My Oklahoma fall vegetable garden

Swiss chard and red fountain early last spring. My Oklahoma fall vegetable garden.
Swiss chard and red fountain early last spring

Fall and winter vegetable gardening in Oklahoma is tricky, and anyone who tells you different is wrong or misleading. I don’t know which.

While others north of us were sowing seeds in July and August to reap a fall harvest, we were still at 103F. Oh, wait . . . we’re still at 104F today on September 3. Traditionally, August was a good time to sow fall seeds, but in the last couple of years, not so much. I’m putting in seeds for late fall crops next week, and I’m putting row covers over them as soon as the weather cools. Even though temperatures are high, I’ve been watching the forecast, and temperatures will come down. If I wanted fall lettuce instead of in winter, I needed to sow the seeds indoors under lights. I just didn’t feel like it, and that’s okay.

If you want, you can start seeds indoors. I don't think I will for fall and winter this year.
If you want, you can start seeds indoors. I don’t think I will for fall and winter this year.

So, here’s what I’m going to plant next week in my Oklahoma fall vegetable garden. I ordered all of my seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because I like them. Nice people saving seed for southern gardens, and no one has ever paid me a dime to say that.
Winter Bloomsdale SPINACH 5 g (67103)
Savoy Perfection CABBAGE 2 g (22107)
Bull’s Blood Beet 5g (31106)
White Egg TURNIP 3 g (29103)
Perennial Onion Sampler Mix (92505)
Asiatic and Turban Garlic Sampler (92506)
Drunken Woman LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF 0.5 g (62801)
Black-Seeded Simpson LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF 0.5 g (62102)
Susan’s Red Bibb LETTUCE, BIBB (BUTTERHEAD) 0.5 g (62306)
Capitan LETTUCE, BIBB (BUTTERHEAD) 0.5 g (62303)
Lutz Winter Keeper BEET 5 g (31109)

I’m very sad Horn’s Seed Co. is going out of business after their fire. It was the best place locally to get good seed in bulk. We are now down another local nursery. Someone in the city needs to create a new business model and offer unique plants along with working with younger, urban gardeners who love vegetables. Make gardening hip again. Okay, I’m off my soap box and back in the garden bed.

These are the tunnels from the Chesapeake employee vegetable garden. I was impressed by their sturdiness, and that they were using them for shade too.
These are the tunnels from the Chesapeake employee vegetable garden. I was impressed by their sturdiness, and that they were using them for shade too.

I’ll sow the lettuce and spinach. With row covers I hope to get a good crop. I’ll probably see if I can buy cabbage seedlings at Farmer’s Grain in Edmond. They have them in the spring, but because people in Oklahoma don’t think about fall and winter gardening much, they may not have any seedlings this year. I could still start some, but I’d be very behind.

Just remember to use row covers after the weather starts to get colder–if it does. I like the durability of this Garden Tunnel 10′ Guard Poly Row Cover Harvest, and I have the JWALT TunLcover Superior Plant Protector, 2-Pack 18 Foot Size. I bought it for spring, but didn’t need to use it because spring was picture perfect, and we didn’t have a late freeze.

Our changeable weather makes it very challenging to garden here anytime, but winter can be especially tricky. Some years, we have harsh and terrible winters with record breaking snowfall. Others are like no winter at all.

I’ll keep you apprised on how things go.

Great vegetable bed at the Chesapeake employee garden that was part of the Oklahoma Garden Tour for Connoisseurs in 2011. It will again be on tour this year. You shouldn't miss it.
Great vegetable bed at the Chesapeake employee garden that was part of the Oklahoma Garden Tour for Connoisseurs in 2011. It will again be on tour this year. You shouldn’t miss it.

One more thing, before you plant, feed your soil with some type of organic mulch or fertilizer to help your plants get off to a good start. You probably grew spring and summer vegetables in this space, and the soil is now depleted of nutrients. Most vegetables are annuals, and they use a lot of nutrients. If you watered from a well, you may notice a crust has formed on top of the soil from hard water. Break it up a bit and use Back to Nature with alfalfa for the nitrogen boost. We have two months of warm weather yet, and your plants need a good start. You can get Back to Nature with alfalfa at Farmer’s Grain in Edmond and other local retailers.

Let’s try planting a fall/winter vegetable garden and see what happens. It’s gotta be easier than summer gardens. If you do, I want to suggest The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Your Own Food 365 Days a Year, No Matter Where You Live by Nikki Jabour. Her vegetable planting and harvest timetable is different from ours because she lives in Nova Scotia, she has wonderful ideas on structures and planting styles to extend the season.

It’s all big experiment, and I’m ready to give it a try. How about you?



  1. greggo says:

    I’m happy for you that you still have some energy left after this summer. whew!

  2. Layanee says:

    Swiss chard looks great….HAPPY BIRTHDAY ON THE 7TH.

  3. Deanne says:

    Wonderful veggie gardens, so wish our season was longer but it is what it is here in Zone 5.

    I hear birthday greetings are in order so a very happy one to you!

  4. Yours truly, Melissa says:

    How exciting! I definitely want to plant a fall garden… It’s been so hot that I cant even imagine it… But I think I’d better get started. 🙂

  5. I could write a similar post – it’s just been too hot here as well to get out there and plant! I finally just cleared out everything and planted my fall garden over Labor Day weekend. It was rather a shame to pull out all the cherry tomato plants that were still going strong, though. We planted green beans, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, and three different types of carrots (my kids helped pick out the seeds). I’m excited as this will be my first fall veggie garden!

  6. commonweeder says:

    My chard is still growing, also tomatoes. And winter squash is still ripening, but for the first time I have a fall crop of lettuces and mesclun almost ready to pick. This year I have also planted one bed to winter wheat (which I hope to use for bread next year, just like the Little Red Hen) and green manure. In another month I’ll be out there planting my garlic. Lots of fall planting, even here in Massachusetts.

  7. Thanks for the list – I was wondering if I should plant my lettuce, beets and spinach in the heat. I decided to wait as well!

  8. val says:

    I like fall gardening the best by far. In spring I struggle to get the timing right before it heats up, and in summer there are so many bugs and diseases to deal with–not to mention the heat! Also, since farmers’ markets in my area are so well-stocked in summer, it makes little sense to kill myself trying to get a good crop, whereas in winter not a lot of local farmers are doing the all-season thing–and I’m craving fresh greens and roots. Not that I’ll be giving up on summer, but suffice to say I am happy for fall’s arrival. I have planted some lettuce, radishes, and carrots, will seed beets and turnips soon, just planted Brussels Sprouts seedlings, and I have arugula self sowing everywhere. Many Asian greens to come, plus spinach and fava beans, and even though I’ve waited too late, I’ll try a fast growing broccoli and cauliflower and make a much too late sowing of parsnips.
    I use row cover as well as some nifty plastic greenhouse covers (,default,pd.html?start=6&cgid=VegetableGardening_SeasonExtending).

  9. I love hearing about how others plant their veg gardens and when..I did plant seeds a couple of weeks ago to get some fall harvest…we shall see as the weather is tricky here…right now it is still hooter than normal and too dry

  10. Nice that you used Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. It was nice to meet Ira at the Fling. I like your comment ‘if it gets cooler’ …..have patience, we both know OK can be pretty brutal come January and February or not. I am glad you are starting your fall/winter garden. We patronize our local farmer to get our produce. I miss having a veggie garden, but don’t miss tidal flooding. Have thought about some window boxes kale….. maybe.

  11. Keep that optimism! Always have to try. I put in radishes, some lettuce and kohlrabis. So far, they look decent. Hoping for the cooler temperatures. The shade covers that can be frost protectors are a great idea. I need to find a way to do that which won’t blow away here.

  12. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Drunken woman…lettuce. I thought you were talking about me. tee hee… Really I admire your veggie quest. I just don’t do this for some reason. I should because I love veggies. I must be lazy. Yep that’s it. I will look forward to seeing how your fall veggies get along with this horrid torrid weather.

  13. Kathryn/ says:

    Hi, Dee. I know you had such a tough summer so it must be doubly hard to find the inspiration to dig into the winter garden, though hopefully rains will give you the reprieve you are so needing. Good to remind everyone to replenish the soil before venturing forth. Blessings on your winter garden, my dear. xoxo

  14. CurtissAnn says:

    Honey, thanks for your encouragement. Maybe I will order seeds. I am so very sorry to hear about Horn Seed Company’s demise. Jim and I were just speaking of them the other day, of the great time we had going to the old store years ago, when we were avid gardeners. Life moves on. It occurs to me that your last line is a good attitude to live by. Life itself is a big experiment. Love you.

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