As the days grow shorter and the temperatures start to drop, it's time to consider planting a vibrant and nutritious fall vegetable garden. Just like planning your late fall and early winter meals, choosing the right vegetables to grow becomes essential during this season, ensuring you have fresh and healthy produce to enjoy. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, cultivating a fall garden can be a rewarding experience.
In this article, we'll explore ten easy-to-grow vegetables that thrive in the cooler climates and waning sunlight of autumn. These nutrient-rich vegetables not only provide a bounty of flavors for your culinary creations but also offer a myriad of health benefits. Let's dig in! (Get it, dig in?)
Ten Easy Vegetables To Grow This Fall
Rich in iron, calcium and vitamins A and D, spinach is a great source of healthy nutrients you can harvest year round. Key outdoor sowing seasons are March to May and August to September, and you can buy different varieties that suit different times of the year.
I tend to grow spinach intensively in longer seed trays. This allows them to grow as a ‘cut and come again’ crop.
Grab your seed tray and fill with potting compost (organic certified preferably) to about 1 ½ inches from the top. Sprinkle with seeds, not too densely but enough to grow a fairly dense crop once the leaves fill out. Then cover with 1 inch of compost and water liberally.
The seeds should germinate and show signs of sprouting within the first 14 days, depending on how much light they have (not intense direct sunlight please). If you live where winters get very cold then I recommend growing crops in a greenhouse, or even on a well light window sill in doors.
Leaves are ready to harvest usually in 4 to 6 weeks. Simply trim of the leaves you wish to use making sure the main stem of the plan is intact ready to produce more leaves for the season.
You can sow garlic from October to February and because it sits deep in the soil (or a pot) it survives winter by lying mostly dormant. It increases its growth rate again as the weather changes to spring, and harvesting begins around June and lasts until August.
Garlic is really good at helping to treat infections and colds because it boosts your immune system, so growing this easy plant can be great for your body as well as enriching food tastes. You can use garlic in almost anything!
If you don’t have room for garlic directly in your garden, then they will survive quite nicely in pots. Remember to plant each clove at a depth of at around 3 inches, because you want the clove to develop into a bulb ready for harvest.
While your bulbs are growing look out for the flower head ‘scapes’. These are highly flavoured and great for making pestos and dips.
Check out this recipe from Taste of Home for Garlic Dip.
3. Broad Beans
Packed with nutrients broad beans are particularly great as a source of fibre and protein.
Broad beans will survive the colder climates of winter, especially if you shelter them with a cloche, or start off the plants in green houses so growing them is fairly easy. They will need canes to support the growing vines though!
If you are going to grow them from seed, then sow them in October and November, where harvest will commence in early May.
There are so many meals you can make with broad beans too… anything from dips to soups and stews.
Check out this recipe from food.com forSauteed Spinach With Fava Beans.
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4. Spring Onions
Spring onions, also known as scallions or green onions, should be sowed from March to September in two week intervals for a harvest finishing in late October. Again you can grow these in pots as well, if you don’t have a full vegetable plot.
Onions are a good source of vitamins A, C and K. they have been used medicinally for coughs, colds and the heart so using them as the base to meals is a great immune system boost.
5. Bok Choy
An Asian variety of greens, bok choi (also known as pak choi) is wonderful in winter warming salads and stir-fries. They are packed with vitamins A, B6, C and K, potassium, calcium and manganese and a great source of fibre and protein, making them a really healthy clean choice in your diet.
You can grow these greens as late as August, but they will prefer shelter if possible to grow quickly and steadily.
I tend to grow these in individual pots thinning out the seedlings to allow the strongest to grow. They also like to be watered more often, but sown in a free draining soil to avoid rotting from standing water. They seem more delicate to native plants here in the UK, wanting indirect sunlight where possible but given the right conditions they do grow well.
Check out these 15 Flavorful Bok Choy Recipes from Food & Wine.
Radishes are very easy to grow, they need sunlight and liberal watering, mostly looking after themselves. You can sow the seeds direct from February to August and within 3 months you can start harvesting them.
My advice is to plant regularly at two week intervals to maintain a healthy harvest from May to February. To eat at their best I would harvest them young. If you are wanting to grow your veg in pots, then I recommend the longer thinner varieties; like French Breakfast, as you can get more in each pot.
Try them in salads, stir-frys, or finely sliced on soups to pack a punch in flavour.
Carrots are packed with goodness from; beta carotene, Vitamins A, B1, B2, potassium, sodium and silicone and so are a really important part of your diet. What’s more is that they are easy to grow!
Due to their length they can grow carrots do prefer to be grown in the ground, but there are shorter ‘baby’ carrot varieties that will grow in pots. For the most part they are sown as late as July, but some varieties can be sown as late as August, with the first harvest a few months later. If you are growing them late, or trying as late as September to sow them, then keep them in a greenhouse so that the carrots do not freeze, or rot in unsheltered ground.
The interesting thing about carrots is that the green tops are also edible, which is often forgotten. Sprinkle carrot leaf cuttings over your salad to extra flavour.
Check out this recipe for Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup from Once Upon A Chef.
8. Winter Lettuce
Lettuce can be grown almost all year around, particularly if you have shelter and you use a dense ‘cut and come again’ method, as I mentioned with my spinach. This helps avoid bugs and disease.
To make the best of this particular method you would need to find varieties of leaf lettuce like; Lamb’s Lettuce, or Red Bowl. They can be sown directly into the ground as late as September.
Like many leafy greens they are packed with nutrients and very easy to grow. They survive well in both garden and container environments making them a versatile choice for any situation.
9. Sprouting Greens
Heralded as a super food because they are so high in energy and nutrients, sprouting greens, or micro greens are very easy to grow. You don’t even need a garden, as they can be grown indoors!
You can grow them in pots, with organic compost, or you can buy seed germinators to bring on your sprouting seeds, or even use a mason jar half filled with water (change regularly). You harvest them when they are a few days old. You can eat them raw by sprinkling on a salad.
There is a lot of choice in the seeds you can choose to sprout. Each has different benefits and taste.
Potatoes really are a staple in modern diets and they are great because they are packed with nutrients.
Traditionally potatoes would be planted in early spring, but with careful attention they can be grown from tubers as late as August according to the RHS. I tend to grow these better in large growing bags over autumn to avoid damage in wet, or frozen soils. They do need a bit of feed though, so make sure you choose something organic and chemical free. If you have a wormery, then make sure to use worm castings in your soil mix, and feed with watered down sump liquid sparingly.
Check out these 37 Potato Recipes That Are Absolute Perfection from Food Network.
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No green thumb? How about an indoor herb garden instead?
One of the best things you can add to your home this fall is an indoor herb garden. An indoor herb garden is easy to care for and will provide you fresh herbs all year round! Even if you live in a small space, you can fit these gardens just about anywhere in your home, thanks to their small footprint.
Check out this in-depth guide inside herb garden guide from ProFlowers to get your holiday cooking started on the right foot! This tutorial includes tips for selecting the best herbs, caring for your garden and arranging your garden in a way that fits your home.
Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a cozy balcony like I do, the joy of nurturing these ten easy-to-grow vegetables is right at your fingertips. From the leafy goodness of spinach and bok choy to the robust flavors of garlic and radishes, each plant offers a unique contribution to your seasonal menu. Remember, gardening is not only about nourishing your body with fresh and organic produce but also about nourishing your soul with the satisfaction of growing your own food.