Fall is a good time to plant vegetables that can handle cooler temperatures. While some summer vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and squash continue to grow and produce into the early fall, these plants are not frost tolerant and typically begin to die back as temperatures drop toward freezing. Other plants, however, such as greens, root crops, cruciform vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and bulbs such as onions, thrive in this season.
Many leafy green vegetables are frost resistant and grow well in the fall. These include mustard, collard and turnip greens, spinach, kale, lettuce and other salad greens, and parsley. Some people consider greens, such as mustard and collard greens, to taste sweeter and less bitter after they have been affected by frost. These vegetables mature relatively quickly in 30 to 60 days.
Root crop vegetables, such as beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes and carrots also work well for fall gardens. The roots of these vegetables are frost tolerant and continue to grow into the colder months of the season. Some of these plants, including beets, turnips and radishes, are harvestable in 30 to 60 days. Others, such as carrots, may take up to 80 days to mature.
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are among the cruciform vegetables that are frost tolerant. These vegetables are typically planted as early in the season as possible, as they frequently require more than 80 days to mature. While larger leaves of these vegetables may be adversely affected by hard freezes, the heads of the plants usually remain fresh and edible well after this time.
Many bulbs also grow well in the fall and can handle cold temperatures below freezing. Plant onions, garlic, leeks and shallots early in the season, usually 60 to 90 days before the predicted time of the first frost. These plants grow through the fall and can be left in the ground well after the first freeze occurs.
- Texas A&M University: Aggie Horticulture: Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden
- North Carolina State University: N.C. Cooperative Extension Service: Growing the Fall Vegetable Garden
- University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service: Fall Vegetable Gardens
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: The Fall Vegetable Garden