The growing season isn’t over yet! A fall garden is the perfect time to plant vegetables that prefer cooler temperatures. Whether you’re enjoying a healthy harvest of summer vegetables or wish you had planted in spring, a fall garden will give you a harvest. We’ll share what we grow in the fall so you can have a successful crop of veggies before winter sets in.
What are Good Fall Crops to Plant?
Crops that are good to plant in a fall garden are those vegetables that can’t handle the summer heat. These fall veggies prefer cooler temperatures and can even taste better when temperatures drop.
Top 15 Vegetables to Grow in a fall garden
Beets top the list of vegetables for a fall garden. This colorful vegetable is incredibly nutritious. Both the leaves and roots are packed with vitamins and nutrients. And they get even sweeter with a little brush of frost. After the first fall frost, the starch in beets will turn to sugar. So plan on harvesting extra tasty beets in the fall.
Cabbage is a very cold hardy vegetable which makes it perfect for growing in a fall garden. Even though cabbage can take 50 to 90 days to mature, it can withstand temperatures as low as 20ºF. Cabbage seeds can germinate in soil that’s 70ºF. But will continue growing as the soil cools off.
If you struggled to get celery growing before the hot summer sun made it turn bitter, try growing it in the fall. Celery takes from 90 to 120 days to reach maturity and thrives in temperatures between 50º and 70ºF. Read more on our blog about all the specifics of growing celery.
Broccoli is another incredibly healthy vegetable that grows best in cooler temperatures. It’s an excellent crop in a fall vegetable garden because broccoli seeds germinate at 75º. Then once the seeds have sprouted and leaves are growing, broccoli thrives in temperatures between 65º to 75º F.
These quick-growing veggies will give you a tasty harvest before winter. Their small size and fast growth make them easy to tuck in around mature plants.
Our heirloom lettuce blend is excellent for fall gardens. With the less intense fall sunlight, this lettuce won’t bolt. Protect it from frost for a longer harvest.
Kale is the ultimate cool-weather crop. It will thrive in partial shade and continue growing until temperatures drop below 20ºF. It grows fast, too, so you’ll be able to pick leaves in as little as 40 days.
We often think of carrots as spring vegetables. But they are equally suited to fall and winter gardens. Carrot seeds can be sprinkled in among other plants. They will germinate in warm soil and continue growing as the temperatures drop.
Start growing cauliflower 12 weeks before your first fall frost. Cauliflower likes to be pampered with consistently cool temperatures and water. When it’s too hot or stressed, cauliflower will bolt and not form a head.
Cool fall temperatures with plenty of water will give you a sweet harvest of crisp and juicy kohlrabi. Plant kohlrabi two months before your first hard freeze to give them time to mature. The beautiful leaves are also edible.
Pak Choi is a perfect vegetable for a fall garden because you can start harvesting baby leaves in 30 days. This tasty Chinese cabbage will add a lot of flavor to your fall cooking.
Spinach prefers cool soil to germinate. The roots are sensitive to being disturbed, and it's best to direct sow. These fast-growing leaves will give you a fresh harvest until they freeze.
Baby leaves of Swiss chard are the most tender. You can succession plant Swiss chard for a continual harvest up until the first freeze. They are frost tolerant but will need to be protected from anything more than a light frost.
Even though they can grow in the summer, collards taste even better with a touch of frost. These are adaptable crops for both spring and fall gardens.
Although you may get less yield in a fall garden, peas are important in making nitrogen available to other plants. If you missed the window for planting spring peas, fall is your second chance for a crop of delicious fresh peas.
Making a Fall Garden Plan
When planning a fall vegetable garden, start with what you already have growing. Are there plants that will be pulled out soon? Choose something that you can start now to take over the space.
Pair up what you have with what you want to grow. Still have tomatoes growing? Indeterminate heirloom tomatoes can keep growing until the first frost. You can plan for a delicious salad by planting some lettuce and radishes near your tomato plants.
Plan to rotate your crops. Plant your fall vegetables in a different spot than you did the season before.
Determine Your Planting Zone
Before you start planning your fall vegetable garden, it's important to determine your planting zone. You’ll want to ensure you have enough time for crops to mature before freezing temperatures are expected. You can easily find your planting zone by using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
Choose Cool-Season Vegetables for a Fall Garden
When planning your fall vegetable garden, it's important to choose cool-season vegetables that can withstand colder temperatures. These vegetables can thrive in cooler weather and will continue growing even as the temperatures drop.
Start Seeds Indoors or Direct Sow
When starting a fall vegetable garden, you can either start your seeds indoors or direct sow. Starting seeds indoors gives you more control over the growing process and gives you a head start on the growing season. Many seeds will germinate quickly in the warm outdoor soil. But some seeds may need more careful watching indoors. If the hot weather makes it difficult to keep the seeds moist, you may want to start them indoors.
Prepare Your Soil
You may want to do a pH test to see where you’re at after growing spring and summer vegetables. Apply a layer of well-rotted compost to add extra nutrients to your fall garden soil.
Care for Your Fall Vegetable Garden
Regular watering, weeding, and pest prevention will be needed. However, this is often a time of fewer pests and weeds. During the growing season, pay attention to the weather and cover crops with fabric covers to protect them when needed.
You may also want to consider cover crops in your fall garden plan. Cover crops can add important nutrients to your soil while protecting your garden beds during the winter. Winter oats, rye, and driller radish can help improve your soil for the next growing season. Read more about the importance of cover crops in vegetable gardens.
Fall Wildflowers and Herbs
And while you’re planning your fall vegetable garden, don’t forget about your wildflower garden. Fall is the perfect time to sow wildflowers. Late summer and early fall is also a good time to plant your perennial herbs.
Once your fall harvest is over, you can look forward to winter sowing with seeds that need cold stratification. Lavender, catnip, black-eyed Susan, and many wildflowers need cold stratification to germinate.
There’s always a growing season when you love sowing seeds. You just have to know what technique to use and plant your seeds at the right time.
Fall gardens are an excellent way to grow many healthy vegetables. And as you can see, there are plenty of cool-weather crops that can be planted in the fall. You’ll enjoy the time spent outdoors as you harvest a whole new crop of fresh food.
Written by Beverly Laudie