Top 10 Vegetables for Your Fall Garden

The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of vegetable gardening.

The cooling weather of fall is perfectly suited for many of the same crops that grow well in the coolness of spring. Some even prefer maturing as temperatures get cooler instead of hotter.

4 things to consider before fall vegetable gardening:

1. The best fall performers are species that can tolerate below-freezing nights.

Crops that die at the first frost (tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, etc.) are out, which is why they’re planted in spring to mature by the end of summer.

2. Fall crops need enough lead time that they’ll mature before cold weather kills them.

To calculate planting dates, determine when your nighttime lows start dipping into the low 20s, then count backwards the number of days that the seed packets or plant tags tell you it takes the variety to go from planting to harvest. You may be able to milk a little extra growing time by protecting crops with row covers or cold frames.

3. Fall crops tend to mature slower in fall as daylight shortens.

For that reason, allow an extra week or two beyond the usual time it takes a crop to reach pickable size. Or lean toward varieties that mature as quickly as possible.

4. Even though weeds are less of an issue in the fall than they are in the spring and rain is typically more plentiful than it is in the summer, you should still monitor both.

A mulch of leaves or straw discourages weeds, slows moisture loss, and insulates the soil on cold nights. An application of Preen Natural Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer also discourages new weeds around plants that are up and growing.

Our top 10 choices for fall veggies:

1. Cabbage

Start with transplants to speed maturity and look for “early” varieties that are ready to pick in 60 days or less, such as:

  • 'Stonehead'
  • 'Katarina'
  • 'Earliana'
  • 'Golden Acre'
  • 'Red Express'

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2. Broccoli

Cabbageworms are still a threat in fall, so cover transplants with row cover, or spray with organic Bt. Go with fast-maturing varieties such as:

  • 'Gypsy'
  • 'Belstar'
  • 'Arcadia'
  • the purple-headed ‘Jacarandaor'
  • the heirloom ‘DiCicco'

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3. Brussels sprouts

These tall plants produce cabbage-like balls all along the stems. Some say the flavor is best after several frosty nights. Start with transplants in mid to late summer since these can take three months or more to yield.

Brussel Sprouts

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4. Kale

One of the cold-toughest of all edibles, kale is also a good-looking plant that comes in both green and purple versions. Leaves can be harvested into and even through some winters. Plant from seed or transplant.


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5. Carrots

The roots survive even frozen soil and also can be harvested well into fall. Carrots come in many different lengths and colors, including purple, gold, red, and white in addition to the familiar orange. Plant from seed.


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6. Turnips

Another cold-tough, seed-planted root crop, turnips can go from seed to harvestable, crunchy balls in 50 to 60 days.


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7. Spinach

Spinach prefers to grow in cool to cold temperatures with its leaves able to survive even sharp freezes, sometimes into winter. It’s also one of the fastest greens from seed to harvest.

Some varieties that are ready in as little as 30 days:

  • 'Lakeside'
  • 'Seaside'
  • 'Acadia'

Cover plants with floating row cover if leaf miners are a problem.

Baby Spinach

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8. Lettuce

Loose-leaf types are the fastest to mature, and like most greens, live through fairly hard frosts. Plant from seed every two weeks from late summer into early fall to maximize harvest.


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9. Radishes

These little globes are super-fast from seed to harvest with some varieties ready in as little as 25 days. They’re also very cold-tough.

Some of the fastest varities: 

  • 'Cherry Belle'
  • 'French Breakfast'
  • 'Champion'
  • 'Rover'

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10. Garlic

Although these culinary stars won’t be ready to harvest until the following early summer, garlic bulbs are best planted in fall to get their roots growing before winter sets in.


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