are ways to grow even more veggies: the ones you usually associate with summer and springtime gardening. To open up your choices, consider using a cold frame (you can build one yourself) or greenhouse. Grow cloth, cloches, or row covers can also be used to buy you more growing time during the colder months.
Want to learn more about planting vegetables in October?
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension covers Fall Vegetable Gardening Guide for Texas
The Old Farmer’s Almanac covers Fall Vegetable Gardening Planning
Brown Thumb Mama covers 8 Vegetables to Plant in October- Zone 9
House & Garden covers What to Plant in October
Los Angeles Times covers October Garden Plan
Sustainable Food Center covers What to Plant in October
Mike Loeb says
Great list of ideas! I had nearly forgotten about arugula and radish.