According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac data, on average, Nashville’s first frost date will occur around October 26th, 2022. THIS IS EXCITING as that means not only is there time left to direct-sow certain warm weather veggies such as beans, corn, cucumbers, squashes, and melons, it is time to direct-sow lettuces, chard, and spinach. Warm soil is key to good germination, so planting in August’s warm (read HOT) soil will have your seeds popping in no time!
That said, as Nashville is REALLY WARM at this time, I suggest that it may be best to start some cool weather crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage indoors and then transplant them. Also, go ahead and direct-sow your root veggies (beets, carrots, etc.) and your peas as they do not like to be transplanted.
BUT WAIT. What do you do if you are ready to plant a Fall Garden and don’t know when to start?
Here are some calculating tips
- STEP ONE: Find your area’s frost dates here.
- STEP TWO: Look on the back of your seed packet for the “maturity date” of the crop you want to grow. The maturity date is the amount of time your plant needs to grow from seed to harvest. (For seeds sown directly in the ground, that means from seeding to maturity. For seeds started inside, the days start from the time of transplanting outside.) Count back this number of days from the frost date. NOTE- As plants grow more slowly in the cooler, shorter Fall days, you may wish to add another week or so.
- STEP THREE: Add the length of the expected harvest period and you have your date!
- NOTE: If that was too much math, use this site. Use your frost date as the start date and subtract the days to maturity and estimated harvest time. So, if your squash seeds take 60 days to maturity, and you expect to harvest for a few weeks, that is around 80 days.
Of course, there are MYRIAD free planting charts, guides, and resources available on the internet and in library books.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Gardeningknowhow.com has an excellent Fall Planting guide for Zone 7a. You can find it here.
- Gardenate.com provides a free planting guide based on your zone. Check it out by clicking here.
- The Farmer’s Almanac offers a plethora of amazing guides and materials!