The Best Veggies and Herbs to Grow in the Fall

Fall is a great time for vegetable gardening; here's a list of what to plant in late summer. 

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I’ll be honest — this summer gardening season has been a near bust. I planted late, and then it quickly got hot and wet here in Tennessee. In past years, I’ve harvested and posted photos of colorful tomatoes and peppers so bountiful that Martha would be jealous, but this year, not so much. No worries, though, because there’s always fall, my favorite gardening season of the year, and I’m starting my fall garden planning now.

Why Is Fall Gardening So Great?

Let me count the ways. It’s cooler, so you’re not watering your garden with your own sweat. (I know, gross.) And speaking of water, that cooler weather means less evaporation, so you’re watering more efficiently too. Edibles that grow in fall aren’t typically eaten for their fruit, but for their leaves and roots instead, and that’s an easier job for the plants. Fall gardens are generally less susceptible to pests, diseases and general problems than summer gardens.

The Official Lettuce Waterer

The Official Lettuce Waterer

When Daron isn’t busy managing Farmer D Organics, he likes to spend time in the garden with Tilden, his two-year-old son who “loves to water lettuce, add food scraps to the compost pile, eat broccoli straight off the stalk, and generally get as dirty as possible.” 

Photo by: Image courtesy of Farmer D Organics

Image courtesy of Farmer D Organics

What Can You Plant in the Fall?

My favorites to eat are beets, radishes, garlic, cilantro, kale and other greens, so that’s what I’ll be planting first, but here’s a more comprehensive list of vegetables and herbs you can grow in your fall garden.

Veggies

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • Greens (collards, mustard, etc.)
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce (all kinds — look for cold tolerant varieties that will last until winter)
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Spinach
Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Broccoli has a beauty all its own.

Herbs (all of these are perennial and can survive a mild winter)

  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
english thyme makes great groundcover

english thyme makes great groundcover

How Should You Plant?
I use a mix of seeds and transplants for planting in fall (and any time of year for that matter). Here’s that same list divided by seed and transplant. Many of the plants I’ve listed under the transplant section can be grown from seed, but with frost looming, growth time is a major factor, so I suggest planting fast growers from seed and slower growers from transplant.

Grow From Seed

  • Beets
  • Chives
  • Greens (collards, mustard, etc.)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce (all kinds — look for cold tolerant varieties that will last until winter)
  • Parsnips
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
Mature Beets Ready to Be Harvested

Mature Beets Ready to Be Harvested

Direct sow beet seeds in late April to mid July. Beets will not produce roots if planted when the soil is too cold. Seeds will germinate in 5 to 12 days, depending on soil temperature.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant From Transplant

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic (bulb/clove)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Thyme
Walcheran Winter Armado April Cauliflower

Walcheran Winter Armado April Cauliflower

Cauliflower, Walcheren Winter, Armado April, is a winter cropping variety. It comes through the harshest of winters to give good quality, deep white curds in March and April. Highly recommended.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

When Should You Plant Fall Vegetables?
Mid to late August is the best time to plant. I’ll have some hard decisions to make — take out and compost my sad peppers, eggplant and tomatoes to make room for fall planting? Or give them a chance to thrive for a while in cooler weather? Space is limited in my garden, so not everyone can stay. At this point, I’m betting on a couple tomatoes plus some okra and beans, but the rest of my droopy summer garden will be replaced with fresh plants for fall and a new season of garden promise will begin. 

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