Fall Gardening: Tender vs. Semi-hardy Vegetables


This is Part III in a series on fall gardening.  Part I can be read here and Part II can be read here.

In planning your fall garden you will find that most crops are divided into two categories: tender vegetables and semi hardy.

Tender vegetables refer to those that are not conducive to cooler temperatures and need to be harvested before frost.  In the summer garden these would be referred to as the warm weather crops.  Depending on your area, and the severity of your summer, if these were planted in your summer garden they may still be chugging along and will continue to produce until the end of the season.  However, if you had an extremely hot summer, or if you lost some of these crops to pests, these can be planted again for a second go at it.  Tender vegetables include:  beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, summer squash, and tomatoes.

Semi-hardy vegetables refer to those crops that can tolerate the cooler temperatures and will continue to grow and be harvested after several frosts.  In the summer garden, these would be referred to as the cool weather crops and are often those that are planted in very early spring.  Semi-hardy vegetables include beets, Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and many others.  If given protection from the elements, some of these will produce, or can at least be stored in the garden through the winter depending on your zone and the location of your garden.

Why this information is important:

Knowing which category your plants fall in will help you plan ahead and properly time the planting of your garden.   Because tender vegetable crops are so susceptible to frost, many of them need to be started enough in advance to allow for a harvest.  In my zone, fall tomatoes are planted around the Fourth of July.  While semi-hardy vegetables on the other hand can be set out much later, some as late as October, I have found that they do still need some time to mature before the cold weather sets in. These crops are tolerant of frost, yes;  but their growth rate slows down and they won’t produce as rapidly as they do in warmer weather.

What if I am getting a late start?

My advice: try a few things anyway.  The worst that could happen is that you may not get as large a harvest as you would have if you had started earlier.  At best you will still have a small crop, you will learn from your experience, and will be that much more prepared for the next growing season.

Next week we’ll talk about the difference between heirloom and hybrid vegetables.


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Fall Gardening: Tender vs. Semi-hardy Vegetables — 10 Comments

    • I love to grow lettuce!!! I have several different varieties because it is so easy to grow and looks so pretty in the garden. Good luck with yours. I need to get mine out there but it is still to warm yet. :x 114 today.

  1. Oh I so love the look of your crops I am afraid I have given up for this year hopefully next year will be better. I love your boots. B

    • Thank you. :) My husband gave them to me as a “graduation gift” when I completed my Master Gardener Certification.

  2. Great information and your veggies look amazing. Thanks so much for sharing at Rural Thursday this week. xo

  3. Jenny I did not realize that you were a Master Gardener I have always wanted to do that program maybe one of these days when my son is done with football ;)….I love your boots too and was going to mention that I have a similar pair we have to wear them in the school system because you never know when you are going to be with students in the rain ever……I am really truly enjoying your blog…I so appreciate the backlinks and will try to be mindful to extend the kindness in return. Oh and thank you sooooo much for linking up to “The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post” blog hop!

    • I have really, really enjoyed being a part of the Master Gardener program. Initially I went for the certification because I wanted the info, but the volunteer work has been very gratifying. I help answer the hotline once a month, and work with little ones in the school program. It has been very rewarding and a great community ~ I highly recommend it when you are able to do it. Thanks so much for reading! I have your blog loaded up in my google reader and really enjoyed your post on the end tables. We’ve gathered much of our furniture in the same way. Have a great weekend!

  4. Pingback: Your Questions About Vegetable Gardening In Oregon - How to Vegetable Garden · How to Vegetable Garden

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