23 Vegetables You Should Be Planting This Fall
Are you looking for some veggies you can add to your garden this fall? Fall crops are important when it comes to maximizing the yield in your garden each season. In this article, gardening expert and former organic farmer Logan Hailey examines her favorite fall crops you can plant this season!
As gardens begin to fade from summer’s glory, savvy growers are extending the season with fall vegetables. In fact, fall can be a very busy time of year for diversified vegetable farmers as they establish a diversity of nutritious produce for winter and spring harvests.
As someone who has farmed in nearly every region in the U.S., I can confidently say that your fall garden options may be more diverse than you think!
It is a common misconception that spring and early summer are the only times for planting a garden. In reality, you can plant veggies all the way through the autumn. September, October, and November are the ideal time for cool-season crops like roots, greens, brassicas, and everyone’s favorite-– garlic!
There is a surprising abundance of colorful autumn veggies for nearly every growing zone. Let’s dig into the top 23 beginner-friendly vegetables for your fall garden!
What Veggies Can You Plant in Autumn?
Fall-planted veggies are perfect for holiday harvests, cold storage, or overwintering. If you have season extension devices like cold frames, hoop houses, mulches, or frost protection fabric, you may have even more options for autumn vegetable gardening. Depending on your growing zone, you can plant:
Zones 4 and 5
Cold hardy brassicas and storage roots will be ready for frost-sweetened harvests before heavy snowfalls hit. You also have a moderate window of time for quick-growing baby spinach, lettuce, and other cool-weather greens.
Zones 6 through 8
You can enjoy crisp lettuces, tender salad greens, and sweet spinach through light frosts. Fall is also the perfect time for planting winter roots like carrots, radishes, turnips and beets. You can’t forget winter-sweetened brassicas like kale, cabbage, and broccoli.
Zones 9 and warmer
Cool-season crops can be grown almost year-round. Fall is ideal for adding new successions of greens, peas, onions, roots, and herbs.
There are also several herbs like parsley, cilantro, and peppery cress that love the autumn chill. And you can’t forget garlic! Aside from hot subtropical climates, garlic is traditionally planted in mid to late October in most U.S. gardens. You can enjoy an abundant harvest of spicy bulbs the following summer.
The garden doesn’t have to die down once the temperatures have cooled and summer crops like tomatoes or squash have begun to wither. While there are plenty of fall gardening tasks to dive into, there’s still plenty of veggies you can plant.
As leaves begin to fall and nights get chilly, there is a surprising abundance of nutritious ingredients you can grow for winter meals and early spring harvests. Put on some boots, grab some hot cocoa, and get these cool-season veggies in the ground before it’s too late!
With its spicy aroma and rugged resilience, garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow. It operates on the opposite time frame of most garden veggies— you plant it in the fall and harvest it in the summer. The rest of the time it just hangs out underground (preferably beneath a generous layer of straw mulch) and bulbs up without needing much attention from you at all.
In zones 5 through 7, garlic is traditionally planted in October. Growers in zones 8 and 9 typically wait until November or December.
Garlic is a true lover of cold weather. In fact, most varieties actually need a prolonged period of chilly temps (called vernalization) to develop hefty, easy-to-cut bulbs. Northern growers should opt for hardneck varieties that can chill under the frost and snow of winter.
Southern growers should opt for softneck varieties that don’t need the cold treatment of vernalization. Alternatively, you can pre-chill their seed garlic in the refrigerator.
Remember, you should never peel seed garlic! You want to keep as many layers of “papers” as possible to help the clove grow into a full-size garlic bulb. Check out our full guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Garlic!
Pro Tip: Be sure to source quality, disease-free seed garlic from a reputable source. You don’t want to plant any rotten or infected cloves. Before planting, I like to soak the “seed” cloves in water with a dash of diluted apple cider vinegar and liquid kelp solution. This helps kill off any pathogens and give the garlic a quick energy boost before they go in the ground.
Most people don’t realize that carrots get their characteristic sweetness from cold weather. Perhaps that’s why summer grocery store carrots taste about as flavorless as cardboard. If you want to enjoy the most deliciously candy-like carrots, plant them in the fall and harvest throughout the winter!
Carrots prefer to be out of the heat and thrive in the cold. As one of the most versatile garden veggies, you can grow carrots in zones 2 through 11.
When planted in Octboer through November, they can establish during the cooler weather when there is typically plenty of rain to keep them evenly moist.
Some carrots can overwinter in the ground and you can go pull them up as needed. Others are best harvested after a the first light freezes of winter. It’s best to snap off their greens and store them in ventilated bags in the fridge. Search for seed varieties labled “overwintering” or “storage carrots” to ensure you have a type that is adapted to your preferences.
Pro Tip: Storage carrots typically grow slower and require more drainage than their spring counterparts. Ensure that you thoroughly loosen the soil with a broadfork and add plenty of compost to improve water filtration through the autumn rains. After the seeds germinate, make sure that you thin to ¾-2” apart, depending on your desired root size. Row fabric laid atop emerging carrots can help protect them from extreme frosts and conserve moisture.
Although spinach salads sound super refreshing in the summer heat, this tender green loves the cold. Autumn spinach has more sweetness and bolt-resistance than spring and summer greens. Plus, it can be harvested just 30 days from the time of seeding!
Fall spinach can be sown in late summer and picked throughout the fall. Gardeners in zones 6 and warmer can often overwinter spinach without protection. The greens can even regenerate from beneath a blanket of snow!
To prolong your harvest, be sure to snap outer leaves first and keep the center growing point intact so the plant can keep producing new leaves.
Pro Tip: If you love spinach, seed a new succession every 7-10 days throughout September, October, and November. Frost hardy varieties like ‘Corvair’, ‘Hammerhead’, ‘Emperor’ can thrive under cold frames and row cover in cold climates. If it seems that your spinach growth has slowed or stopped, wait until early spring and you may be pleasantly surprised by new growth.
These round, hardy roots are tolerant of moderate frosts and produce nice edible greens to spice up fall dishes. Quick-growing “salad turnip” types can grow to radish-size in under 40 days.
Larger “purple top” types average 50 to 60 days to maturity. Both varieties are sweetened by the cold thanks to an accumulation of plant sugars in the roots.
If you plant turnips in early autumn, you can harvest into the late fall after the first few light freezes. For storage, you can dig up the plants, remove the greens, and store the roots in a cooler at 32-40° for 4-6 months. Pull them out as needed for stews, roasts, and soups.
Onions and Scallions
Whether you prefer green onions or full-sized bulbs, these pungent alliums readily tolerate the cold. Onions are fairly hardy and can withstand temperatures down to about 20°F. You can use row cover or deep mulches to encourage them to go dormant over the winter and re-sprout in the spring.
Overwintered onions are best planted in August or September. You can also pull them sooner for holiday recipes. Start with seeds, transplants, or “onion sets” for a quicker reward. Seed them about 1” apart in rows that are 6” apart.
Once they’re 6-12” tall, use a knife to individually harvest green onions (scallions) for your autumn meals. This process will increase the spacing to 3-4” apart to allow the remaining plants to grow into full-size onions.
Whether you prefer sugar snap, snow peas, or shelling peas, these legumes love chilly weather. Once they’re rooted in place, they can handle temperatures slightly below freezing. However, they realy prefer the 45 to 65°F range for optimal growth.
Peas should be planted 8-10 weeks before your first frost so they have time to flower and start “podding” up. This is typically between August and October. Light frosts and snows won’t damage the peas, but heavy freezes will.
Pro Tip: For more abundant fall pea harvests, start the seeds indoors in late summer and transplant into the garden once they are 3-5” tall. This will allow your sugar snaps to take off quickly and start producing tasty snap peas within 1-2 months. For extra cold climates, Austrian winter peas are among the most frost-resilient types.
Radishes aren’t particularly frost-hardy but they do grow fast, which makes them perfect for sneaking into the empty spaces of your fall garden. These red roots also come in purple, white, pink, yellow, and even black (hello spicy Spanish radishes)!
Direct seed radishes about 4-6 weeks before your expected first frost. They can tolerate down to 20-30°F, but prefer to get established in a mild 40-70°F temperature range. Cover fall radishes with row cover to protect them from flea beetles and unexpected cold snaps.
Pro Tip: Choose daikon and “watermelon” radish types for the best fall root harvests. My favorite cultivars are ‘KN Bravo’, ‘Summit’, and ‘Red Meat’. While regular red salad types are nice in the spring, these larger varieties are more robust and dense. They also make great additions to fall fermentations like kimchi and sauerkraut.
Northern growers may prefer to harvest autumn radishes before hard frosts, remove the greens, and store in the refrigerator for winter use. Southern growers can hold them in the garden and pull as needed (just don’t let them get too oversized!)
Beets are semi-hardy and enjoy the cool weather of both spring and fall. They are members of the Chenopodiaceae family along with chard and spinach. You can seed beets (or even transplant them) throughout the fall until about 10 weeks before your first heavy freeze.
If the ground freezes too hard, you may risk the roots splitting, rotting, or reduced storage time. However, light frosts are just fine and even yield sweeter roots (red velvet beet brownies anyone?)
Beets can be dug in late autumn, washed, and stored for up to 6 months in the refrigerator crisper drawer. In milder climates (zones 7 and warmer), they can even be stored in the ground and harvested as needed throughout the winter.
Thanks to its frost-tolerance and continuous yields, kale is the quintessential fall veggie. While the heat can turn kale leaves bitter, the cold actually sweetens them. This accumulation of sugars occurs because starch molecules inside the plant are converted to natural sugars in chilly weather.
While kale is extremely cold-hardy down to a frigid -10°F, it still needs to get established before hard frosts. It’s typically recommended to plant at least 6 to 8 weeks before first frost.
Don’t forget to harvest your kale regularly! Perhaps the best thing about this autumn green is its eagerness to keep yielding as you pick it. Just remember to pull the oldest leaves first and always leave the center growing tip intact.
Pro Tip: For frigid northern gardens, choose ultra hardy kale varieties like ‘Winterbor’ or ‘Red Russian’. You can plant as early as late summer (June through August) and harvest these kales throughout fall and winter. Alternatively, you can plant baby kale and grow under a protected cover throughout the cold season.
Fall soups and roasts just aren’t the same without cauliflower. This brassica is hardy in zones 2 through 11, but can’t handle as extreme cold as kale. Because takes up to 10 weeks to mature, pre-planning is a must for fall cauliflower.
You can direct seed cauliflower as late as mid-September in zones 7 and warmer. If you prefer to transplant, this fall brassica needs to be started indoors around June or July and transplant 4 weeks later.
Cauliflower prefers to grow at a mild 50 to 60°F and complete 60-70% of its vegetative growth before the cold really sets in. You can use a cold frame to protect cauliflower that’s planted later.
Pro Tip: Cauliflower is notoriously susceptible to aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. To exclude these pests, it helps to cover fall seedlings with row fabric at the time of transplanting. Companion plant with sweet alyssum, dill, marigold, and/or yarrow to help attract beneficial insects.
Compared to spring broccoli, autumn’s cooler temperatures, shorter day length, and more predictable conditions make this the perfect time of year for growing these green florets. In most growing zones, the bumper season also brings more rains and even moisture to help broccoli thrive.
Broccoli needs to be planted at least 8 weeks before the expected first fall frost. Like cauliflower, you will need to sow seeds indoors in June or July in order to reach the proper transplanting timeframe.
The seeds require 85 to 100 days to mature into full heads. You can even extend the harvest after you cut the initial head by harvesting side shoots throughout late autumn.
Pro Tip: If you’ve had past trouble wtih getting broccoli to “head up”, consider growing sprouting broccoli or “broccolini”. Varieties such as ‘Happy Rich’, ‘Melody’, and ‘Sweet Stem’ produce an abundance of long tender-stemmed florets that have an extra sweet flavor and miniature size for easy preparation. They keep putting out shoots up until the first fall freeze and they taste absolutely delicious on the grill.
Like broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage is a cool-weather brassica that thrives in autumn weather. Unlike the bland green cabbage at the grocery store, growing this classic cole crop in your garden opens the door to over 400 unique varieties and colors from around the world.
While some fall cabbages need to be established in late summer, you can still get away with transplanting cabbage seedlings as late as September in most growing zones. This will give them ample time to develop robust leaves and root systems that will fuel the growth of the central head as the trees change color around them.
You can also apply a deep mulch of straw or dried leaves to help insulate cabbage into the colder months. Some storage cabbages can be cut in held in the refrigerator for up to 4 months, while others (particularly napa and Chinese cabbages) are best for fermenting and preserving.
Like its brassica cousins, kohlrabi loves mild and cool weather. You can direct seed or transplant starts from August through October in most climates.
Kohlrabi gets a bad rap in some circles, but I think it’s only because novice growers let this brassica bulb get too large and tough. A better way to grow tender, sweet kohlrabi is to simply harvest them young (about 2-3” in diameter, typically 40 days after seeding).
Pulling the smaller roots also means you have more time to get in one or even two successions of this bumper crop in the fall. Separate the plantings by 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply. Baby kohlrabi can be sliced thin and integrated into slaws or cubed up and toss in a holiday root roast.
Anyone who has tried to grow salad greens in the summer heat has experienced how quickly lettuce can turn bitter and go to seed. That’s because lettuce is naturally a cool-weather crop that loves the spring and fall seasons.
While professional vegetable farmers typically plant lettuce successions every 1-2 weeks throughout the growing season, home gardeners may take a break in the summer and resume seeding in August or September. This allows the lettuce to develop in the milder weather it prefers to maintain a frilly, tender texture.
Lettuce seeds can germinate in soils as cold as 40°F and do not do well in hot soil temps above 75°F. In most climates, this means September and October are the ideal times to start getting fall lettuce off to a great start. You can “cut and come again” as long as you leave the center growing tip intact.
Pro Tip: If you are scrambling for something to plant in late fall just a few weeks before your first expected freeze, consider seeding a quick round of baby lettuce greens. I like to gather an array of different textures and colors of lettuces (for example, red butter, green incised, and wavy romaine), mix the seeds together, and directly sow in the garden at a rate of 4-6 seeds per inch in rows about 2” apart. Tamper lightly and cover with ⅛” of soil. Keep consistently moist and enjoy chill-sweetened salads within 2-3 weeks.
Commonly called Rainbow chard or Swiss chard, this vibrantly-colored leafy green can be grown year-round, but spring plantings of chard often simmer down by the time fall arrives.
Late August is a great time to get a refreshed succession of chard transplanted in the garden so you can enjoy big, crisp rainbow leaves by October.
Alternatively, you can seed baby chard much like baby lettuce and enjoy a quick crop of tasty salad greens. Just be sure to leave at least 1-2” between each plant to prevent overcrowding and ensure a qualtiy yield.
Fall is prime parsley-planting time because it yields in much greater abundance than spring parsley. Parsley takes up to 3 weeks to germinate and 75 days to mature, so it’s best to get the seeds sown in late summer and transplant them into the garden in early autumn. It also prefers partial shade to full sun.
Parsley comes in flat-leaf and curly varieties, the latter being the most cold-hardy but the prior is more flavorful for culinary use. Curly parsley can handle down to 10°F and can reliably overwinter in zones 8 and warmer.
As a biennial, it will grow an abundance of leafy herbaceous growth in the fall and then re-sprout in the spring, then got to seed in the summer of its second year.
While most of us crave cilantro in summer tomato salsas, this herb naturally prefers chilly weather. Cilantro tends to bolt in the heat, but it grows vigorously in the fall. If you want to dry or freeze an abundance of this herb, get cilantro established in late summer and begin harvesting leaves as soon as September.
Cilantro is very beginner-friendly because it doesn’t mind excess moisture or overcrowding. Nonetheless, the best cilantro crops are grown in fertile, compost-rich soil with a continuous supply of moisture throughout the fall season.
This lesser-known fall green is extraordinarily easy to grow. It has a peppery, mild flavor and abundance of nutrition. Sow the seeds every 2 weeks throughout the fall for a steady supply. You can seed in a 2-4” wide band for baby greens or thin to 4” apart for larger florets. Begin harvesting when they reach 2” tall.
Pro Tip: Choose between watercress or upland cress. Both require a lot of moisture, but watercress is particularly finicky about water. If you don’t get much fall rain or humidity, opt for an upland cress.
Originating in Scandanavia, rutabagas are a plump root relative of cabbage and turnips. They have a distinctive buttery and bitter-savory flavor with a cooked texture reminiscent of potatoes. These tought roots can withstand light freezes and are perfectly fine to be harvested after the first frost of fall.
Rutuabagas are also called “swedes” in Great Britain and are far more popular across the pond than they are in America. However, their impressive nutrient profile and easygoing growth habit make them the perfect autumn garden addition for growers in U.S. zones 3 through 9.
Northern growers typically seed rutabagas about 3 months before the expected first fall frost, while southern growers can plant in late winter or early spring.
This buttery delicious onion cousins can be planted in fall and overwintered in many climates. Baby leeks can be harvested like scallions or you can transplant leek starts in the garden for full-size shanks by November. They grow into thick stalks that remain very frost-hardy even through freeze-thaw cycles.
A key secret to growing incredible leeks is to keep them “hilled up” like potatoes. Every few weeks, mound more soil onto the base of the plants. This blanches the bottoms and makes them sweeter in the kitchen.
Pro Tip: Leeks are infamously slow-growing, often taking up to 110 days to mature. Inconsistent moisture or fluctuations in weather can further delay the process. For impatient gardeners, choose quicker-maturing varieties like ‘King Richard’ or ‘Lincoln’.
While admittedly challenging even for experienced gardeners, Brussel Sprouts are worth including in a fall garden because they can yield in such abundance and tolerate extreme conditions.
Brussels sprouts can be planted in the first cool days of fall in an area with plenty of space and direct sunlight. Prepare seedlings indoors in late summer or direct seed into the garden about 4 months before the expected first frost. Each plant prefers at least 18-24” of space and plenty of fertilizer to fuel their growth.
At 90 days to mature, brussels sprouts do require a bit of patience and care, but each plant can produce an impressive amount of sprouts for holiday meals.
A favorite in southern vegetable, collard greens are remarkably underrated in the greens arena. They have the same amount of nutrition as their “superfood” kale cousins and they handle the cold like champs.
Seedlings should be started in June or July for fall harvests. Transplants can be set out from August to October in northern zones and reliably overwintered in mild regions.
Begin harvesting the outer leaves as soon as they reach 8-10” in length. You can keep picking collards for as long as they hold up in the cold. The greens will sweeten and the flavor will improve with light frosts.
This underrated carrot-cousin practically screams fall with its khaki earthy-smelling roots and extreme cold-hardiness. Parsnips have the shape and texture of carrots, but with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Like most of these autumn veggies, their sweetness is brought on by the cold weather.
Pro Tip: You can dig up parsnips throughout the fall for delicious mashed potato-parsnip dishes or decadent cauliflower-parsnip soups. They can also be left in the ground (their tops will likely die back) and dug up in the early spring before the greens begin to grow back.
Though it may seem like your late-summer garden is simmering down with the reduced daylight, fall is prime time for establishing cool-weather crops for cozy autumn meals and winter storage.
Instead of only planting one round of crops per year (for example, spring carrots or summer beets), you can use succession planting to maximize your yields. This means you can plan for two or more plantings of your favorite cold-weather veggies.
Parting Tips For a Great Fall Garden:
- Choose fall-harvested and cold-hardy overwintering varieties.
- Make use of season extension devices like row covers and cold frames.
- Calculate your seeding dates ahead of time.
- Establish fall veggies before it gets too cold.
- Account for slower growth during shorter days and cooler temps.
- Sneak in quick-maturing crops like scallions, baby greens, and radishes at the end of the season.
May your autumn harvest season be filled with color and abundance!