Chalkboard Plant Stake-Personal Creations On Flikr.com CC BY 2.0
What is a good choice for a fast fall crop?
Actually, your choices are somewhat limited. The days are getting shorter and the intensity of the sun's light is getting weaker. Many of our vegetable plants need more light to produce fruit than the fall provides but there are some vegetables that do well despite the lower light levels. You will also need to plant something that is not killed by the first fall frost. Some crops that can do well in low light conditions and can tolerate some frost are plants in the cole crop family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collards) but for a fall crop transplants should be planted by mid-August. Radishes, rutabagas, and turnips are also a good choice for fall. The final and possibly the best choice for growing in low light conditions are leafy greens like lettuce and spinach.
There are many types of lettuce and most of them grow very well in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We can grow loose leaf types, romaine or cos types, and butterhead or bibb types. The true head lettuce like the iceberg lettuce you see in the stores is harder to grow here. Many people feel the loose leaf and semi-head types like romaine or butterhead have better flavor and are better for you than the iceberg type. I like them all but my favorite is bidd lettuce. The semi-heads are a little smaller than Romaine and the leaves are a little thicker than other lettuces, but the flavor is outstanding.
If you have a problem with wildlife helping them-selves to your garden during the summer, expect it to be the same or even worse in the fall. Since the wild plants have matured there is less young tender foliage for wildlife to feed on. You may need to protect your fall planting from wildlife. I use row cover to keep the critters out. It also helps keep the crop warm during cool fall nights.