Vegetable Garden

10 Fall vegetables to plant in early autumn

After harvesting your summer crops, you might be wondering what to plant next. Depending on where you live, the fall season can be a great time to plant many cool weather crops that thrive without the harsh heat and direct sunlight of summer. There are so many wonderful leafy greens and root vegetables that will flourish in the fall. Here are 10 fall vegetables to plant in early autumn to maximize your garden this year!


1. Carrots

Carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) are a root vegetable known for their distinctive orange color (or purple, or red, depending upon the variety). They can be grown in both the spring and fall (and there are lots of different types of carrots to choose from!).

In the fall, these root crops should be planted 10 to 12 weeks before the first frost. You can then harvest them both in winter and in spring. However, if you want them to grow in significant size over winter, a polytunnel or greenhouse is your best bet. Placing a cold frame over them will reduce the risk of the soil rotting and make them much easier to dig up when desired.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is an annual plant from the Asteraceae family. It’s the perfect crop to grow in cooler weather because full sun exposure (especially in the summer heat) can burn its leaves and make them bolt. For this reason, partial shade is preferred over direct sunlight when planting and growing lettuce if you want to achieve the best results.

Lettuce seeds can be saved from early spring plants for planting in late summer or early fall. Some great varieties of heirloom lettuce for seed-saving include marvel of four seasons lettuce, black-seeded Simpson lettuce, and buttercrunch lettuce.

3. Kale 

Kale, a leaf cabbage, is a cruciferous vegetable from the Brassica oleracea family. If you’re looking to grow this popular and nutritious salad staple, it will fit right in with your other fall garden vegetables. Kale is known to do well in cool temperatures and has even withstood impressive winter temperatures as low as eight degrees. The best time to sow kale seeds is about six weeks before the first frost date. 

4. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are also a member of the Brassica oleracea family and are considered cabbage plants making them great for growing in early fall. You will often find these in your average grocery store but not as often in home garden beds. This is because they can be tricky to grow and take a longer period of time to harvest (80 to 100 days). These are another cool-season crop so they can easily withstand the cooler temperatures. Given its long growing season, consider a row cover to help deter pests (such as birds). Are you up for the challenge?

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is from the Brassica oleracea species and is a part of the cabbage family. Cool-season vegetables like broccoli are best for fall planting because when they mature in lower temperatures, the head will taste sweeter. Higher temperatures can cause bitterness, smaller florets, and loose heads to form. Broccoli loves the sun so be sure to plant it in a sunnier area and ensure the soil is well-drained. If you keep it both moist and rich—you should have healthy, tasty, and full heads of broccoli in roughly two to three months. When growing through cold winter months, row covers will help protect your heads but some claim they will be fine with or without.

6. Cauliflower

Like Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, and Kale, Cauliflower is also from the Brassica oleracea family. Cauliflower is great for planting in early autumn because they need to be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost. They do like the sun but need to be protected from too much heat as it’s a cool-weather crop for a reason. Like broccoli, cauliflower loves moisture when germinating and growing. Adding mulch will help conserve moisture for both plans. 

7. Garlic

Garlic is a bulb-shaped flowering plant that’s a part of the onion family. They are both close relatives to leeks, chives, and scallions. For many, garlic is an essential ingredient in various cooked dishes because of its strong flavor and aroma. These unique properties (and many more) make it a very popular vegetable to grow! One of its most unique qualities is that it can survive the cold winter months—making late fall an optimal time to plant. By spring you will have root development that has taken shape and will help your crop grow faster and better.

8. Radishes

Radishes (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) are brightly-colored root vegetables that are often eaten raw in salads and are known for their strong flavor. Planting radishes four to six weeks before the first frost will assist in a successful fall harvest. There are different varieties, some larger while others are smaller, so this will depend on how far apart and how deep you plant them. They love the sun and need loamy, moist, and well-drained soil to thrive.

9. Beets

Beets (Beta vulgaris) are the edible taproots of a beet plant. Beets are great to grow in early autumn. It’s best to start planting them four to six weeks before the first fall frost. You can also plant them in late autumn for a winter harvest as well. Beets can thrive in both full and partial sun but need moist, loamy, and well-drained soil to grow a successful crop.

10. Fava Beans

Fava beans come from a flowering plant in the Fabaceae family. It’s also known as a cover crop which is often used to improve the soil health of one’s garden, smother weeds, and help control pests and plant diseases. Fall is the perfect time to plant them because they do well in cold temperatures and don’t need full sun to thrive. The great thing about fava beans is that they will germinate quickly under these circumstances. 

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