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Cool Season Gardening

Fall Vegetables

Growing cool season vegetables and herbs is like going on vacation in the off season; there aren’t as many pests and you probably will have to wear boots and a jacket while hiking around the garden.

But oh what sweet, flavorful crops you can grow when the daytime temperatures average 60* F and nights hover in the 40* F range. These hardy foodstuffs are tough and can handle the chill.

Best Vegetables for a Fall Garden:

  1. Beets – Sow seed directly into garden about a month before the last frost. Continue to plant every couple of weeks if your weather is cool all summer. Plant again in late summer for a fall crop; harvest the greens and the root for good eating. Beets can be left in the ground until it freezes.

  2. Broccoli – Can take the occasional frosts but does not take kindly to warm weather, where it bolts and gets bitter. Grow broccoli indoors in the seed starter greenhouse (see brochure to find out how to build your own seed starter greenhouse) and plant transplants about a month before last frost. Plant transplants again in late summer for a fall harvest.
  3. Broccoli Raab – A fast grower with edible nutritious stems, leaves and florets that is ready to harvest in 40 days. Sow seeds directly in the garden 6 weeks before last frost, again in late summer, or in mild climates, late fall.
  4. Chives – Onion and Garlic chives are two cool season herbs that can be easily planted by seed in the garden 3-4 weeks before the last frost. They are perennial so give them their own undisturbed space.
  5. Cilantro – This herb loves the cool weather and will grow lots of leaves to spice up any meal. Sow seeds in the garden every 2-3 weeks from early spring till fall. Does not transplant well.
  6. Dill – Sow seeds 4-5 weeks before last frost and every 3 weeks until fall to ensure plenty of ferny leaves.
  7. Kale – Grow greens for the health of it. Loaded with vitamins, minerals and flavor this vegetable is easy to plant by seed in the early spring and again in the late summer. Under cover it may grow most of the winter too. Try ‘Red Russian’ or ‘Dinosaur’.
  8. Kohlrabi – They do look a bit like space ships, and steamed with butter and seasonings the flavor is out of this world, but they are just a cool hardy vegetable that Grandma used to grow. Sow seeds 2-4 weeks before the last frost and again in the summer into fall.
  9. Lettuce – Hardy and colorful, a must have for the cool season garden. Mix different varieties together. Plant seeds in the garden every 3 weeks for continual harvest.
  10. Onions – Plant sets as soon as the ground can be worked in spring. Choose Long-day onions for the North and Short-day sets for the Southern areas where they can grow for 3 seasons.
  11. Parsley – Start indoors 8 weeks before last frost or outdoors 3-4 weeks before last frost. Soak seeds overnight for faster germination.
  12. Potatoes – Plant seed potatoes 2-4 weeks before the last frost. Protect from hard freezes. Hill soil or mulch to protect tubers from sunlight as they grow.
  13. Spinach – Sow seed in early spring through fall for continued harvest. A fast grower but may have to plant more seed during warm weather to ensure germination.
  14. Turnips – Grow this one for the tops or greens and the root. Broadcast seed for a turnip patch in early spring and again in the fall. 

By Cindy Shapton
Gardening Expert for TSC
“Make gardening fun or It will become work!”