notes from



Leafy greens (such as lettuces, spinach, arugula, chard and mâche) and root veggies (such as beets, carrots, turnips, radishes and rutabagas) as well as brassicas (including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and Chinese cabbage) and peas will all thrive in the cooler weather and shorter days of fall. In many regions, some of these cold-hardy crops will even survive the winter to produce a second harvest in spring.

Fall is prime garden season in the Pacific Northwest, where abundant rain and cool (but not frigid) temperatures are ideal for growing brassicas, root crops and leafy greens planted in mid- to late summer. The hardiest of these crops often hang on well into winter if given protection, such as row covers or cold frames.


Kale, radicchio and Swiss chard have been tested extensively and confirmed cold hardy to 14 degrees Fahrenheit with no protection.

Broccolis – Opt for varieties that produce plenty of side shoots, rather than a single large head. “‘Diplomat’ and ‘Marathon’ can survive the heat of late summer and thrive when cool weather arrives in fall: ‘Packman’ and ‘Diplomat’ for harvest by Thanksgiving and ‘Marathon’ by Christmas.

Carrots – Consider storage ability when choosing carrots for your fall garden: ‘Bolero’ for fall growing and winter storage.

Lettuces – Whether you garden in the North or South, lettuces are a mainstay of the fall garden. Several European heirloom varieties are especially durable: ‘Rouge d’Hiver’ (a flavorful romaine whose leaves blush red in cool weather), ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ (also called ‘Merveille de Quatre Saisons,’ a sweet and tender butterhead with red-edged outer leaves) and ‘Winter Density’ (also called ‘Craquerelle du Midi,’ a compact bibb type with deep green leaves) are good bets. Even in Zone 5, these lettuces will hang on into December and, with the protection of heavy mulch or a cold frame, will often return with renewed vigor in early spring.

Kale – cold hardy popular Lacinato-type kales, ‘Black Tuscan’, ‘Winterbor’ (a tall Dutch kale), ‘Red Russian’ and ‘White Russian’.

Radicchio – still considered a specialty vegetable by many, radicchio thrives in the cool conditions of fall and offers a wealth of possibilities in the kitchen. Cold-hardy: ‘Variegata di Luisa Tardiva’ and ‘Variegata di Castlefranco’

Swiss Chard – chard hardiness generally corresponds to leaf color. Green varieties tend to be most cold hardy, followed by gold, then pink, magenta and red varieties, which tend to be the least tolerant of cold.

Recommended varieties for fall:

Arugula: ‘Astro,’ ‘Sputnik’
Beets: ‘Chioggia Guardmark,’ ‘Red Ace,’ ‘Shiraz,’ ‘Touchstone Gold’
Collards: ‘Champion,’ ‘Flash’
Spinach: ‘Olympia,’ ‘Space,’ ‘Tarpy’


Late summer — is prime time for starting your fall garden. To determine starting dates for each variety you plan to grow, first check the “days to maturity” listed in the seed catalog or on the back of the seed packet. Add an extra week or two to factor in the shorter day lengths of fall, which delay plant maturity. Then count backward, subtracting that number of days from your average first fall frost date.

Categories: Vegetable

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