Best Crops for Fall Gardening

With Fall upon us, now is the time to plant some seasonal vegetables that thrive this time of the year. You might be surprised to know that there are many veggies that love to grown in the cooler months, and many of them will do well for a long time. If you live in the Southern states then you will be able to maintain your Fall garden well into the Winter months.

The trick is to know what plants can grow, and how to grow them well so that they give you an abundance of healthy, fresh produce you can enjoy and so can your family and friends. The good news is that you won’t need to be concerned with the typical pests and diseases that can run rampant through a crop during the Summer months. This will make it easier to manage your garden.

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These are some of the crops that will do well in your Fall garden:

  1. Cabbage
  2. Beets
  3. Carrots
  4. Kale
  5. Swiss Chard
  6. Arugula
  7. Garlic

Fun Fact: Some of these vegetables belong to a vegetable group called ‘Brassicas’. It is believed by scientists that all the Brassicas originated from a strain of wild mustard. Some of the members of the Brassica family include cabbage, collards, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and, of course, mustard. Mustard developed its pungent flavour by producing a chemical that is toxic to parasites.

With Fall crops it is important to start early and, remember, Fall crops will need a longer growing time because there will be less sunshine and this slows down growth. Here are some helpful suggestions for growing the different types of Fall crops.

1. Cabbage

Cabbage is a very hardy and versatile crop, that has many wonderful culinary uses. It is the main ingredient for making sauerkraut! A helpful tip for growing cabbage during the cooler months is to start the seeds indoors and place them on a South-facing window for extra light and warmth.

Make sure you sow them roughly 8 weeks before the first days of frost. Once you have little seedlings, you can take them outside to harden them up for about a week. They should be ready to transplant into your garden between August-September.

Use lots of manure or compost when you plant them and give them plenty of space to grow so plant them roughly 1-2 feet apart. It will take cabbages about 70 days to reach maturity. Despite cabbages being a frost-hardy crop, if the temperatures drop below 25 degrees F, then it is recommended to use row covers during the night. [1]

2. Beets

Beets are another excellent Fall crop vegetable. Like cabbage, beets should also be planted 8-10 weeks before the first signs of frost. Interestingly, beets harvested during Fall will have a stronger color than those that are grown during the warmer months. Beets will need some space to grow also, so sow the seeds about 1 inch deep and make sure they are at least 3-4 inches apart. [2]

3. Carrots

The best way to grow carrots is to sow them directly into the soil about 6-8 inches apart. The seeds are very small and so it can be difficult to be very precise but try not to sow any more than 5-8 seeds in one spot. It is possible to thin them out later.

4. Kale

The wonderful thing about Kale is that it can be grown in hot or cold climates throughout most of the world. The difference being that Kale grown in a warmer climate will generally have a more bitter flavor. Kale, known to be a superfood, is used medicinally in many parts of the world to treat a range of digestive issues, and a host of other ailments.

Kale grown as a Fall crop will be sweeter and more tender. It is best to start kale indoors and, when the plant is about 4 inches tall and has true leaves, you can take them outside to harden up for about a week before you transfer them into your garden. It is recommended to plant kale 12 inches apart but I have had success planting them closer together, which is useful if you don’t have a lot of space.

5. Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is not one of my favourite vegetables to eat but I love to watch it grow. The Rainbow Chard is a particularly attractive variety. If you are like me and you do not enjoy the taste of chard, it can still be a beautiful vegetable to add into your garden because it will add a much appreciated splash of color during a cold time of the year.

Grow chard just as you would kale, but chard can be planted as close as 2 inches apart.

6. Arugula

Arugula, sometimes called Rocket, is a very fast growing green. When the Summer heat is over, you can sow the seeds directly into the soil 12 inches apart, but you can sow them in rows much closer together also. The plant will flower quickly because it grows so fast, which intensifies its’ spicy flavour.

The young leaves are less spicy and they can be picked as early as a month after sowing. The flowers are also edible. There are slow bolting varieties of Arugula, too, if you don’t want flowering to happen to soon.

7. Garlic

Garlic takes a longer time to mature and so you won’t get to harvest your crop until, at the earliest, Spring. Try planting your garlic cloves, pointy side up, in loose well-turned, composted soil. You should plant them 4-6 inches apart and push them around 1-2 inches into the ground. Give them water for about four days, and then you can leave them alone all Winter.

Mulching on top of them will give them some protection throughout Winter. You can mulch them again in Spring with roughly 4 inches of straw mulch. Once the stem of the garlic is 6-8 inches tall, prune it back to encourage the bulb to develop. Although you may be able to harvest your garlic by Spring, it will generally be ready by mid-Summer.

Gardening during Fall can be a lot of fun. Keeping active when the weather is getting cooler can be a nice way to warm up, and it is fun to see vegetables growing throughout the coldest months of the year. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to harvest your own crops, no matter what season.

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melissa

I am a homesteading enthusiast, a published writer, and director at FROMSCRATCHMAG. My experience in areas such as brand management, graphic design, and photography are valuable additions to our writing team. When I am not writing or publishing anything, I am out gardening in my small farm or cooking. I am also an herbalist, an experience I use to spread the word about sustainable living.

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