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Too Late to Start a Garden? Think Again!

Planting late in the season offers many advantages in North Dakota, and you have a variety of vegetables from which to choose.

Have you found yourself midplanting season and have no garden planted, or have you harvested some of your vegetables and are looking to plant more? You’re in luck because you have time to do so!

Planting late in the season offers many advantages in North Dakota, and you have a variety of vegetables from which to choose.

Fargo is in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) growing zone 4a, which has a shorter growing season than most other USDA growing zones. However, vegetables such as beets, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens and squash have longer or two growing seasons, usually spring and fall.

Advantages to Late-season Growing

Planting vegetables late in the season has advantages. In fact, some of these vegetables end up tasting better late in the season after the first frost. For example, the warm summer soil helps promote rapid germination as long as the top layer of the soil remains moist.

Applying a thin layer of grass clippings or mulch on the top layer of soil over your sown seeds can help retain moisture and further expedite the rapid germination. You also might have less weeding to do. At this point in the season, most of the weeds already have seeded and are dormant, which means less weeding may be required.

Where and How to Plant Your Chosen Seeds

When planting your late-season garden, you can sow your seeds directly in your garden bed or plant them indoors, then transplant the seedlings outdoors. However, sowing them directly in your garden bed will allow your seeds to take advantage of the rapid germination that occurs during the summer.

Vegetables to Choose for Midwest Growing

When choosing seeds to plant late in the season, here are a few vegetable varieties that a North Dakota State University team of gardeners tested. The gardeners found these seeds performed best in the Midwest:

  • Beets: Avalanche, Detroit Dark Red and Red Ace
  • Carrots: Bolero, Caracas and Goldfinger
  • Broccoli: Packman
  • Leaf Lettuce: Bergam’s Green, Deer Tongue and New Red Fire
  • Romaine lettuce: Crisp Mint, Fusion and Green Forest
  • Squash (crookneck and zucchini): Sundance crookneck squash, and Green Tier, Easypick Gold and Fortune zucchini

If you have concerns about your vegetable choice and whether it’s appropriate for late-season growing, see the back of your seed packet. The seed packet generally provides pertinent information about the vegetable to assure your planting experience is successful. This information includes:

  • USDA growing zone
  • How long the vegetable takes to reach maturation
  • Sun requirements
  • Height of the vegetable plant
  • Planting seasons
  • Sowing method
  • Sowing time


As we are approaching the late planting season, don’t let this deter you from starting your garden because we have many vegetables to plant and grow in time to enjoy as the harvest season approaches.

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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