Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you have to pack up your gardening gloves just yet. With autumn around the corner, the old saying “every end is a new beginning” becomes truer and truer. Now is the season to start and enjoy new crops in your vegetable garden.
Broccoli, as well as its close cousin, cauliflower, is an easy-to-grow plant that can thrive under cold conditions. Many gardeners plant it later in summer, but don’t wait too long, as it can take up to 100 days to mature. Consider starting seeds indoors and transplanting the seedling about two months before your first frost.
Chives are perennial crops, meaning that even if you don’t enjoy a bountiful harvest this year, you will likely have a bumper crop next year, when the plants come back. Chives are a great companion plant for many commonly grown crops, like carrots, and can be harvested in as little as sixty days. These cold-tolerant plants can survive a frost, and there’s nothing you need to do – besides wait – to make sure they come back the following year.
Carrots are a popular choice for most gardeners, as they are easy to preserve and enjoy throughout the entire year. They can also be grown well into the fall and early winter months. For best results, plant carrots in loose soil, and then mulch around the tops to prevent weeds and to moderate the soil temperature. Fall carrots often taste better than those harvested in the summer, which can be more bitter.
Turnips can grow throughout the summer months, but prefer being grown in the early fall, as they enjoy cooler temperatures. While summer varieties tend to be more tender, fall-harvested turnips are more resilient, storing well in a cool, dry place. In many cases, your crop can last you all winter.
Cabbage can thrive in a fall garden, but it’s important to select the right type of cabbage, as not all are suited for colder weather. Pick late cabbage for the best results, and plant in July or early August. Late-season cabbage loves cool, wet weather, and will take about 100 days to reach full maturity.
Kale, a relative of both broccoli and cabbage, is highly nutritious and can feed your family throughout the coldest months of the year. It is tough to grow in warmer locations, and is incredibly cold hardy. Wait until early July to sow seeds indoors, then transplant in late July or early August. You should be harvesting tasty Kale starting in late September, and you can enjoy it up until the snow flies.
Beets grow rapidly, taking only about two or three months to mature. They can be planted at the end of summer and harvested after the first few frosts, as beets actually taste sweeter after being exposed to a light frost. Wait to harvest until their tops begin to emerge from the soil.
Garlic not only loves growing in cold weather, it needs to. Garlic should be planted in the fall for a spring harvest, so while you must exercise some serious patience in growing this crop, know that it doesn’t need to be maintained much at all during the winter months. It should be planted about six to eight weeks before the first frost. Be sure you cover it with a thick layer of mulch to protect it from snow and other harsh elements.
Horseradish is another root crop on the list, enjoyed as a peppery condiment in a variety of dishes as well as a home sinus remedy. Horseradish is perennial and incredibly easy to grow, acting as an invasive in some parts of the country. While horseradish is best planted in the spring and harvested in the fall, you can also plant in the late summer if you’re in a pinch, as this plant will grow just about anywhere and at any time.
- Leafy greens
Leafy greens, like lettuce and spinach, grow well in the fall, tolerating even a light frost. These plants prefer cool weather and will actually fail to thrive in the heat of the summer. You can plant multiple batches of lettuce, sowing just before each previous crop bolts, or wait until the end of August to plant.
If you plant during the hottest time of the summer, be sure to cool the soil first by covering it with a thick layer of straw mulch. Wait a week, and then plant. The soil will be significantly cooler than that found in the rest of the garden. You can then plant every three weeks or so, enjoying a delicious crop of lettuce each time.
Once the snow begins to fly and your garden experiences more severe killing frosts and heavy snowfall, you can further extend your growing season by adding row covers and cold frames. These easy-to-build additions will help you grow these cold-hardy vegetables long into the winter months as well.
If your garden is failing to thrive at any time of the year, consider adding PlantCatalyst®. This plant additive doesn’t necessarily extend your growing season, but helps plants work with the conditions they have to provide a more productive yield. This all-natural plant compound enhances soil health and allows your garden to be more fertile year after year.
Entirely safe for human consumption, it has been used by both large- and small- scale gardeners for years. It does not damage plants like traditional fertilizers might and can be added at any stage of the growing process, as well as during any season. Consider using it to enhance your yields this autumn.
Fall is a great time to enjoy gardening, as temperatures are cooler and most needed water is provided by Mother Nature herself. Keep in mind that many of these plants benefit from being started inside and then transplanted, while others prefer to be directly sown as seeds. Be sure to mind the climate in the area in which you live and watch out for drastic temperature changes that can affect the growth of your plants. Happy gardening!