6 Quick Tips to Handle Growing Cool-Season Vegetables
Cool Weather Doesn’t Mean You Have to Say Goodbye to your Garden
It is a common misconception that you must put your garden to sleep after you’ve harvested your tomatoes and cucumbers in the late summer and early fall. In fact, there is a wide variety of cool weather plants that will flourish even after the first frost hits.
Check out this list of tips for taking advantage of fall weather to get an amazing cool-weather garden going, and be prepared to harvest stunning veggies all year-long.
1) Know Your Veggies
Some vegetables can handle cold weather better than others, so before you choose which seeds you want to plant in your cool weather garden, make sure you know you are planting the right kinds.
Hardy vegetables can handle temperatures as low as 25-28 degrees Fahrenheit. Vegetables that are extremely hardy — like kale — can even handle temperatures in the low teens. Some even say that kale tastes better after it has been bitten by a bit of frost.
2) Pick the Right Seeds
Choose plants that fair well in cooler temperatures. If you are wanting to harvest your veggies in the spring, choose seeds that will be safe in the ground a few weeks before the last frost. For the fall, choose seeds that will be happy to be planted in late summer.
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, green onions, persimmons, beets, parsnips, arugula, and spinach are all vegetables that won’t mind a few chilly nights. Northeast Nursery has a thorough list of cool weather vegetables that may come in handy when trying to choose the best seeds for your cool weather garden.
3) Start Planning Ahead of Time
The best way to make sure your cool-season veggies get off to the right start is to make sure you give them enough time to grow into maturity before the first frost. Start by figuring out when the first fall frost normally arrives in your area; if you aren’t sure, you can consult Dave’s Garden, which lets you look up first frost based on your zip code.
You can also check out the USDA’s frost map, which illustrates the median frost dates for areas across the country.
4) Coordinate Frost Dates With the Seeds you Plant
Once you’ve figured out when the first frost is, check your seed packets to find out how many days it will take that plant before it is harvest-ready. Count backward the recommended number of days from the first frost to find out the optimal time to plant those seeds.
You may want to add an extra two to three weeks just for added security, in case the frost comes early.
5) Prep Your Garden
Make sure you take some time to give your garden love before you go ahead and plant your fall vegetables, especially if you had a hearty summer harvest of vegetables that you planted in the spring. Spring crops can drain your garden soil as they use up lots of nutrients.
Incorporate soil amendments or hearty fertilizer into your garden to replenish the soil after the midsummer harvest. Pennington has quite a few options when it comes to choosing the right type of soil amendment or fertilizer for your garden.
6) Start Planning Delicious Fall Veggie Dishes!
If you plant robust cool weather vegetables, your garden will be overflowing with goodness in late September into November. The best way to take advantage of this harvest is to use your veggies in delicious fall recipes.
Real Simple has amazing suggestions for fall vegetable recipes that use fall hearty veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and collard greens. Perfect for meals during cool fall evenings, these recipes will bring the family together over fresh vegetables from your garden even after the first frost hits.