Sweet strawberries, juicy tomatoes and sugar snap peas right off the vine—there's truly nothing like the bounty of a summer garden. But just because autumn's days are cooler and the hours of sunlight are waning doesn't mean your days of fresh food are over. There are plenty of vegetables that can be planted in the fall that will provide fresh food during the winter months. Don't miss your opportunity to imbibe fresh and healthy vegetables this winter—plant these fall favorites today.
Perfect for adding flavor to a warm soup or stew, onions do great over the winter with very little protection. Place seeds or tiny onion bulbs in the ground in August or September, and these onions will be ready to harvest in the spring. Extreme cold can kill the onions, so cover your raised beds with mulch or lay plastic over the bulbs to protect them from the harshest winter temperatures.
To reap a bounty in the warm summer months it's necessary to plant your garlic in the fall or the early winter. For best results, plant it about two weeks before the first anticipated frost of the season in a sunny spot. If you live in an area with temperatures that dip under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, cover the bulbs. The great news about garlic is that the bulbs you plant in the fall and harvest in the summer can be preserved and used all winter long.
Perfect in salads and smoothies, kale is a superfood that can be harvest late into the fall until the ground freezes. To reap a fall harvest, plant kale in your summer garden. To preserve the life of the plant, mulch the soil around your kale after the first freeze of the fall. If the plant is protected, it can continue to produce leaves through the winter, providing fresh and healthy food through the coldest days of the year.
Capable of surviving frost during the fall and winter months, Brussels sprouts are a great cold-weather crop. To enjoy a fall harvest, plant them between May and June. Depending on the zone you live in, it's also possible to harvest Brussels sprouts all year long, even through the darkest days of winter.
Lettuce loves the cool weather, and that's what makes it a great autumn crop. To get the most out of your lettuce harvest, look for varieties that do especially well in cool temperatures and low sunlight (many of these varieties can be identified by name alone, such as "Arctic King" and "Winter Marvel"). Start by sowing seeds indoors and then transplant the seeds outdoors. They'll thrive in the cool-weather seasons of fall, late winter and early spring.
Another cold hardy green, mature spinach plants do great in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants mature in about 40 days, so spinach planted in the cool fall temperatures can be harvested in late fall or early winter and will keep producing providing extreme cold snaps don't kill the plant off. If that happens, wait until late winter and plant again.
Carrots can be harvested in the fall and winter, providing a sweet touch to hardy winter meals. To have a fresh crop of cold-weather carrots, sow seeds in the ground 10 to 12 weeks before your first anticipated fall frost. In most areas of the country, carrots can be grown year round. If the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, cover the carrots with plastic tunnels.
Chard grows great during the summer and winter. The leafy green can tolerate frost and temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. For fall and winter harvests of chard, plant seeds about 40 days before the first anticipated autumn frost.
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