Fall is better known for big harvests and feasts, but fall can also be a great time to plant and grow certain cool-weather veggies in your garden. While certain plants take advantage of the lingering summer heat in early autumn, there are a number of hardy greens and frost tolerant vegetables that you can plant, even late in the season. If you’re looking to start some end-of-the-year gardening, here are some good crops to plant before the winter.
Kale and certain lettuces can be great for a winter garden. Kale is much hardier than lettuce and can survive even very cold winters, but lettuce will fare much better in milder seasons. However, cold weather can sweeten the taste of lettuce, so the winter is a great time to grow. Kale may be an unfamiliar green for many people, but it’s a very nutritious green that will be a great addition to many holiday dishes. When cold weather approaches, just make sure that you properly cover your crops to avoid freezing.
Spinach is a great winter crop, and it can be grown throughout the season, even in the coldest areas. Spinach won’t require much help to grow during the winter it will need to be covered and need about a foot between plants to grow. Rather than harvesting the full plant, only take a few leaves from each plant at a time. This will let you harvest for the full season and keep plants as healthy as possible. We recommend using our Soil20 soil conditioner to help retain water so you can water during warmer days to release water slowly.
Garlic and Shallots
Most people will wait until spring to plant garlic and shallots, but you can get the jump on most gardeners to set up a large, tasty crop. Garlic and shallots planted in fall and harvested in summer will result in larger bulbs with stronger flavor than those planted in late spring. Both plants will need at least a month in the ground to get established before the ground freezes. Once the cold comes, the plants will go dormant until the spring thaw. As soon as they thaw, your garlic and shallots will have a healthy head start leading to a big crop in the summer.
Transplant Flowering Vegetables
Brassicas plants like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are tasty additions to any fall garden, especially in warmer climates. Since most will have to be harvested before the first freeze, it can be easier to transplant rather than planting from seeds. If you want to transplant, you’ll want slightly acidic soil. To set up a proper growing schedule, do some math and add 10 days to the plant’s maturity date and count backwards from the first expected frost. Definitely harvest these before the first hard freeze if you’re in a colder area, but if you’ll have a mild winter these will be great additions to winter meals.
You won’t be harvesting these throughout the winter, but the fall is an excellent time to plant rootcrops for a spring harvest. Late maturing roots like carrots, beets and rutabaga are easy to plant. If you have about 30 days before your first expected freeze, you can stock up on some quick growing rootcrops like chives and green onions, but you’ll have to move quickly to plant these.
Fresh herbs are an important addition to any holiday feast, and homegrown herbs are the best. Luckily, you don’t need your full garden to plant a good herb crop, just move them inside the house. Herbs like basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, chives and more can easily be grown indoors. Put them in pots, with a sunny growing location. Just be careful not to overwater them.