What to Plant in October Vegetable Garden

Learn what to plant in October with Homesteaders of America Vegetable Garden Growing Guides!

With October comes cooler temperatures and even the first frost in many areas of the United States of America. This means another gardening season is in the books. We can kick back and enjoy the literal fruits of our labor. If this is depressing and you know you’ll miss getting your hands dirty, never fear, the seed catalogues will start showing up in your mailbox in just a few short weeks. The dream of next year’s garden, with all of its hope and promise, is right around the corner.

Other parts of the country are focused on the fall garden and the changing menu that comes with eating seasonally based on what the harvest brings. While down south the summer gardens may still be churning out the produce and the deepest southern reaches are still busy planting traditional summer crops. (But lest you get jealous Last Frost in April & May folks, don’t worry, you’ve got something on them: you are in that small window of time where late season tomatoes & early fall lettuce crops converge and a homegrown BLT sandwich can realized.)

What to Plant in October: Vegetable Garden Growing Guide

How to Use the Growing Guides

In the Growing Guides, you will learn what to plant each month according to when your last frost date. 

The Growing Guides will be targeted for the continental United States, which also includes some of the warmer areas of our country such as southern extremes Texas and Florida. Their growing season is vastly different from folks living in the northernmost states.

Be sure to follow us on social media, read our newsletter, or check back on the blog for updates throughout the year! 

What to Plant in October Vegetable Garden Growing Guide

Last Frost Date in January

Since your daytime temperatures will begin moderating in a few months, you can keep starting many types of seeds indoors that you will transplant into the garden later this fall.

Start Indoors

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Slow Growing Herbs

Direct Seed

  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn
  • Beans

Last Frost Date in February

If your last frost date is in February here is what to plant in October! Though your summer garden is still doing well, pop a few seeds in the soil so you can add the variety to your diet that the cooler season will bring. If you’re not ready to say good-bye to the goodness the summer garden has brought, it’s not too late to do another round of some vegetables such as summer squash, cucumber, and beans!

Start Indoors

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce

Direct Seed

  • Summer Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Chard
  • Kale

Last Frost Date in March

If you want your summer crops to keep churning out the produce, make sure you stay on top of the harvest. Your plants job is to make seed and if you skip harvesting for a week and the fruit over matures it will signal to the plant that its job is done and will begin to die.

You can start planting your fall garden now, but there are even a few summer crops you might be able to get a small harvest from if you plant now. Some bean & summer squash varieties will be ready to harvest in just 40 days!

Indoors

  • Lettuce
  • Greens
  • Pak Choi

Direct Seed or Transplant

  • Beans
  • Summer Squash
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage (Transplant)
  • Broccoli (Transplant)
  • Kohlrabi (Transplant)
  • Peas

Last Frost Date in April

Want to know what to plant in October if your last frost was in May? The good news is you can still get your greens in the ground and get a harvest before Jack Frost starts nipping. Make plans for season extension and you’ll be able to make the harvest roll in for even longer!

As some of your main crops begin to to die off, be sure to sow cover crop seeds to support your soil life, maintain topsoil, add fertility, and build organic matter. Winter rye is a good choice for overwintering. It can be tilled under in the spring or you can use a solarization tarp to kill it off. Other choices would be a combination of oats & peas or daikon radishes and turnips if you’d like to break up soil compaction. All of those will be killed off over the winter, leaving your garden ready to plant in the spring.

Also, if you didn’t save garlic seed from your harvest this year, make sure you’ve got seed ordered!

Start Indoors and/or Outdoors

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Radish (Outdoors only)
  • Peas (Outdoors only)

Cover Crops

  • Winter Rye
  • Oats & Peas
  • Radishes or Turnips
  • Buckwheat (Double check your last frost date… you’ll need about a 4-5 weeks before frost to get the most out of buckwheat)

Last Frost Date in May

If you’d like to keep your garden going you’ll need to be thinking about which solution you’ll need to extend your season. Remember that every layer of protection will effectively bump you one growing zone south. Some northern gardeners can keep their garden growing almost year-round. Check out Eliot Coleman’s book, The Winter Harvest Handbook, for the best information about how to achieve this.

Indoors

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Claytonia
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Miners Lettuce

Direct Seed

  • Garlic
  • Cover Crops (winter rye may overwinter; radishes & turnips are good for breaking soil compaction)

Last Frost Date in June

Without frost protection, your gardening season is drawing to a close. Try to get as much clean-up and prep work for the spring done now because you never know if a soggy spring will set you back next year.

This is a great time to take a soil sample and submit it for testing. That way you can be sure to have all of your amendments purchased and ready to spread in the spring before planting. Amending your soil ensures that your plants have all the nutrients they need to grow and produce well. And well-nourished plants mean nutrient dense produce for your family’s table. Grow Abundant is an excellent resource & tool to help you learn how to replenish your soils depleted nutrients.

If you didn’t sow cover crops in your garden you can still protect the soil from runoff (while suppressing weeds) with a mulch of leaves, grass clippings, organic straw or weed-free hay.