Did you think planting season was over? It doesn’t have to be! There are loads of fall vegetables that can continue producing well into the winter months, but you have to start planting soon.
Fall Hardy Vegetables
Squash and Pumpkin
This fall favorite is the answer to all those autumn and winter comfort foods we love, like soups and casseroles. Squash is also a great source of Vitamin A and a range of minerals, so don’t hesitate to incorporate it into any meal! Summer squash does prefer hotter weather, so plant it now to take advantage of the late summer heat. Winter squash like pumpkin can be planted about 14 weeks before the first frost.
- Soil: Make sure soil is loose and well-draining with lots of organic matter.
- Water: Keep soil moist at all times but try not to wet the leaves or fruit. Never let the soil dry out completely but don’t log the roots down with water.
- Sun: Full sun is best.
- Fertilizer: An organic compost is the best food for squash. Mix it into the soil before planting and, every two weeks after sprouting, feed the squash with compost tea – a handful of compost steeped in a gallon of water.
- Harvest: When the skin is easily pierced with a fingernail, the squash is ready to harvest. Cut the stem two inches above the fruit and enjoy while fresh.
Kale and Spinach
These are two of our favorite leafy greens; both are packed with an impressive variety of minerals and vitamins. Since they need similar care requirements, the two greens grow well alongside each other, even in the same plot. Plant as late as eight weeks before the first frost, and in milder climates these greens may continue to produce well into winter.
- Soil: Nitrogen-rich soil with organic compost mixed in.
- Water: Keep the soil moist but never soggy – several times per week in sunny weather.
- Sun: For a fall or early winter harvest, full sun is preferred.
- Fertilizer: Spinach and kale usually only need one feeding with a rich compost about six weeks after sprouting or transplanting.
- Harvest: You can begin harvesting spinach leaves when they are four to seven inches long and kale when the leaves reach 10 inches long. Pick the outer leaves a few at a time in order to allow the plant to keep producing for many weeks to come.
One of the garden’s most versatile little vegetables, Brussels sprouts can be incorporated into soups and salads, served as a side dish, or even dressed up as a vegetarian main course. The best part is that they are a good plant source of harder-to-find nutrients like folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Brussels sprouts are a cold-hardy vegetable and will continue growing well into winter; however, since they take over three months to mature, you’ll want to get them in the ground now.
- Soil: Rich soil with high organic content; a good compost mix is ideal.
- Water: Keep Brussels sprouts well-watered; the soil should be moist but not soggy and never dry.
- Sun: In warmer climates, partial sun is best; but Brussels sprouts can withstand full sun (6+ hours per day) in cooler weather.
- Fertilizer: Use an organic compost or fertilizer about once a month.
- Harvest: You can begin harvesting when the lower sprouts reach the size of large marbles. It is best to harvest before they grow too large, or the flavor may suffer.
There’s a reason your mother told you to eat your peas. English peas bring a unique blend of protein, vitamins, and minerals – a great combo for growing bodies! Just remember that this cool-weather favorite will not fruit in high temperatures. Plant them about 12 weeks before the first frost so that the hottest days of summer have passed before they begin to flower.
- Soil: Well-draining loamy soil with plenty of organic matter.
- Water: Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.
- Sun: In cool weather, English peas enjoy lots of direct sunlight. If the weather is very warm, partial shade serves better.
- Fertilizer: As long as there is plenty of organic matter in the soil, peas do not need feeding.
- Harvest: Peas may be ready to harvest as soon as three weeks after the flowers bloom. Once you think they are ready, test them by opening a pod and checking the size and texture of the seeds inside. When they reach the desired size and exhibit a crisp, sweet flavor, they are ready to harvest.
Turnips are often overlooked, but they are a powerhouse of nutrients – the Vitamin B complex, protein, and a range of minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and iron. Plant them any time in late summer for a fall harvest.
- Soil: Any well-draining soil will do.
- Water: Keep a light moisture at all times.
- Sun: Full sun is preferred.
- Fertilizer: A light fertilizer high in phosphorous and magnesium (not nitrogen) can be mixed into the soil a few weeks after sprouting.
- Harvest: For turnip greens, harvest the tops once they grow four to six inches in height. If you don’t damage the bulb, they should continue growing. The root may be harvested once the bulb reaches two or three inches in length. Turnips are sweeter and more tender while they are small.
It may look like lettuce, but cabbage is actually closer to vegetables like broccoli in species and nutritional content. With a power combo of antioxidants and important minerals, cabbage makes a healthy addition to salads, soups, and side dishes. Since cabbage can take almost three months to mature, plant it now for an early winter harvest.
- Soil: Mix plenty of compost into any well-draining soil.
- Water: Water deeply once a week or more often in higher temperatures. Let the top inch of soil dry between waterings.
- Sun: Full sun, about six to eight hours per day.
- Fertilizer: Feed with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer when seedlings reach about six inches in height and once more when a noticeable cabbage head forms.
- Harvest: Harvest the cabbage head once it reaches your ideal size and firmness. If you leave the outer leaves and stem intact, the plant will grow additional, smaller cabbages that are perfect for salads.
It may not be every child’s favorite vegetable, but by now you’re aware of the incredible health benefits of broccoli. Folic acid, iron, calcium, and antioxidants are all part of this veggie’s nutritional makeup. Plant broccoli about 12 weeks before the first frost.
- Soil: Rich, slightly acidic soil.
- Water: Keep soil moist but not soggy.
- Sun: Full sun, six hours per day or more.
- Fertilizer: Use organic fertilizer or rich compost about five weeks after the plants sprout.
- Harvest: Cut broccoli heads off at an angle with about six inches of stem attached. Leave the remainder of the stem and leaves intact to allow the plant to continue producing smaller heads for weeks to come.
Better get planting! The window for planting some of the vegetables above is quite short. To read more about natural gardening, check out the Living Clean blog: