Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Fall Carrots and Peas

by Charlie Nardozzi

With the turning of the calendar to September, most gardeners begin to think of wrapping up the gardening season. However, for industrious gardeners there is still time to plant a number of veggies to harvest before the final freeze. While northern gardeners may be limited to planting lettuce, arugula, radishes, and spinach in September, Southern and Western gardeners in areas where frost isn't expected until November or December have the luxury of being able to plant a wider array of vegetables.

Fall carrots and peas are two crops to plant now in warmer regions for a fall harvest. Both crops will mature in a few months after planting, they will tolerate a light frost and thrive during the cool, and hopefully moist but not too wet, fall. Both crops can be harvested while still immature to yield some tasty vegetables if the temperatures dip earlier than expected.

If you live in a mild winter climate, you can also try growing overwintering varieties of carrots that are planted in fall for harvesting the following spring.

Here's how to grow crops of carrots and peas this fall in your garden.

Carrot and Pea Varieties

Choose carrot and pea varieties that grow quickly to insure they are a mature size before the days grow too short and temperatures grow too cold for further growth. Here are some good carrot varieties to try.

'Red Cored Chantenay' - Maturing 68 days after seeding, this 6-inch-long blocky carrot is adaptible to many soil types.

'Primo' - This very early Nantes-type carrot matures 60 days from seeding and colors up early so it's good harvested as a baby carrot.

'Little Finger' - This midget variety produces 3- to 4-inch-long roots that color up quickly and mature 65 days after seeding.

'Merida' - This 7-inch-long Nantes-type carrot can be planted in fall for a spring harvest. It is slow to bolt in spring.

For fall peas, it's best to select varieties with flat pods or early maturing edible-pods. Even if the peas don't completely form before a killing freeze, the pods that are already developed are still edible. Some good pea varieties to grow in fall include the following.

'Early Snap' - This 'Sugar Snap' pea produce pods in less than 60 days from seeding. Vines grow 2 to 3 feet tall.

'Mammoth Melting Sugar' - This 4-inch-long, flat-podded snow pea is productive and early, maturing within 70 days.Vines grow 5 feet tall and need trellising.

'Alaska' - This smooth-seeded variety is mostly grown for its seeds that are good in soups and for canning, but since it matures in 56 days, it is a good one to try for fall. Vines grow 3 feet tall.

'Dwarf Gray Sugar Pod' - This heirloom produces flat-podded snow peas 60 days after seeding on 3-foot-tall plants.

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