Summer is flying by and it’s already time to start sowing crops for a fall harvest! Growing a fall garden will let you squeeze more out of your space and enjoy a second harvest. Fall gardening can be particularly enjoyable because it’s no longer as hot and humid as the summer. Who doesn’t enjoy a break from the heat? Also, the summer pests won’t be around to bother your fall veggies. If you’d like to start a fall garden, here’s what you can plant now.
There are many vegetables you can start from seeds at this time of year for a fall harvest. These plants are fairly quick-growing and thrive in cool weather.
Broccoli loves cool weather, making it a perfect choice for any fall garden. It can be directly sown into the garden, but it doesn’t always germinate well in the summer heat. You can start broccoli plants indoors where it’s cool, and then move them outside when nighttime temperatures start dropping below 70 degrees. Broccoli likes plenty of water, so pay attention and keep them hydrated once you plant them outside.
Another member of the brassica family (which includes broccoli, kale, and other cool-season vegetables), cabbage also prefers cooler weather. It’s also an excellent ingredient in fall and winter soups and stews. Cabbage will stay fresh for quite a while, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try fermenting your own sauerkraut. It’s easier than you think!
Kale is frost tolerant, allowing you to keep harvesting through the fall. It’s easy to grow, harvest, and incorporate into meals. Many people find that fall-grown kale is actually better tasting than spring kale. During cool weather, kale converts some of its starches into sugars. This helps to keep the leaves from freezing and makes them sweeter. Baby kale is delicious in salads.
Fast-growing and cool weather tolerant, this unique-looking vegetable deserves a spot in your garden. It’s another member of the brassica or cabbage family, and has edible leaves and a bulb-like stem. The stem tastes a bit like a sweet turnip and can be enjoyed raw. It is also excellent when roasted or sautéed.
Beets are also wonderful because they can be left in the ground, as long as it isn’t frozen, and harvested fresh as you need them. You can also make pickled beets. It's surprisingly easy and quick to can pickled beets for later use.
Cold weather actually stimulates sugar accumulation in carrots, which makes them sweeter and acts as a natural anti-freeze. Like beets, carrots can be left in the ground, as long as it isn’t frozen, and harvested as needed. Sow a new row of carrots every two weeks during August and September for a long harvest and some to keep through early winter.
Fall is an excellent time to plant cauliflower for a couple of reasons. First, in order to develop full heads, cauliflower needs cool weather and plenty of water. Second, by planting in fall, you can avoid many of the pests that may plague spring plantings.
Related Blog: Fall is for Planting – Don’t Forget Bulbs
For a fall harvest, cold tolerant crops with long growing seasons need to be grown from purchased transplants or started from seed at home well in advance.
Leeks are a cold-hardy, mild member of the onion family. They grow best when transplanted. When selecting a variety, be sure to look for "winter type" leeks or those with fewer days to maturity. Leeks can vary between 80-150 days to harvest. In order to develop a nice white stem, leek transplants must be planted in deep holes or have soil pushed up around their stems as they grow.
Another extremely cold-hardy vegetable, Brussels Sprouts can be grown well into winter. They have a long growing season, 58-120 days depending on the variety, so they need to be started early. At this time of year, it’s best to purchase transplants.