13 Fresh Vegetables to Plant in Fall for a Bountiful Spring Harvest

As the traditional gardening season starts to wind down, many people underestimate the potential of planting vegetables in the fall for a spring harvest. Contrary to popular belief, seeds and plants can grow in snow and cold temperatures, providing an early bounty of fresh produce. While you prepare your garden for the winter and preserve the last of your summer crops, take a few minutes to plant seeds that will yield delicious vegetables in the spring, giving you an edge over other gardeners in your area.

Timing is Key

To ensure a successful fall planting, it’s crucial to understand when to sow your seeds. Most plants won’t be harvested in the winter, unless you live in a mild climate or have a cold-frame that can keep your plants warm. Instead, they will be ready for collection in the early spring, around March or April. The optimal time to plant these seeds is when the temperatures range between 50-60℉, allowing the soil to remain warm enough for quick germination. However, be cautious about the first frost and aim to complete your planting before it arrives. This period also presents an ideal opportunity to plant bulbs that will bloom beautifully in the spring.

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Regional Considerations

Choosing the right vegetables for the winter in your specific region is essential. Different areas have varying climates that dictate the success of your spring harvest. Consider the following recommendations for different parts of the United States:

Pacific Northwest And West Coast

If you reside in the Pacific Northwest or the West Coast, where temperatures are moderate, you have excellent conditions for growing greens and brassicas such as broccoli and cabbage. Utilizing raised beds is advisable as it helps prevent slugs, a common issue during the winter.

Southwest, Gulf Coast & Coastal South

These regions are known for their hot climates, making fall planting for a winter harvest preferable over spring planting for a summer harvest. Cooler temperatures in the fall allow for the successful growth of broccoli, spinach, peas, and leafy greens.

Rest of the Regions

In areas with snow, frost, and cold temperatures, spring plantings can be challenging. However, using cold frames to grow crops like leafy greens and cabbages year-round can be highly beneficial.

13 Fresh Vegetables for a Bountiful Spring Harvest

Let’s explore a variety of vegetables that can be planted in the fall and harvested in the spring. Discover the diverse options available to you:

1. Onion

Belonging to the alliums family, onions and garlic have a long growing season. By planting them in the fall, you can harvest them the following summer. Winter onion varieties are relatively low-maintenance and can endure harsh conditions.

2. Shallots

For an earlier crop, consider growing shallots, a smaller allium that can be planted in the fall and harvested in early to late spring.

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3. Garlic

Garlic is a popular choice for fall planting, known for its ability to withstand winter conditions. Plant garlic bulbs in late September, cover them with mulch, and enjoy their flavorful harvest in the following summer.

4. Spring Onions

Also known as scallions or bunching onions, spring onions are one of the first greens to appear after the snow melts. When sown in early fall, they can be harvested in the early spring.

5. Asparagus

While growing asparagus requires patience, the wait is well worth it. Once established, an asparagus plant can produce for over 25 years, offering a long-lasting source of fresh, delicious spears.

6. Turnips

Often overlooked, turnips are remarkably hardy and can be enjoyed as a tasty addition to your winter meals.

7. Carrots

Sow carrot seeds in early fall to ensure their growth before cold weather arrives. These sturdy vegetables can even survive the winter and provide a pleasant surprise come spring.

8. Winter Lettuce

Contrary to popular belief, lettuce can be grown in winter. Opt for varieties that tolerate colder temperatures, such as winter gem lettuce, endive, radicchio, and watercress.

9. Radicchio

Radicchio, a frost-tolerant salad green, not only brings a unique taste to your dishes but also adds vibrant color and texture. With the help of a cold frame, you can grow radicchio all winter long.

10. Leafy Greens

Kale and collards are excellent options for winter gardening, as they tolerate cold temperatures exceptionally well. Their flavor even improves in colder climates, making them a delicious addition to your meals throughout the winter and spring.

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11. Broccoli and Cauliflower

If you live in mid to warmer climate zones, you can grow broccoli and cauliflower over the winter and harvest them in the spring. Look for varieties that offer multiple harvests rather than a single crop.

12. Peas and Broad Beans

In mild climate zones, planting peas and broad beans in the fall allows for an early spring harvest. Experiment with different varieties to find the ones that thrive in your specific garden and location.

13. Cabbage

With proper protection from extreme cold temperatures, cabbage can grow throughout the winter and be harvested in the spring. Consider planting different cabbage types at different times to ensure a continuous supply.

Embrace the Challenge of Winter Gardening

Even in colder regions, the use of season extenders, such as cold frames, can enable you to grow vegetables all winter long. By embracing the opportunity to plant vegetables in the fall for a spring harvest, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of fresh produce. Start preparing your garden now, and enjoy the fruits of your labor when spring arrives.

Ames Farm Center


YouTube Video: Fall Gardening Tips