Ideas & Inspiration
What Vegetables to Plant in the Fall
From leafy greens to cauliflower, come mid-summer, it’s time to think about what veggies to plant in your fall garden. Cool-season veggies tolerate a light frost, thrive in short daylight hours, and taste best when temperatures fall.
Many fall vegetables can be started as seedlings rather than sown directly in the ground. Simply plug veggie seedlings into open spaces in the late summer garden — they will benefit from the shade of summer crops while the weather is still hot — and watch them grow. When cool weather turns to frost, extend the season even longer with row covers.
When daytime temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, cut summer crops back to the ground to let fall veggies receive full sun. Check out these favorites for fall veggie gardening.
Sprouts love cool temps and will be at their sweetest in light frosty weather. These plants need room to grow. Follow the spacing recommendation on the plant label. They should be about 18 to 24 inches apart in a raised garden bed. Brussels sprouts seedlings take about 80 days to mature.
Give broccoli lots of sun, at least six hours a day, and rich soil. Before planting seedlings, amend soil with organic compost and feed regularly all season long. Broccoli grown from seed will mature in 100 to 150 days, so you'll probably want to plant seedlings. The broccoli buds will be ready to harvest in 55 to 80 days from the time time they're placed in your garden.
From seed or seedling, seasoned gardeners know that the most tender and freshest tasting lettuce and spinach come from your own garden.
Greens, fall’s hardiest vegetables, can be harvested in just over a month. Thin crowded plants and pick often. Most greens survive winter when covered, and will return again in early spring. Try lettuce, kale, chard and collards.
A candidate from the herb garden, parsley makes a fine addition to a fall vegetable garden. The plant grows about a foot high and can survive light frosts in mild climates. Flat leaf varieties are grown for their culinary use. Consider, too, the curly varieties. They grow into emerald mounds perfect for edging a vegetable garden, and the leaves are just as tasty in your culinary creations. Plant seedlings for instant impact in your garden, and use in your kitchen.
If you have seven weeks before the first frost date in your area, then you have time to grow at least one crop of radishes from seed. They can handle frosts, too. Give radishes plenty of sun and water. Sow in succession (for instance, once a week) for a steady supply of crispy, crunchy salad radishes.
Carrots are easy to grow and tolerate light frost. The fastest-growing varieties will mature in about 60 days, and the longer-growing selections take just 80 days from seed 'til harvest. If temperatures turn cold early, baby carrots can be harvested and enjoyed even if they’re not fully mature.
How to Plant Carrots:
- Prepare a bed for carrots by using a digging fork to cultivate the soil 12 inches deep. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the surface along with a light application of a balanced organic vegetable fertilizer, and dig through the bed again. Rake out any rocks or roots, and thoroughly water the bed.
- Wait until rain is predicted to plant carrots. The night before planting seeds, place them in a strainer and rinse with lukewarm water. Spread wet seeds on a paper towel and place in an airtight container. The next day, shake the seeds onto a dry paper towel and allow them to air-dry for about an hour.
- Make a quarter-inch deep planting trench for your carrot seeds in the prepared garden bed. Carrots are easiest to maintain when planted in double or triple rows, spaced 8 inches apart. Drop seeds an inch apart into the row and cover with loose soil. Gently pat in place. Water thoroughly but gently.
- Cover new planting with a sheet, folded in half, or a double thickness of garden row cover to maintain soil moisture.
- Water as needed to keep the soil lightly moist, at least once a day in dry weather.
- Thin carrot seedlings to 3 inches apart about a month after planting.
Appropriately named, snow peas grow best in cool temperatures. They like moist soil, so water regularly. Choose seedlings of early varieties such as ‘Short N’ Sweet’ or ‘Dwarf White Sugar.’ Harvest when the pods are a few inches long with peas that aren’t fully developed. Snow peas mature in 50 to 75 days depending on variety.
Raised beds are ideal for growing vegetables, especially in the fall, because the bed retains warmth. Keep in mind that vegetables grow well in patio containers, too. As you pull spent annuals (and tomato plants) out of summer containers, sow fall vegetable seeds and seedlings. Bok choy, for example, loves short days, cool weather and rain, and can handle a late frost.