Fall harvest crops are planted in mid- to late-summer. These cool-season crops get a quick start from seed or seedling in warm summer soil and come to maturity in the cool days of autumn.
Choose crop varieties with shorter days to harvest; some cabbage takes 90 days to harvest; other varieties are ready sooner. Choose varieties that are ready sooner–before the first freeze.
Leafy cool-weather crops such as lettuce will need protection if an early fall frost comes. Many fall harvest crops, however, can be left in the garden into winter, lifted just when you need them for cooking; these include most of the root crops and some of the cabbage family crops.
Fall harvest vegetable crops are long in old-fashioned, open-pollinated–meaning you can save the seeds to grow next year–varieties that have been tested in fall and winter gardens for generations. Here is a list of fall harvest vegetable varieties that should be easy to get from seed companies or neighbors:
Arugula: How to Grow Arugula.
- Rocket (Sylvetta). 45 days from seed; pungent, short tasty leaves; a wild arugula, also called Wild Rocket.
Beets: How to Grow Beets.
- Detroit Dark Red. 55-60 days from seed; 3-inch blood red globes with red interior for table and canning; sweet and tender with tasty green tops; introduced in 1892.
- Early Wonder (Greentop). 50-60 days from seed; semi-globe, bright red with light zoning; smooth-skinned 3-inch-in-diameter roots with flavorful green tops; introduced in 1911.
- Ruby Queen. 55-60 days from seed; dark blood red round roots; smooth skin and fine, buttery texture, sweet for eating fresh and canning; All-American Selection winner in 1957.
Broccoli: How to Grow Broccoli.
- Calabreze Green Sprouting. 60-90 days from transplanting; dark green plant, 24 to 30-inches tall, with small deep blue-green central head; once central head is harvested many side shoots produce for several months; came to America with Italian immigrants in 1880s.
- Purple Sprouting. 60 days from transplanting (120 days or more from seed); purple-green leaves and deep purple flower buds, very sweet tasting and turns green when cooked; frost-hardy to 10°F, start in fall for spring harvest; dates from before 1835.
- Romanesco. 75 to 110 days from transplanting; cauliflower-like pale green with spiraling 4 to 5 inch buds that come to a point; good texture and prized flavor for salads and dips; from Italy, grown since the sixteenth century.
Cabbage: How to Grow Cabbage.
- Danish Ballhead. 85 to 110 days from transplanting; round, blue-green heads, 5 to 7 pounds, firm and solid, tender mild flavor; good for storage; does well in cool and short-season regions; introduced in 1887.
- Early Jersey Wakefield. 85 to 110 days from transplanting; small, compact, green pointed heads, tinged with red, with delicious flavor; 2 to 4 pounds; frost resistant; introduced in 18840s.
Carrots: How to Grow Carrots.
- Long Orange Improved. 85 days from seed; long, tapered to 12 inches (harvest before maturity), deep-orange roots; very good flavor and long keeping; introduced by the Dutch in 1620.
- Scarlet Nantes (Nantes Half Long). 70 days from seed; bright orange cylindrical root to 7 inches long with fine texture and sweet flavor; good storing carrot; introduced in 1870.
Chinese Cabbage: How to Grow Chinese Cabbage.
- Michihli. 70 days from sowing; tall, cylindrical, romaine-type head with pale green leaves to 16 inches long and 4 to 6 inches across; crisp and tender, flavorful; use for pickling and stir-fry; introduced in 1870s.
Collards: How to Grow Collards.
- George Blue Stem. 60 to 65 days from seed; tall, blue-green leaves with open, cabbage-like heads; mild, tender flavor improves with frost; harvest all winter, new leaves form after each picking; introduced before 1880.
- Vates (Blue Stem). 75 days from seed; large, broad, crumpled blue-green
leaves with mild cabbage-like flavor; frost-resistant; developed in Virginia.
Corn Salad: How to Grow Corn Salad.
- Verte de Cambrai (Green Cambrai). 50 to 60 days from seed; dark-green oval leaves with fine texture and mild flavor when leaves are 4 to 6 inches long; very cold tolerant; sow in fall and overwinter–very cold tolerant; serve like lettuce or young as “baby mâche.”
Endive-Escarole. How to Grow Endive and Escarole.
- Full Heart Batavian Escarole. 85 to 90 days from seed; broad, round head 5 to 6 inches across; curled yellowish-green leaves and white blanched heart with buttery flavor; use in salads; frost tolerant; All-American Selection winner in 1934; originally from Holland.
- Salad King Endive. 100 days from seed; large heads of ribbed white leaves to 32 inches tall; tie outer leaves to blanch heart; early frost-tolerant.
Kale: How to Grow Kale.
- Lacinato (Black Cabbage). 100 days from seed; open head, dark-green serrated leaves 2 to 3 inches wide, 10 inches long; winter hardy, freezing temperatures bring out its full flavor; cross between sweet cabbage and kale; from Tuscany.
- Vates (Dwarf Blue-Curled Scotch). 55 to 65 days from seed; dwarf, blue-green finely curled leaves; 12 to 15 inches tall and 20 to 35 inches across; flavor improves with frost.
Lettuce: How to Grow Lettuce.
- Black-Seeded Simpson. 40 to 55 days from seed; loose leaf, broad light green, crinkly leaves; crisp, mild flavor; introduced before 1850.
- Merveille des Quatres Saisons (Marvel of Four Seasons). 55 to 70 days from seed; red bibb lettuce turns bright burgundy with cold; pale, creamy yellow hearts; crisp, tender flavor; French heirloom.
- Red Sails. 45 to 50 days from seed; compact, maroon-red leaves that deepen color with maturity; mild flavor; All America Selection winter in 1985.
- Red Salad Bowl. 45 days from seed; loose, frilly, rosette of wine-red deeply-lobed leaves; mild flavor; cut-and-come-again.
- Salad Bowl. 40 to 65 days from seed; loose, frilly rosette of medium-green deeply notched leaves; cut-and-come again; old-time variety.
- Winter Density. 55 to 60 days from seed; upright, compact heads; cool-weather favorites.
Mustard: How to Grow Mustard.
- Mizuna. 40 to 65 days from seed; narrow, deeply cut leaves on white stalks; mild flavor; use for salads and stir-fry.
- Tendergreen (Komatsuna). 21 to 50 days from seed; flat, oblong, dark glossy green leaves with pale midribs to 10 inches tall; plant spreads 16 to 20 inches across; mildly pungent flavor between mustard and spinach.
Radicchio: How to Grow Radicchio.
- Red Verona. 85 to 100 days from seed; bright red, round head with heart-shaped leaves; classic bitter flavor.
Radishes: How to Grow Radishes.
- Cherry Belle. 24 days from seed; smooth, round root to ¾ inch in diameter; cherry red skin, white flesh; holds crispness; All-America Selection winner 1949.
- Early Scarlet Globe. 20 to 28 days from seed; globe-shaped, bright red skin with white flesh; delicate flavor; harvest at 1-inch for best flavor.
- Sparkler White Tip. 24 days from seed; globe-shaped, bi-colored bright red upper and white tip lower root; sweet, white flesh; lift when 1 inch across; holds its crispness.
- Taokinashi (All Seasons). 70 to 85 days from seed; Japanese daikon, 12 to 15 inches long; white, fine-textured flesh, crisp, mildly pungent flavor; can begin harvest at 30 days.
- Winter Icicle (White Icicle, Lady Finger). 30 days from seed; white, carrot-shaped roots, 4 to 5 inches long; tender, mild flavor; harvest small to large; introduced before 1897.
Spinach: How to Grow Spinach.
- Giant Nobel. 40 to 55 days from seed; large, smooth green leaves with rounded tip; tender for fresh eating in salads when young; leaves thicken for steaming; excellent flavor; introduced in 1926.
- Giant Winter (Gigante d’Inverno). 45 to 50 days from seed; large, broad, semi-savoy, dark green leaves; tender and flavorful; cold hardy; Italian heirloom.
Turnips: How to Grow Turnips.
- Amber Globe (Yellow Globe). 60 to 65 days from seed; fine-textured, pale yellow flesh with sweet flavor; round to 6 inches across; hardy, keeping until spring; from before 1840.
- Purple Top White Globe. 45 to 65 days from seed; round white root below with reddish-purple top above ground; fine-textured white flesh, sweet, mild flavor; from before 1880.
- White Egg. 45 to 50 days from seed; medium-large, egg-shaped root with green crown and fine-grained, white flesh; from before 1880.
More tips for fall harvest: Planting for Fall and Winter Harvest.
Simple growing tips: The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide