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Seeds – Cool season plants including cilantro, spinach, lettuce, arugula, cabbage family can often produce a crop before cool weather pauses their growing. Whatever you aren’t able to harvest may continue growing in spring. In my zone 6 landscape I have planted spinach which only grew 1″ tall but continued growing for harvesting the next spring. Wildflower seeds are also great options for fall planting. Buy from reputable sources and if you want to save the seeds from your plants be sure to purchase non hybrids (open-pollinated or heirloom). I do not recommend buying seeds on Amazon or EBay due to the fake seeds on both sites.
Things to consider before deciding what to plant: Will you or members of your household eat it? Will the variety be ready to harvest in time? (In my area Average Frost Date about Oct 5). Days to harvest listed on seed pack- Plant may not need to be full size to be edible – spinach, lettuce, arugula. If not, will it survive the winter and grow again in the spring? Peas – unlikely – If the plant does not produce what you planned is there still an edible part? Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, all have edible leaves even if they don’t form a head or buds
Perennials, shrubs, and trees can almost always be planted in the fall. Sometimes the variety you want may be harder to find but what you do find my be on sale. Be sure your plants are watered when planting and water over winter if nature does not water for you.
Saffron – if you are zone 6 or warmer (zones 7, 8, etc) you may be able to grow saffron in your area. I sell saffron every fall at my store Basil & Rose in Bountiful. Fall is the time to plant and fall is the season of bloom. Saffron may not bloom the year of planting but it will the next and every year there after.
Garlic – in many areas garlic is best planted in the fall and harvested the following Summer. I sell several varieties of soft and hard next garlics and Basil & Rose every fall. Softneck stores better after harvest. Hardneck form edible scapes (the flower stock that should be removed). Be sure to purchase varieties that will grow well in your climate.
Spring flowering bulbs including tulips, daffodils, spring flowering crocus, and Iris reticulata.