How Does Your Fall Garden Grow?
When you sow seeds a couple of months before your area’s average first frost date, quick-growing fall veggies have enough time to sprout, grow, and reach harvest size before Old Man Winter kills them off with the full fury of his chill. And gardeners in milder southern climes can typically continue to enjoy the fruits—or vegetables—of their labor right through the winter. Consider one—or all—of the following vegetables for your fall garden. All are relatively easy to grow, tasty to eat, and good for your health.
Barrel Head Napa Cabbage
Napa cabbage, also called Chinese cabbage, doesn’t form round heads like green or red cabbage, but instead, produces upright, oblong-shaped heads covered with a few looser leaves. Barrel Head is an especially large variety of Napa cabbage with a mild flavor that turns a bit sweet when cooked. Plant it in full sun, and you’ll be harvesting cabbage in just a couple of months. Use this cruciferous veggie raw in coleslaw or salads, steam it, or cook it in soups, stews, and stir-fries. Available from Burpee Seeds; $6.95.
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
As beautiful as it is nutritious, Bright Lights Swiss Chard has deep green, crinkled leaves, but lights up the garden with its bright gold, pink, red, orange, and purple stems. You can use Swiss chard in the same way you use spinach: eat it raw in salads, steam it as a side dish, sauté it in a bit of olive oil, or cook it in soups. Plant this leafy green in full sun for harvest in approximately two months. Available from Burpee Seeds; $4.95.
Oregon Sugar Pod II Pea
While it’s a bit of a gamble planting peas in the fall, as an unexpected heatwave can wipe out your crop, it’s worth taking the risk to plant this heirloom variety, Oregon Sugar Pod II. Large, sweet pea pods are delicious right off the vine, or go ahead and freeze them for later use, steam them as a side dish, or toss them into a stir-fry. Support the 28-inch vines with a stake or trellis. Plant in full sun and expect a harvest in two-and-a-half months. Available from Burpee Seeds; $3.95.
Red Russian Kale
If you want to like super-nutritious kale, but find it too bitter or chewy, Red Russian kale is the variety for you. This heirloom kale is much tenderer than most other varieties and not so bitter—and it becomes even sweeter with exposure to frost. These are large, attractive plants, with dark green leaves dappled in purple. Plant the seeds in a sunny or lightly shaded spot and prepare to harvest your greens within two months. Available from Burpee Seeds; $4.95.
Five Star Greenhouse Lettuce Mix
It’s hard to beat the flavor of a salad plucked from your very own garden just minutes earlier. And with the Five Star Greenhouse Lettuce Mix, you get a healthy, tasty, and beautiful blend of five types of lettuce: green oakleaf, red oakleaf, red romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuces. Best of all, each included variety was chosen with mildew-resistance in mind. Plant the seeds in a sunny spot. You’ll be enjoying your homegrown salad in less than a month. Available from Johnny Selected Seeds; $6.50.
Whether steamed, braised, or stir-fried, collards are the perfect accompaniment to pork dishes, chicken, or hearty vegetarian recipes. Georgia collard is an heirloom variety with large, dark green leaves and a mild flavor that gets even better with frosty weather. Plant seeds in a full-sun location. You’ll be ready to harvest in a little over two months. Available from Burpee Seeds; $4.45.
Silky Sweet Turnip
The perfect turnip for snacking, hybrid Silky Sweet is large, crispy, and bursting with sweet deliciousness. Of course, you can roast, bake, boil, or steam this cruciferous vegetable, as well, and you can also cook the leafy green tops, which are similar to mustard greens. Whatever way you like it, this will surely become one of your favorite root vegetables. Plant the seeds outdoors in a sunny spot, wait approximately two months, and your turnips will be ready to harvest. Available from Burpee Seeds; $6.95.
Easter Egg II Radish
Whether you like your radishes raw in a salad, cooked into a cold soup, or even pickled, your recipe will be a lot more colorful with the reds, purples, and whites of Easter Egg II radishes. These tasty root veggies have a mild flavor and remain crisp longer than many other varieties of radish. Even better, radishes grow quickly, so you can enjoy them as soon as one month after sowing the seeds in a sunny location. Available from Johnny Selected Seeds; $4.55.
Burpee A#1 Hybrid Carrot
It’s sweeter and more flavorful than other carrots, has twice as much vitamin A, and reaches nearly a foot in length if planted in light and fluffy soil. It’s the exclusive A#1 Hybrid carrot from Burpee. Delicious no matter how you like it: raw, steamed, stewed, roasted, or in a soup. For straight carrots, plant in deep, well-worked soil with plenty of compost and no pebbles, rocks, or dirt clods. Carrots are ready to harvest in approximately two-and-a-half months. Available from Burpee Seeds; $4.95.
Broccoli is one of the most versatile veggies you can grow: eat it raw, use it in soups and stews, roast it, steam it, braise it, rice it, or use it in a stir-fry. Hybrid Gypsy broccoli is more heat-resistant than most other varieties, and also has good resistance to downy mildew, making it an ideal choice for the home vegetable garden. It’s a deep green, medium-sized broccoli that reaches maturity within two months of planting in full sun. Available from Johnny's Seeds; $4.55.
Red Ace Beet
A garden favorite, Red Ace beet is sweet and tender, with a beautiful pure red color, especially during cooler weather. Beets are good raw, but are more often roasted, boiled, cooked into soup–borscht is a classic dish–or pickled. Whatever way you like them, they are a good source of magnesium and vitamin C. They mature quickly and are usually ready to harvest in a little under two months. Available from Johnny Selected Seeds; $4.75.
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