Gardening and I just are not getting along this year. Try as I may, the weather has been awful and my garden looks like a bed of weeds. Of course, there is food hidden in there somewhere and it’s really good. But, my attempt at gardening just kind of petered out. I’d love to plant a garden this fall, but we’ve just been so incredibly busy. I do think I may throw a few of these fall garden vegetables out there and see how they do, though.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy gardening, I do. I love going out and seeing what my own two hands, some dirt, water, and sunlight have grown from tiny seeds. It’s so… empowering and inspiring. I also enjoy time with my family, though, and have exactly 125,321 other responsibilities. Many of which, ahem most of which, take up a significant amount of time. So, unfortunately, at this season in my life gardening takes a back seat. The weeds grow, but… so does the food. So, I’m okay with it.
If you’re thinking about starting a fall garden, you should be hopping to it soon. The weather will soon be cooling off for most of us (I sure hope) and then we all know what that brings. Cold, frigid, fighting through that white stuff that piles onto the earth ever winter. And we’ll all be praying for these warm days again haha.
If you’re wondering what the best fall garden vegetables are you should be throwing out there this year, I’ve got you covered. Most of this you’ll want to start inside, some you’ll direct sow, and one crop you won’t even harvest until next year. But, you’ll love it, because nothing beats homegrown. Let’s get started.
9 Fall Garden Vegetables to Plant This Fall
Bush beans are my favorite variety. I currently have some trellis beans that have a mind of their own and have clung on to every single thing they can find. My bush beans, surprisingly, didn’t fare well this year. But, they’re still my favorite. Less mess, they’re pretty prolific, and blue lake cans up (or freezes) the best of all of the varieties.
When to Plant: You’ll want to start these indoors about 3-4 weeks in advance. They’ll need a total of 10-12 weeks before the first expected frost to produce. While fall bush beans are a fantastic and prolific crop, they are a little slower to produce than spring bush beans. If the weather turns cold earlier than expected, you can cover them to protect your crop.
Is it me or are beets one of those love it or hate it kind of veggies? They’re far from my favorite, but I know people love them. I absolutely love their color and I love watching their greens pop up out of the soil. Maybe I’m just not making them right, but they are one of the only root vegetables I just don’t care much for. So, we only plant a few of these. They are a great, quick growing, fall crop, though!
When to Plant: You can direct sow these and you’ll want to do so about 10-12 weeks before first frost. They’re pretty hardy since they’re a root veggie. Beets can be harvested any time you like, the larger they are, the more woody they’ll taste. Do not let the greens get above 6 inches before you harvest. They are slightly frost tolerant, so if you can get them dug out of the ground when ready to harvest, you’ll be good.
Cabbage loves fall. Especially after the weird spring we had (wait, what spring). A lot of people had a heck of a time with their cold crops because it seemed like everything went from frozen to 100 degrees overnight and everyone’s cold crops suffered. So, if you didn’t get your fill of cabbage, or you just want more, fall is a fantastic time to plant it. Much, much, less likely to bolt if you plant it when the weather is starting to get cool instead of the opposite in spring time.
When to Plant: Believe it or not, cabbage can stand freezing temps all the way down to 20 degrees. There are some varieties available that can be grown through the winter in certain zones as well. However, you’ll want to start these indoors about 10 weeks before your first frost. Once they’re about 3 weeks old and have a few leaves, you can put them outside. Like I said, they can withstand freezing, so unlike beans you won’t have to worry too much as long as you can get out and harvest them.
If you’ve never grown your own garlic, you’re missing out. The store bought stuff does not compare, at all. I don’t know what that stuff in the store is, but the stuff that comes straight out of your own backyard? Yeah, that is garlic my friends. Fall is when you start your own garlic crop. It’s incredibly easy to grow (even for beginners). However, you will not be harvesting this crop until next year. Patience is a virtue.
When to Plant: This is probably the last crop you’ll plant in the fall. You’ll want to plant it after the soil temperature reaches 50°F. Generally 2-3 weeks before your first expected frost, but that’s only a guide. As long as you get it in before the ground freezes, you’re good. You won’t do much with it but let it overwinter, harvest the scrapes, let it brown, harvest next fall, cure, eat. Tada!
This is another one of those love it or hate it vegetables, isn’t it? I, personally, love them. They’re like miniature cabbages and perfect with béchamel sauce poured over top. I always make some during the holidays, despite the fact my husband can’t stand my miniature cabbages. But, that’s okay. I like them, so I indulge in the Brussel sprouts goodness from time to time and he can have broccoli.
When to Plant: You’ll need to give these plenty of time to grow. However, they are incredibly hardy and can even take a bit of snow on them. In fact, you’ll want to wait until they get a frost on them before you harvest them, it makes them taste better. You can direct sow them about 12 weeks before your first expected frost unless you live in a particularly hot zone, you may want to start them indoors a few weeks before transplanting.
It got hot so quickly this year my spring broccoli crop did nothing. And I mean, nothing. I was so sad because I absolutely love broccoli. However, you can grow this cold crop in the fall, too. In fact, it doesn’t like the heat, at all, so fall is the best time for it to grow. Then, you can eat fresh or freeze and enjoy for later! I love having some in our freezer for later in the winter when we’re really craving a green vegetable.
When to Plant: Start your broccoli indoors about 12 weeks before first frost. Transplant them outside about 3 weeks later. The plants can withstand some frost. You do need to make sure they’re watered consistently. You’ll have no broccoli if it’s too dry. So, if we have a wet fall, it will be happy. If not, you need to yank out the hose on the daily and give them a drink.
My spinach also did nothing this year. Well, I put it in the ground and about 3 seconds later (I’m not even joking) bolted. Plenty of spinach seeds to harvest and go around, though! Anyway, spinach likes the cold, too. As long as you get your plant mature, it can even survive some winter (with a row cover). You can harvest the outer leaves and it will continue to produce for you.
When to Plant: Spinach doesn’t take too long to grow and it loves the cooler weather of fall. You can start them outside about 6 weeks before your expected frost and actually have a chance to enjoy some yummy sautéed spinach when the weather gets frigid.
My lettuce didn’t grow either. Anyone noticing a theme here? It’s the weather, I tell ya. I couldn’t get out because the ground was still a frozen rock and then bam! It was so hot you couldn’t stand to be out more than 5 minutes. And dry, it was so dry earlier this summer. Now, now we’re getting rain. Such is life. Like most cold crops, lettuce grows really well in the fall. In fact, I think I might just start growing all of this stuff in the fall and forget about trying to get an early crop from now on.
When to Plant: Lettuce likes it cool. Not cold, mind you, but cool. Anything over 75 degrees and it isn’t happy, but it doesn’t take freezing either. I’d say 65 is probably lettuces favorite temperature. Anyway, on to the task at hand. You’ll want to start these about 6 weeks before the first frost. Enjoy.
Peas can be difficult to grow, especially in the fall. You’re likely for it to either be a late, hot summer or it gets too cold too quick. Either of these situations results in finicky, non-prolific peas. Peas are just all around kind of finicky, come to think of it. I love peas, though. So, to me it’s worth it to try and see if I get anywhere. They do not like heat, at all. They’ll be worthless non-productive plants if it’s too hot. They can handle a bit of frost, if the plants are mature, though.
When to Plant: You’ll want to start your plants about 10-12 weeks before the first expected frost. I start mine indoors, but it’s just a personal preference. You don’t have to, but it helps when the heat of the summer is hanging on. They do need plenty of water, like broccoli and if it’s still in the depths of the dog days of summer, you can try shading them. That’s why I start my plants inside, though.