Fall has long been one of my favorite seasons. While I do love the heat and excitement of the summer, it is nice to slow down and relax when the temperatures begin to cool off. This sentiment also applies to the happenings in the garden, as well. Late summer and fall is the perfect time to begin thinking about planting broccoli, kale, and other delicious garden vegetables that thrive when matured in cool weather.
When considering what vegetable plants to plant in the fall garden, you’ll want to look for varieties of crops that demonstrate some tolerance to cold. Since these plants will grow throughout the fall (and sometimes into winter), it is very possible that many of these plants will experience frost and sometimes, snow. Ability to withstand frost is the key to selecting the right plants for your garden.
Ideally, most seeds should be started quite some time before the average first frost date for your area – usually about 12 weeks. This number can be calculated easily online by searching for your average first frost date, then subtracting the weeks. More specific numbers can also be achieved by subtracting the days to maturity for the specific crop your have decided to grow. When doing this, I like to subtract one or two additional weeks, just in case the weather is being especially unpredictable.
While starting your own seeds can be a little intimidating for beginner growers, it really is the best option for those hoping for bountiful harvests. Unfortunately, it is very seldom that transplants for fall crops can be found at garden centers or home improvement stores. Personally, I think that is a major disappointment! Here in my zone, the taste of crops allowed to mature in cool weather is beyond compare to their summer counterparts.
When starting seeds for the fall garden, the options are limitless. Though many growers choose to start the seeds indoors, others may opt to direct sow them in place. In my garden, I choose to start the seeds outdoors in seed trays. This is mainly due to a lack of space in the garden AND inside the house. Starting the seeds in trays outdoors works well, as long as the trays are not allowed to dry out and are sheltered from the sun during the hottest parts of the day. Blazing hot broccoli plants are not happy broccoli plants.
What I’m Planting This Year –
In the past, I’ll admit, I have been less than enthusiastic about starting plants for the fall garden. After all, most cold hardy crops are brassicas and various greens. Who would ever be excited about cauliflower!? Over the years, as I have worked on my eating habits, I have genuinely found myself enjoying these luscious salad greens quite a bit more. Here’s what I’m planting this year –
‘Red Chantenay’ Carrots
‘Trigger’ Crisphead Lettuce
‘Palla di Fuoco Rossa’ Radicchio
‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower
‘Nero di Toscana’ Kale
‘Brilliant’ Celeriac **Requires a long season – start transplants early.
‘Red Soba’ Buckwheat (extremely fast grower)
‘Red Rubine’ Brussels Sprouts
‘Green Globe’ Artichoke (technically grown as a biennial, will flower next season)
‘Beni Houshi’ Mizuna
‘Brightest Brilliant’ Quinoa
‘Autumn Giant’ Leeks
‘Red Amposta’ Onions (grown as a biennial, plants will produce bulbs next season)
‘Northern Lights’ Swiss Chard
‘Waltham 29’ Broccoli
‘Mini Purple’ Winter Radish
‘Cherry Belle’ Radish
‘Winter Blend’ Lettuce Mix
‘Purple Globe’ Turnip
That’s it! It looks like the entire backyard is going to be filled with veggies this fall! I guess I’ll need to find another place to plant my flowers! I would love to hear what you’re planting this fall – let me know in the comments below. Hope you’re having a great day!