Whether you’re not ready to see your gardening season come to an end or just love the idea of having a bunch of delicious cool-weather veggies growing in your back yard, the fall is a great time to garden. The cool weather makes working in your yard a little more comfortable, and many delicious vegetables thrive on colder temperatures. Even in hardiness zone 6a, where the cold weather of winter seems to set in a little sooner, I have quite a few options available to me. Here are my favorite vegetables to grow in a fall garden.
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Lettuce is a great option for gardeners hoping to extend their bounty into the fall. Fall is actually the perfect time to plant lettuce because hot weather will make your lettuce leaves taste bitter, while extreme cold may freeze your plants. The mild fall days will give you deliciously crispy lettuce all season. Start your lettuce plants four to eight weeks before the first frost (any time the temperatures will range from 45 to 75 degrees). Lettuce plants are happy in full sun or partial shade.
This leafy green loves cold weather, making it a great choice for your fall garden. In fact, spinach can survive in temperatures below freezing as long as the plant is fully grown before the freeze hits. And the great thing about spinach plants is that they keep on giving – harvest the outer leaves of the plant and your spinach will continue to grow new leaves to harvest throughout the fall gardening season. Like lettuce, it’s best to plant your spinach four to eight weeks before your first hard frost. These greens also grow well in full sun or partial shade.
While broccoli takes a little bit of planning to be added to your fall garden, it’s worth it to plant this yummy vegetable this season. You should start your broccoli seeds indoors 85 to 100 days before your first frost date and then transplant the seedlings in the garden when they are three weeks old. Broccoli is another hardy vegetable that is tolerant of cold temperatures. As long as your fall temperatures don’t go over 70 degrees, you should have a delicious crop of broccoli in your fall garden in no time.
One of the hardiest vegetables for a fall garden, brussels sprouts can tolerate freezing conditions and even a little bit of snow. In fact, frost actually improves the flavor of brussels sprouts, so it’s a good idea to want to harvest your sprouts until after the first frost. Plant your brussels sprouts seeds directly in your garden soil 85 to 100 days before your first frost in full sun.
Cool-weather and a lot of water will give you a head of sweet cabbage this fall. Cabbage is another fall plant that can tolerate frost and cold temperatures (as low as 20 degrees). For best results in your fall garden, start your cabbage plants indoors anywhere from six to 12 weeks before your last frost, then transplant the seedlings in your garden when they are three to four weeks old. Cabbage plants prefer full sun.
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