Green Garden Dreams

The Joy of San Diego Vegetable Gardening

Fall Vegetables for San Diego

Fall in San Diego begins subtly. It’s not a dramatic burst of color like in the East Coast or other temperate climes, but rather a shifting in light and temperature – how it feels outside. That’s how it strikes me as a native. I always know when it’s Fall.

Click here to jump to the Vegetable Planting Schedule for Southern California!

Bok Choy

Bok Choy (volunteer)

August, September and October is a time when you can start to dream about what you want to plant for the Fall and Winter season , and put some seeds in pots or directly in your garden.

Here in San Diego with our mild Mediterranean climate, we are blessed with all-year-around growing. Fall is our “second spring” as far as planting goes. And when the rains come in early winter the local grasses and native plants will start to green up the golden areas of summer.

Now that the season is changing to progressively cooler, shorter days and less intense sunlight, we transition to cool-weather crops. Warm weather crops like corn, tomatoes and squash – plants that develop fruits that we eat – require long warm days and a long growing season. Cool season crops are generally plants where we eat the leaves, stems, roots or immature flowering parts, such as lettuce, kohlrabi, carrots, broccoli and so forth.

It’s a good idea to take this opportunity to add to your soil: spade it and work in some organic matter. It’s been depleted from the summer’s growing. Add some compost and/or manure, and ideally a balanced organic vegetable fertilizer to it (the fertilizer helps to compensate for the mulch that hasn’t broken down into nutrients yet). Water your plot  and let the soil settle for a couple of days; then sow your seeds. Water them gently: most winter crop seeds are small, should be planted at a shallow depth, and can wash away easily.

Planting Period Key

Optimal - Fruiting type (mostly summer vegs.)
Acceptable - (mostly summer vegs.)
Optimal - Greens type (mostly Fall/Winter vegs.)
Acceptable - Greens type (mostly Fall/Winter vegs.)
Optimal - Root type (mostly Fall/Winter vegs.)
Acceptable - Root type (mostly Fall/Winter vegs.)
The key on the right will help you interpret the vegetable planting guide table below.
The general pattern of summer veggies is that they are warmth-loving plants, grow quickly, and yield fruit of some type. Obvious examples are tomatoes (which I used as the key icon for summer types), corn, beans, squash, cantaloupes, etc. In contrast, most Fall and Winter vegetables are ones that you grow for their leaves or roots, such as lettuce, cabbage-family veggies, mustard greens, and root crops like turnips and rutabagas.

Of course there are exceptions to the “rule” for summer fruiting crops, such as Fava Beans (Broad Beans), which prefer cooler temperatures. Some leaf or root crops can be grown any time in Southern California, such as Swiss Chard and Carrots.

Southern California Vegetable Planting Schedule

 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Asparagus
Beans (bush)
Beans (pole)
Beets
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chives
Collards
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Endive
Fava Beans
Garlic
Jicama
Kale
Kohlrabi
Leeks
Lettuce
Lima Beans
Mustard
Okra
Onions
Parsley
Parsnip
Peas
Peppers
Potatoes
Pumpkin
Radish
Rutabaga
Spinach
Squash (summer)
Squash (winter)
Sunflowers
Swiss Chard
Tomatoes
Turnips
Watermelon
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

That should be plenty to choose from!

If you’re curious about Fava Beans: “In mild-winter regions sow broad beans in early autumn for winter harvest (from Harvest to Table website).”:  How to Grow Broad Beans

And if you don’t want to plant veggies and just want to over-winter your plot, consider doing a favor to the soil and plant “green manure” such as alfalfa or Fava Beans. This will contribute nitrogen and help the soil community.

MORE ABOUT TYPES OF FALL VEGETABLES – A MINI-GUIDE (a work in progress)

Rutabagas

Rutabaga, nadmorska variety

Rutabaga, nadmorska variety

Links:
Fava Beans:
http://ucanr.edu/sites/scmg/The_Kitchen_Garden/Feature_Vegetables/Fava_Beans/

Fall can be a 2nd spring for planting” (Union Tribune Newspaper, October 22, 2006)

*Here’s a table from digitalseed.com for Southern California with a slightly shifted schedule (October instead of September for most things)

Vegetable Garden Planting Guide For San Diego County” – Master Gardeners San Diego  / U.C. Cooperative Extension (PDF file).

Veggie Gardening in the Fall? – San Diego’s Unique Growing Season
http://greenlifestudios.com/blog/2011/home-owners-greenlifestudios/veggie-gardening-in-the-fall-san-diegos-unique-growing-season

“Veggie Gardening in the Fall? – San Diego’s Unique Growing Season”
http://greenlifestudios.com/blog/2011/home-owners-greenlifestudios/veggie-gardening-in-the-fall-san-diegos-unique-growing-season

* From a flier from Walter Andersen Nursery.

  • Raquel Rudder

    September 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Reply

    Eric,
    This was very helpful to me. I HAVE been wondering what I can plant right now but hadn’t found the time to do the research. Thanks for doing it for me!
    Raquel

    • eric

      September 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Reply

      You’re welcome! Glad you found it useful.
      I’m looking forward to pulling out the old plants, amending the soil, and starting some new (Fall) vegetable growing adventures from seed.

  • Gina nute

    September 24, 2019 at 8:10 am | Reply

    I this is. Gina Nute I will go ahead and clean out Miss McKowns Box prior to October 13 we will not be in town that day. I am so excited to be a part of this I have already started sprouting from seed organic broccoli carrots and cauliflower. Let’s see how that goes .

  • Eric Platt

    September 24, 2019 at 10:35 am | Reply

    Hi Gina – I no longer am involved in the Golden Hill Community Garden. You’ll want to email them directly.

    Thanks,
    Eric

  • Diana Chanove

    September 28, 2020 at 10:31 am | Reply

    First time growing a kitchen garden would appreciate any valuable information for a successful outcome. I know i need to plant fall veggies and looking to start right away. My veggie beds are ready had special dirt delivered this weekend and filled my garden boxed and mixed and filled and compounded the dirt very well as well as watered it to help bring the soil down to get rid of any air pockets. Appreciate you help and advise. Thank you

  • Eric Platt

    September 28, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Reply

    Hi Diana – Are you in San Diego?

    If so, there’s no rush, really. We still have warm weather potential even in October, so seeds and plants for Fall veggies planted now could suffer if we get Santa Ana conditions, or a high pressure heat wave, like we have right now (September 28, 32020). No harm in planning however…
    So let me ask you this: from the list of potential Fall vegetables, what would you eat and what would be fun to grow?

    For myself, I’m going to be planting Fava Beans and Giant Red Leaf Mustard very soon… and some green onions…

    By the way, I now live in Vista. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Eric

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