Plant care and cultivation

What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall?

María Belén Acosta
By María Belén Acosta, Landscape and Horticultural Technician. October 3, 2023
What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall?

As summer draws to a close, many gardeners are wondering what to plant in fall. Fall is a great time to plant in your garden, especially if you live in a climate with mild winters. Many vegetables and leafy greens can be planted in the fall and harvested throughout the winter months.

In this article from The Daily Eco, we will provide you with a list of some of the best vegetables and leafy greens to sow and transplant during the fall season.

You may also be interested in: How to Plant and Grow Chayote Squash
  1. What to grow in fall?
  2. What to transplant in fall?
  3. Fall gardening tips

What to grow in fall?

As the days grow shorter and the weather becomes more unpredictable, many orchards wind down their summer production. Autumn, with its mix of cool and warm spells and varying rainfall, might seem like a season of rest for the garden. However, don't be fooled. It's a prime time to plant some crops:

Garlic (Allium sativum)

If you've never tasted homegrown garlic, you're in for a treat. Plant it between October and November, and you'll see it sprout in winter, thrive in spring, and be ready to harvest by late spring or early summer.

  • Choose well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Garlic likes loose, fertile soil.

  • Space individual cloves about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) apart in rows that are 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) apart.

  • Plant cloves about 2 inches (5 cm) deep with the pointed end up.

  • A layer of mulch, like straw or leaves, can help protect garlic from cold snaps.

Onions (Allium cepa)

Onions, the kitchen's unsung heroes, find their home in the soil from September to October. In areas without harsh frost, you can even plant them later.

  • Choose a well-drained soil with a pH of around 6-7 works best for onions.

  • Place onion sets (small bulbs) about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep and 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) apart in rows.

  • Depending on when you harvest, you can enjoy bulb onions or their green tops (like scallions).

Lamb's lettuce or corn salad (Valerianella locusta)

This leafy green is a nutrition powerhouse. But in other to thrive, it needs nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Amend your garden bed with compost for extra fertility.

While it tolerates partial shade, it prefers as much sunlight as possible during the day.

Sow seeds sparingly, about 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) deep and 2 inches (5 cm) apart. You can thin seedlings as they grow.

Lamb's lettuce matures in about eight weeks. Harvest the whole plant or just a few leaves as needed.

Carrots (Daucus carota)

Carrots are a year-round favorite, except in frost-prone regions. With autumn's mild conditions in many places, there's no reason not to grow these nutrient-packed veggies.

  • Loose, sandy loam soil is ideal for carrots. Avoid soil with stones or hard clumps.

  • Sow carrot seeds about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) apart, and thin them to 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) apart once they sprout.

  • Keep the soil consistently moist for even root growth.

  • Mulch helps retain soil moisture and prevents soil from crusting, which can hinder carrot growth.

So, even as autumn settles in, your garden can keep producing some delicious treasures. Have you ever wondered why plant stems bend? Discover the fascinating science behind phototropism in this other article.

What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall? - What to grow in fall?

What to transplant in fall?

We've mentioned the plants you can grow directly in your garden if you live in a mild climate, but there are other options, such as transplanting. What to plant or transplant in fall? Here are some of the best species to start in seedbeds and move to their final location in the fall.

Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis)

Cauliflower is among the top candidates for fall seedlings. With some early preparation, you can transplant cauliflower between late summer and autumn, allowing you to enjoy it well before the main harvest.

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

While lettuce can be cultivated year-round, autumn is an excellent time to relocate seedlings to their final growing spot before the arrival of harsh frosts. Lettuce can tolerate mild frosts, particularly when it's in its young stages, but it's advisable to protect it from freezing temperatures. Likewise, extreme summer heat isn't suitable for lettuce.

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

Spinach can be directly sown in the autumn, but by preparing seedlings in advance, you can expedite the entire growing process and optimize your garden space. This method allows you to enjoy your first spinach harvest as early as December.

Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cycla)

Chard, often known as Swiss chard, thrives when planted during autumn, especially as the days grow shorter. This change in daylight hours greatly benefits its growth. Under favorable conditions, you can expect to have chard leaves ready for your dishes and salads in approximately 8 weeks.

Other vegetables and greens to plant in autumn

  • Peas
  • Parsnip
  • Arugula
  • Borage
  • Cabbage
  • Romanesque
  • Celery
  • Endives
  • Radishes
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Turnip greens
  • Dandelion
  • Chicory
  • Red cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pak Choi
  • Leeks

Learn the difference between compost and fertilizer and how to use them to grow the healthiest plants in this other article.

What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall? - What to transplant in fall?

Fall gardening tips

In addition to making informed choices about the plant species and varieties for your fall garden, there are several essential tips to ensure your garden thrives during this season:

  • Weed management: clear the garden of weeds well in advance of planting. This proactive approach reduces weed competition for nutrients and minimizes the need for constant weeding, allowing your chosen plants to flourish.

  • Beneficial legumes: consider planting broad beans and peas in your fall garden. These legumes not only yield delicious produce but also enrich the soil with essential nutrients, contributing significantly to maintaining a healthy crop rotation.

  • Aromatic allies: incorporate aromatic plants into your garden plan. Many aromatic herbs can be cultivated year-round and serve as excellent natural pest repellents. Plant them along the garden's edges to help deter pests and enhance overall garden health.

  • Protective ground cover: utilize ground cover methods such as mulching, applying organic manure, or adding compost. These techniques offer insulation for the soil, shielding plant roots from the increasingly cold temperatures and providing essential nutrients for growth.

  • Mindful watering: be mindful of your garden's water requirements. While fall typically brings more moisture, it's essential to monitor soil moisture levels. Ensure your plants receive adequate hydration, especially during dry spells, to support healthy growth.

  • Crop rotation: implement a crop rotation strategy to prevent soil depletion and reduce the risk of disease and pest infestations. Plan your garden layout carefully, ensuring you rotate crops effectively to maintain soil fertility.

  • Frost protection: keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for potential frosts. Cover vulnerable plants with frost cloths or blankets overnight to safeguard them from freezing temperatures.

  • Regular inspection: regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or disease. Early detection allows for timely intervention and prevents issues from spreading.

  • Harvest timely: harvest crops promptly when they reach maturity to encourage continuous growth and maintain optimal flavor and texture.

By following these gardening tips and considering the specific needs of your chosen plants, you can enjoy a productive and thriving fall garden.

You might also be interested in our article on the most popular fall fruits.

If you want to read similar articles to What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall?, we recommend you visit our Plant care and cultivation category.

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What are the best vegetables and leafy greens to plant in fall?