By this time in the growing season, most people believe that their gardens are done and that there isn’t anything else to grow. What they don’t know is that many of the crops that they planted at the beginning of the growing season grow just as well in the fall when the temperatures start to cool down. The common plants that most would think of could be peas, radishes, lettuce, and spinach. There could also be a few other things, but most of these do better with the cooler temperatures of fall when the pests haven’t become too big of a problem yet.
Many root vegetables taste better after frost, which doesn’t hurt these plants like it would a warm-season crop. Some other cool-season crops are broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, kale, and leeks. These crops can be grown during the warm season, but they tend to get too hot and will bolt or can be affected by pests. Starting these crops while the soil is still warm will help the seeds germinate faster and give the seedlings enough time to grow before the cooler temperatures come around.
Even though these plants can handle the cooler temperatures, you still need to use something to keep some heat on them and keep the cold from killing them off. These tools are known as season extenders. A few things that people use to help extend the season are low tunnels, cold frames, hotbeds, and cloches. A few of these options only work if there are just a few plants, but each option has pros and cons. Plus, there are plenty of other options; it just comes down to what works best for you!
With fewer pests around to deal with, we are planting several crops for this fall: butternut squash, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, and lettuce. We picked these crops because they are cold tolerant and, if stored properly, will keep for a long time.
By Avery Friel and Cheyenne Dean (pictured below)