by Erin Marissa Russell
While spring always comes to mind as a gardener’s favorite time of year, the truth is there are plenty of edibles to grow in the cool season, too. When you plant these crops, you’re preparing for the cool time of year with harvests that will grace your table.
With its peppery kick, homegrown arugula is excellent in salads, on sandwiches, or briefly sauteed as a side dish. You can use it alone or as part of a mixture of different types of lettuces and greens.
Arugula does best in soil with good drainage that contains plenty of organic material. Sow the seeds a quarter of an inch deep and an inch apart, then thin to leave six inches of space between seedlings.
Learn more about growing arugula in our article How to Grow Arugula.
Broccoli is happiest with temperatures from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide these heavily feeding plants with soil that offers plenty of drainage but is still moist and fertile. Broccoli needs fertilizer when it’s transplanted into the outdoor garden and a second time two weeks later.
Learn more about growing broccoli in our article How to Grow Broccoli.
This favorite of the fall table is even better when your Brussels sprouts are homegrown.
Brussels sprouts don’t thrive in the warmer regions of the U.S. because they require both cool temperatures and a long growing season. Soil where broccoli will grow should be moist with plenty of drainage and lots of nitrogen and organic material. Broccoli needs soil with a pH range from 6.2 to 6.5.
Learn more about how to grow Brussels sprouts in our article Growing Brussels Sprouts.
This fall favorite vegetable goes way beyond a steamed side dish. Consider roasting your cauliflower, slicing it into steaks, or even making it into rice or pizza dough.
Cauliflower needs soil that stays consistently moist that’s also fertile and provides plenty of drainage. Find your cauliflower a spot in the garden that gets full sun (at least six hours of direct sunshine each day).
Learn more about growing cauliflower in our article How to Grow Cauliflower.
We recommend growing chives if you can only pick one herb for the fall garden. They’re just so versatile, from topping a baked potato to folding into an omelet.
Chive plants are perennials that can keep producing in your garden for decades with the proper care. Give them rich soil amended with organic material. There is a year between sowing chive seeds and harvesting fresh chives, so you may wish to start with plants from the garden center instead of seeds.
Learn more about growing chives in our article How to Grow Chives.
This Southern staple goes beyond braising. You can also slice raw collard greens thinly for use in a salad or lay the leaves flat to use in making wraps.
Collard greens will need full sunlight in most gardens (at least six hours of direct sunshine), but if you live in a particularly hot region, the plants will benefit from some afternoon shade. Provide collard greens with fertile soil rich in organic material that stays consistently moist. Collards perform best when the pH level of the soil is between 6.0 and 6.5.
Learn more about growing collard greens in our article How to Grow Collard Greens.
Fennel is a flavor powerhouse, with its slightly nutty root and fresh green fronds. Experiment with roasting, sauteing, and slicing raw fennel thinly into a salad.
Fennel is versatile and will accept soil with a broad range of pH levels, from 4.8 to 8.2. Give it soil that drains well but is moist and fertile.
Learn more about growing fennel in our article How to Grow Fennel.
Kale is a cool-season star of the garden that will continue producing when it’s too chilly for other greens. Grow it to maturity or trim the leaves as baby greens to include in salads, top sandwiches, or saute into a side dish.
Kale loves nitrogen, so give it soil that’s heavily amended with compost or well rotted manure. Kale needs a location that will get at least five hours of direct sunshine each day.
Learn more about growing kale in our article How to Grow Kale: Including Three Favorite Ways to Prepare Kale.
Potatoes are a kitchen staple that can be served in so many ways it’s nearly impossible to get tired of them. Cut your potatoes into French fries or hasselback potatoes, layer them into a gratin, or mash them with a bit of garlic and cheese.
Potatoes need loose, fertile soil that drains well. Compacted soil can really be a problem for potatoes. For best results, provide them with soil that has a pH level between 5.0 and 5.5.
Learn more about how to grow potatoes in our article Growing Potatoes in Your Vegetable Garden.
Radishes are hands down one of the easiest edibles you can grow. Not to mention, they make a delicious addition to a crudite platter—or try braising them with a little butter, salt, and pepper.
Find a place for your radishes that gets lots of sunshine. Growing in the shade can encourage the plants to focus more on their greenery than on their edible roots. Soil should be loose and rich in organic material.
Learn more about growing radishes in our article How to Grow Radishes (Raphanus sativus).
With all the potential cool season edibles there are to grow, it should be easy to find a few to grow yourself. In fact, the most difficult part of your cool season gardening may be narrowing the list down to what will fit in your garden.