You may think that gardening for the season is finished once the summer crops begin to wane, but that’s hardly the case.
In fact, your vegetable garden is truly just getting started good.
Beets are an excellent choice for a fall garden. They love cooler temperatures and are hard to “beet” when roasted in the oven.
Beets are sown directly in the garden soil most of the time, but can also be started indoors and transplanted using care. Sow the seeds a 1/2-inch deep and then plants to about six inches apart.
The seeds should germinate in five to fourteen days and be ready to harvest in about 50-65 days after the seeds germinate. Beets can tolerate a few light freezes.
Not only are the roots delicious, but the tops taste great as well and contain a number of important vitamins and minerals.
Kohlrabi grows well in cooler temperatures and has a very distinctive look. I will admit, the first time I laid eyes on this vegetable I thought it was an alien!
Don’t let the unusual look fool you – this vegetable has a rockin’ taste. it features a bulb that grows above ground with stems that project outward.
The bulbs are peeled and cooked in a variety of different ways and tastes much like a turnip. The leaves can be harvested and cooked much like collards, with a taste that is very similar.
Kohlrabi can be started indoors or sown directly in the garden. Seeds should be planted 1/2-inch deep and thinned to ten to twelve inches apart.
Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in the vegetable garden. There is a huge assortment of different varieties to choose from – some with frilly leaves and some that grow into large heads.
Lettuce grows bests in rich soil and cooler temperatures. It can tolerate a light frost, but freezing temperatures may kill it.
Sow lettuce directly in the garden, or start it indoors to get a jump on the growth time. Sow lettuce seeds about a 1/4-inch deep with a spacing of about twelve inches apart.
Mustard greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C, and also calcium and iron. These greens can be added to salads raw, or sautéed for a delicious side dish.
Another great attribute of mustard greens is it is very easy to grow.
Start seeds indoors for a fall garden in the late summer, or sow seeds directly in fall. Mustard greens are ready to harvest in about 50 – 60 days after the seeds germinate.
Collards are the classic fall vegetable for many southern vegetable gardens, but it grows well in other areas too.
Collards are related to cabbage and broccoli and need fertile soil that has good levels of nitrogen for foliage growth. They transplant fairly easily so starting seeds indoors and transplanting into the garden later is no problem.
Remember to give collards plenty of space – about 36 inches apart – to accomodate the large leaves of the plant.
Now we are getting to one of my favorite fall vegetables – kale. Kale is another leafy vegetable that is similar to collards, turnip greens, and mustard greens. The leaves of the plant can be found to be curled and very ornamental depending on the variety.
Kale tastes best when the leaves are picked young and tender. Leaves left on the plant too long can become tough and leathery.
Sow kale seeds1/4-inch deep and about 12-24 inches apart depending on the variety you are growing. Refer to the seed pack for spacing requirements for your specific variety.
You can harvest outer kale leaves when they are eight-ten inches long. A light frost helps to improve the taste of kale and removes bitterness in the leaves.
Broccoli is mostly grown in early spring, but can also be grown with great success in the fall. Seeds can be started indoors or sown directly in the garden.
Sow seeds 1/4-inch deep and thinned to about 24 inches apart once seedlings emerge.
Broccoli heads are usually ready to harvest in 65-75 days after the seeds germinate.
Cover the onion sets with a thick layer of mulch during the winter for insulation in cool climates. The sets will grow new green tops in spring and will be ready to harvest in late spring/early summer.
Bok choi is not a very common vegetable in the US, but it has a tasty cabbage-like taste and is easy to grow in fall gardens.
Bok choi needs fertile soil with plenty of nitrogen for good foliage growth. It is a very fast growing vegetable that is ready to harvest in as little as 35 days after seed germination.
Baby spinach leaves can be harvested in less than 40 days from seedling emergence and go well in salads, stir-fry and other dishes.
Sow spinach seeds 1/2-inch deep and space plants about six to twelve inches apart.
You can harvest outer spinach leaves and allow them to re-grow giving you a steady crop of leaves for several weeks.
Bonus Vegetable for Fall
Garlic is a relatively slow growing plant and should be planted in fall for most regions. Allow garlic to overwinter and provide a thick layer of mulch for insulation.
The garlic bulbs will be ready to harvest in mid-summer of the following year.
It’s hard to beat the taste of homegrown garlic compared to store bought cloves.