20 Cool-Weather Vegetables for Your Fall Garden

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Summer is the time when you need to pick and plan your cool-weather vegetables for your fall garden.

A fall garden really starts in the summer. You have to decide which cool-weather vegetables you want to grow, and many need to be started inside and transferred outside later.

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I’m not meant for the heat, and as the air starts to get a tad cooler, I find myself wanting to spend more time in the garden. I don’t roast in the fall like I do in the summer.

Too many people think that, when summer winds down, their garden has to end as well. Nothing could be further from the truth!

You can grow vegetables all the way up until your Persephone Days, when is the time when you have fewer than 10 hours of sunlight. For me, in Ohio, that doesn’t happen until November!

So many cool-weather crops grow well in a fall garden. Keep reading to find out my favorite choices.

20 Cool-Weather Vegetables for Your Fall Garden

1. Carrots

My favorite fall crop is carrots. I just love carrots in the fall; they’re delicious when added to hearty stews, roasted in veggie medleys, or cooked with roast and potatoes.

Yum!

So, it’s an important task for me to grow a second round of carrots in the fall for additional harvest.

Carrots are planted during the late summer for a fall harvest. They shoot up quickly and grow until the temperatures dip. They can survive few light touches of frost, and the roots are edible even if the greens die back.

If you live in a warmer zone, carrots can overwinter until a thick layer of mulch, typically 89 inches deep, and you can continue to harvest carrots into the spring.

When to Plant

Directly sow carrot seeds into the garden bed 8-12 weeks before your first expected frost date. Then, thin them to 3 inches apart when the tops are 3-4 inches tall.

Learn How to Grow Carrots With My Easy Guide!

2. Peas

Too many people don’t think of peas as a fall garden vegetable, but since they like the cool weather of the spring, they handle fall weather great.

My family loves peas, and fall peas tend to be sweeter than spring peas. The cool temperatures and light frosts lead to an even sweeter harvest. Plus, peas are one of the easiest crops to grow!

It’s crucial to understand that, while peas can handle a light frost, they won’t survive a hard frost. So, look for varieties that have a short maturity time. I like Alaska Peas from Baker’s Creek; these tend to harvest within 55-60 days.

When to Plant

Typically, if you pick a variety that harvests in 60 days (give or take), it’s best to sow them directly into your garden about 10 weeks before your first frost date.

Learn How to Grow Peas in My Easy Guide

3. Lettuce

Not all lettuce varieties are cool-weather hardy. You can grow lettuce throughout the winter if you have some sort of season extender, such as a cold frame, that can keep it a bit warmer.

Lettuce is half-hardy. In hot weather, the plants turn bitter, but the extreme cold freezes the leaves and renders them inedible.

However, you can plant it as a fall garden crop and have fresh salads until a hard freeze.

When to Plant

Sow your lettuce seeds 4-8 weeks before the first frost date in your region. The ideal temperature range is between 45-75°F, and make sure the plants have full sunlight to partial shade.

4. Cabbage

No list of cool-weather vegetables is complete without cabbage. It’s the epitome of cold tolerant crops that reach their peak flavor in the fall because of the multiple light frosts.

Historically, cabbages were grown so that families could create huge batches of sauerkraut. Also, some cabbage varieties can be stored for months in a root cellar. This was a crop that fed families through the winter months.

When to Plant

Cabbage seeds need to be started in the summer 12-14 weeks before the first frost in your area. Transplant the seedling outside in your garden when the seedlings are 4-6 weeks old. You might need some temporary shade if the summer temperatures are too hot still.

5. Swiss Chard

I think Swiss chard is beautiful in the garden, especially when you grow a variety of colors. It’s considered a hardy vegetable because it tolerates light frosts.

However, unlike collard greens and kale, Swiss chad cannot handle deep freezes unless you have it growing under some sort of protection.

When to Plant

It’s best if you start the Swiss chard seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your first frost date. Plan to set out the seedlings when they’re about 4 weeks old.

Swiss chard needs full sunlight to partial shade for best growth results.

6. Brussels Sprouts

I can’t lie; I’m a huge fan of brussels sprouts, which are in the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. However, brussels tend to have a reputation for being hard to grow and picky about their growth habitats.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to grow them. It’s most important that they have the right temperatures. Brussels do the best when they grow between 45-75°F, and they tolerate light frosts which enhance their flavor.

When to Plant

The problem with brussels is that they take a long time to grow and reach a harvest.

If you live in northern states, you can plant a standard variety that takes around 105-120 days to reach maturity in mid-to-late June and have a harvest by November.

You can select a faster maturity rate if you live somewhere cooler, such as in Canada, or hotter, such as the southern states. Some of the faster maturing varieties take about 85 days and tend to be very cold hardy.

Learn How to Grow Brussels Sprouts at Home

7. Kale

Kale is considered one of the classic cool-weather vegetables, perfect for fall gardening. Most varieties are exceptionally cold tolerant, capable of keeping its dark green color and nutrients into the winter months.

Kale can stay alive long after most crops die away. In some areas, it will survive in the winter with protection. In fact, a few frosts make the leaves sweeter because the cold temperatures change the starches into sugars throughout the leaves and stems.

When to Plant

Plant kale 6-8 weeks before the first frost date in your area. Make sure it has full sun or partial shade.

8. Collard Greens

Did you know collard greens are a close relative to kale?

It’s true, and it’s why these greens do so well throughout the fall. Collard greens are a favorite in the southern states, but that doesn’t mean it can’t handle cold temperatures!

Just like kale, collards are resistant to cold temperatures and experience frost-triggered sweetness. Best of all, it’s a great addition to so many hearty soups and stews, adding nutrients to your diet.

When to Plant

Plant collard greens 6-8 weeks before your first expected frost date.

9. Arugula

If you haven’t tried arugula, you need to this year. Arugula has a delicious spicy, sharp taste that will add a much needed kick to your salads.

Arugula does well in cool temperatures, and it grows quickly. It’s one of the fastest growing crops, so you can clip off some each morning if you wanted.

When to Plant

If you want a constant harvest of arugula throughout the fall, start sowing the seeds in late summer and add a new row every 2-3 weeks, using succession planting.

10. Beets

Beets can be an acquired taste for some people, but they’re delicious and juicy when grown and prepared properly.

If you’re a bit hesitant to grow beets, the ones grown in the fall tend to have more vibrant colors and a sweeter flavor.

You don’t need to wait forever to eat beets. he roots can form in as early as 5 weeks, and the leaves can be eaten 3 weeks after sowing.

When to Plant

Plant beet seeds directly in the garden 8-10 weeks before your first frost date. Beets are frost tolerant and can handle temperatures into the mid-20s.

11. Kohlrabi

This is the first year that I tried growing kohlrabi, and I have t otell you I’m a serious fan now! Not only is kohlrabi easy and quick to mature, but they’re a great cool-weather vegetable.

Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family, so it’s related to cabbage, broccoli, and other similar plants. The roots are crisp and sweet, and you can eat both the bulbs and the leaves raw or cooked.

When to Plant

Since kohlrabi plants are frost tolerant, you can directly sow the seeds 6-8 weeks before your area’s first expected frost.

12. Bunching Onions

Bunching onions are a crop that takes little effort to grow, and they don’t take up too much space. They’re considered a perennial, and if you protect them from the winter weather, they’ll grow and spread year after year. Later, you can divide them to plant elsewhere.

When to Plant

The best time to plant bunching onions is 8-10 weeks before your first expected frost date directly into the garden.

13. Rutabaga

If you’ve never grown rutabagas, they’re close to turnips and have similar growth characteristics, but they have larger roots plus a sweeter flavor. Unfortunately, they aren’t as popular as other root veggies, which is a shame.

Rutabagas are Brassica root-crops that are like a mix between turnips and cabbage. You can eat them raw, roasted, boiled, mashed, and fried.

When to Plant

When you should plant rutabagas in the fall does vary. Typically, you’ll look at their dates to maturity and count back from your target harvesting date. Most roots take 90 days to mature.

14. Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be a hard crop to grow because it has particular growing requirements. However, if you pay close attention, it’s doable for most gardeners. If you live in USDA zones 2-11 (which is almost everywhere aside from interior Alaska), you can grow cauliflower.

You can grow different cultivars from 50-100 days to maturity, and some aren’t even white! You can grow cauliflower heads that are green, purple, and orange. Those varieties are full of vitamins and nutrients.

When to Plant

If you live in northern zones, plant your crop in the late summer for a fall crop. For southern gardeners, start your plants indoors and plant outside when the temperatures cool down.

15. Bok Choy

Some people refer to this as Chinese cabbage, and that’s essentially what bok choy is, but it doesn’t develop into heads like traditional cabbage. Bok Choy is crisp, smooth, and tender leaves that has a slight peppery taste.

It’s delicious in stir fries, fall soups, or stews. Since it’s a biennial, it can live throughout the winter in zones 8 and above, but it’ll bolt quickly as the spring temperatures rise.

When to Plant

Direct sow the seeds in either full sunlight or partial shade in the mid-to-late summer. Plant the final row 6-8 weeks before your first expected frost date.

16. Spinach

I have to tell you a secret; for whatever reason, spinach is something that I struggle to grow well. I can grow dozens of greens and other veggies in my garden, but simple spinach doesn’t enjoy growing for me.

Despite my struggles, spinach is a classic fall garden vegetable. It flourishes in cooler weather, leading to an abundant harvest. Spinach can survive frost and even freezing weather, so it’s a clear choice for anyone wanting cool-weather vegetables.

When to Plant

Direct sow the spinach seeds 8 weeks before your last frost date. You can harvest the outer leaves when they’re several inches long, and then you can continue harvesting until the plant dies from a hard frost.

17. Broccoli

When doesn’t love fresh broccoli? It’s even more delicious as a fall garden vegetable.

Broccoli loves cool weather and handles hard frosts as well. When you don’t have the heat of the summer to cause bolting, the plant devotes all of its energy into developing large heads.

Broccoli heads tend to be sweeter in the fall; a few light frosts enhance the flavor.

When to Plant

Start broccoli seeds inside 14 weeks before your final frost date and transplant outside 10 weeks before your last expected frost date.

You might need a floating row cover or a mini-hoop house to protect the seedlings as the weather cools. Pests tend to really enjoy fall broccoli as well.

18. Mustard Greens

Here is another underrated green that you need to add to your fall garden. Mustard greens have nutrients similar to kale and collard greens, but the main difference is the taste. These greens have a spicy kick that make them an excellent addition to salads, and they maintain their spiciness throughout the fall.

When to Plant

Start direct sowing mustard greens in the mid-to-late summer months. You can sow a row of seeds every few weeks to have several harvest available as the months cool down.

19. Radishes

Did you know that there IS a difference between winter and traditional radishes?

It’s the truth! Winter radishes take longer to grow and mature, whereas traditional radishes reach harvest in as little as 4-6weeks.

Winter radishes can reach several pounds when it’s time to harvest, and they’ll be one of the last things in your garden after the first frost.

When to Plant

Winter radishes need to be planted in the middle of the summer, and their size dramatically increases as the temperatures start to cool. A layer of mulch can keep them cooler.

20. Turnips

Truth be told, no list of cool-weather vegetables is complete without turnips, which have fed people for thousands of years throughout the winter months.

However, now the humble turnip tends to get passed over by most gardeners, and home chefs have no idea how to turn this root crop into the star veggie it once was.

Turnips are versatile, similar to beets and rutabagas. You can eat their roots and the greens, and they love cool weather. Temperatures around 60°F are their jam, and they only take about 60-70 days to reach maturity.

With such a short maturity time frame, you can grow and harvest multiple times in the fall and spring.

When to Plant

You can try using succession planting techniques with turnips as well. For a fall garden harvest, count back from your area’s first frost date 6-8 weeks.

It’s a smart idea to lay a thick layer of mulch over the top. Doing so lets you leave the turnips in the ground and harvest throughout the winter.

Growing a Fall Garden

Summer is the time when you need to decide what cool-weather vegetables that you want to grow in your fall garden. Fall gardening is a great way to extend your harvest and add more veggies in your pantry.

Do you have favorite cool-weather vegetables for your fall garden?

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