Let’s face it, gardening in the hot summer sun can sometimes be taxing. Waking up early to tend to the garden before the scorching sun arrives takes its toll after a few months.
Now it’s time to prepare the vegetable patches for the fall season and think about what vegetables will endure the cold winter frost.
Let’s look at more details of 10 of the best frost-tolerant vegetables that can be grown this fall season.
These can be planted straight into the ground.
In some cases, you can start them off in egg cartons inside the house near a window or cover the pots with clear plastic to imitate a greenhouse effect and speed up the sprouting process.
To plant beans, you will need:
- Potting soil
- Cardboard egg cartons (Tip: Remove the top and use underneath for added support.)
- Seed beans. They’re just like dried beans, and you can purchase a packet from your local gardening store.
- Garden gloves
- Clear plastic wrap
To begin, slip on your garden gloves and fill each egg carton with potting soil; using a watering can, lightly soak the soil. After the soil is wet, place one seed bean in each egg carton section.
Once you have finished, lightly cover the bean seeds with potting mix and lightly water them again.
It’s that simple, and if you cover the egg carton with clear plastic, you will see the shoots emerge within days.
After the second set of leaves has emerged, you can remove the plastic and leave them outside for a week to harden off a bit before planting.
I plant them into the ground in a sunny spot to ensure they get the hours of light they need. One great reason to plant beans in the fall is that there is a lot less risk of encountering pests that can damage the plants.
I grew my beans next to my wire fence, hoping they would take off and climb the wall.
Beans are a nitrogen fixer, so if you are planting them in your garden – think about the following season – they can provide good soil for the next crop to feed from.
Sowing lettuce seeds is relatively easy and can be done directly in the ground or in a pot.
The only challenge when planting lettuce seeds is their size and trying to ensure only one tiny seed goes into the hole.
You can thinly spread lettuce seeds into a pot of potting mix and delicately thin them out later. To do this, you can follow these steps:
- Take a small pot or container. You can reuse a plastic container from your kitchen and make holes in the bottom.
- Wearing your garden gloves, fill each container with soil.
- Wet the soil down, so it settles down.
- Lightly spread the lettuce seeds on top – you can aim for approximately 20 seeds per pot.
- Put a thin layer of potting soil over the top of the seeds and keep them in a warm place.
If you use the method to thin them out, later on, it is easier to plant them into a plastic pot to start with. That way, you can tease the soil around the whole root system and gently remove each seedling.
After a week, your seeds will have sprouted, and you will see the first set of leaves. It’s essential to go through the hardening off-stage with lettuce seedlings.
Because of the water they take in, their leaves are very delicate and prone to wilting.
I cheated with my lettuce this fall and actually planted seedlings from a nursery supplier. After the scorching summer, there was probably a month when no lettuce was grown in the garden because it was just too hot.
I wanted to get ahead of time, so I planted the lettuces in a partly sunny spot and will begin to sow some seeds in the next few days. Lettuce doesn’t need vibrant soil, but it should be well-drained.
They are happy with partial sun, and within one month, you can expect to harvest your first salad.
3. Swiss Chard
This is one of my favorite greens to grow all year round. Swiss chard is a hardy edible in your vegetable patch, and the deep green screams health when you add it to your dishes.
Swiss chard seeds are manageable to handle, and you can start the Swiss chard seeds off in egg cartons filled with a regular potting mix you’ve bought from the local gardening store.
As with sprouting most seeds, keeping them in a warm environment will speed up the germination process. You can start your seeds indoors under a plastic cover during the cooler months until they have sprouted.
After keeping them watered for a week, you will see the second set of leaves emerge. Now is an excellent time to harden them outside for a week before planting them into the ground.
Any vegetables you are growing for edible leaves – like Swiss chard can be grown in part shade in well-draining soil. We are not waiting for a fruit to form, so they require less sunlight than other vegetables.
Be prepared to harvest these leaves a lot! Because they grow rapidly, and regular harvesting will promote new growth.
These greens are so nutritious, require little care, and can be added to many recipes such as stews, quiches, Bolognese, and even raw in your morning smoothie!
This is my second season growing broccoli, and it is pretty exciting. I got a head start this year with broccoli by purchasing conveniently grown seedlings from my local nursery.
If you prefer to start your broccoli from seeds, you can germinate indoors in August, and they will be ready for planting during the fall.
There are a few varieties of broccoli out there, and growing them from seed will make an exciting crop to harvest.
Start your broccoli from seed by filling a cardboard egg cart with a well-draining potting mix. Place two seeds in each section ¼ to ½ inch deep.
Wet the soil with a spray bottle until the seeds begin to sprout. When the seeds have sprouted and the second set of leaves have emerged, you can tear off each case and divide them for planting.
Keep them watered; after 1 month, you can give them light feed with a slow-release fertilizer.
Because they will be growing good-sized vegetables, plant them in a sunny spot in the garden with a rich compost soil mix.
In my case, I use compost from the pile mixed with my used chickens’ bedding hay. The hay from the chicken’s bed helps keep the soil aerated and provides nutrients when the broccoli heads are forming.
You can treat Kale the same way as broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower, as they are all part of the same Brassica family.
Although kale is not favored by many as being the most tasteful green available, it is packed with various nutrients and has considerable health benefits.
I usually add kale to my diet by sautéing it with lemon and garlic or adding it to my favorite pasta dish.
If starting from seed and planting in the fall, it is best to start them about six weeks before the first frost date in your area. You can check these times online, although weather predictions are a little to go by these days.
To plant the kale seeds, use a well-draining potting soil mix in egg cartons and gently push 2 seeds into each section about ½ an inch deep.
Ensure the potting mix is moist using a spray bottle of water until the seeds begin to sprout. It’s best to start them indoors where it’s warm and harden them off for a week outside before dividing and planting.
I use some composted organic materials from the pile to give it some help along the way.
When planting the kale, ensure you are providing enough space between the plants; they are a fast grower, and keeping them spaced well will prevent pests or diseases.
6. Green Onions
These are great fun, and a quick way to grow them is from kitchen waste – keep in mind when cutting onions for your meal to cut and save an inch off the root end.
Keep your onion roots hydrated in a water bowl for a couple of days, and the green tips will emerge from the center.
This is a fantastic way to save time and money with seed growing. You are getting a second life from your original purchase.
Once the green shoots of the onion have formed, take them outside and plant them into well-draining soil in a part sun location.
The onions don’t need a big feed with fertilizer- we are not growing the whole vegetable again- just the greens from the tops. These greens are great for adding to salads, stir-fries, and stews to add more flavor.
Leeks are one of my favorites to grow, but they test my patience with their slow-growing nature!
One of the things I like about growing leeks in fall is after 120 days; you can leave a few in the ground to flower and produce seeds for the next crop.
I am growing the leek seeds from some store-bought leeks I put in the ground last winter and left to seed.
To grow leeks from seed, use a plastic pot and fill it with premium potting soil. Wet the potting soil using a watering can or light hose.
Lightly sprinkle the tiny leek seeds over the top of the potting soil and cover them with a thin layer of potting mix.
Use a spray water bottle to keep the soil moist during germination. After 10 days, you should see some shoots.
When the shoots have reached 10 cm high, gently loosen the entire root ball and shake off the soil.
Divide the leek seedling and plant in the garden approximately 8 cm apart. I use my hand width as a guide when making holes.
When planting leeks, ensure they are in well-drained soil so the roots can penetrate well.
Try to keep the soil manageable, as when the leeks grow, they will grow in thickness and height, so they need to be able to move freely.
Leeks require a lot of fertilizer, so you can feed them about three weeks after planting them.
Like onions, you can save the bottom part of the leek and rehydrate the roots to plant out.
Celery is one of those vegetables you either love or hate! It’s not something I would cook if new friends were coming around for dinner, but I love it in Asian-style stir-fries!
This year I have taken a new approach to growing celery; my local farmers market sells celeriac (celery root).
Rather than use it in cooking, I decided to hydrate it and plant it in the garden. It’s been successful so far, and new shoots were growing from the third day after the root was soaking.
To grow celery from seed, you can start them off in a pot in a warm area with sand and potting soil mix.
Ensure the soil is kept moist during germination.
Celery seeds’ germination can take 3 to 5 weeks, so patience is a must with this one!
Once they have grown to 10 cm or a manageable size, divide them and plant them into individual pots, this will help to form a more robust root system.
When they have become root bound, you can plant them into the ground in a sunny spot in the garden. Celery needs rich fertile soil to grow in, so adding compost or rotted manure will help them.
They will grow well and thrive during the fall season, but if the temperature becomes too cold, it will cause them to bolt.
Celery leaves are edible too, and although we are coming to the end of salad season, I like to mix their leaves with lettuce and spinach to add some extra zing.
I have chosen to grow turnips again this fall- they provide a tremendous edible root and nutritionally packed greens. Their greens multiply, and the excess offers a real treat for my chickens too!
As with leeks, you can leave a few turnips in the ground after they have flowered, and they will provide you with many seeds for the following season.
To grow turnips from seed, do the following:
- Fill a pot of premium potting soil.
- Sprinkle the tiny turnip seeds on the top.
- Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix.
- Using a spray bottle moisten the soil.
- Cover the top of the pot with clear plastic to imitate the greenhouse effect.
Keep the soil moist during the germination stage. They are sprouting very fast, and within a week, they will start to grow leaves.
You can do this indoors by a window or under plastic to imitate the same environment.
Once the turnips have grown a second set of leaves and look strong, please place them in the garden to harden off for a week or so.
Choose a spot in the garden with morning sun and shade in the evening- this will stop them from being stressed by the intense sun.
When planting your turnips, space them well and plant them in aerated soil. Because we are growing them for the root and the greens, the ground needs to be loose so they can grow freely.
Sandy or clay soil will compact easily and prove difficult when the turnips are tried to succeed.
This year I have yet to take cabbage growing too lightly- mainly because of my newfound love of pickling! Yes, sauerkraut is an effortless way to preserve the cabbage and enjoy it during the later months.
Another reason to enjoy cabbage growing is purely their size: they produce huge leaves, and one dish that I am a massive fan of is stuffed cabbage rolls.
Cabbage requires quite a lot of spacing, as you can expect not just one head but three or four heads to grow from one plant.
You can grow cabbage from seedlings provided by your local nursery or have a go at growing them from seed.
To grow from seed, start the seeds 10 weeks before the first frost. Cabbage is a quick-growing vegetable, and you will be able to harvest your first cabbage 8 weeks after germination.
To plant them:
- Use a pot or tray and fill it with a seed-raising mix.
- Wet the soil with a watering can and sow the seeds thinly over the top. The seeds are tiny, so they need to thin out later.
- After sowing the seeds, apply a light layer of seed-raising mix on the top and use a water spray bottle to moisten the top.
Applying gentle water is critical during germination as it will prevent the seeds from surfacing to the top of the soil.
Around 7 to 10 days later, your seeds should have sprouted; once the second set of leaves has emerged, loosen the pot of soil and gently tease each individual root to plant in the garden.
Plant them well-spaced in a sunny spot in the garden and water and feed them with fertilizer throughout the season.
My primary source of fertilizer in the garden is composted chicken manure. Although there are some debates on whether chicken manure is too strong or not, my cabbages seem to be loving it so far!
If you are using the organic method to feed your plants, ensure the manure is left to compost for six months before applying it to your plants.
After six months, the pathogens will have died off and will reduce the risk of burning the roots of your veggies too.
Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer 10-10-10 to ensure they get the necessary nutrients.
To Sum Up
These vegetables fall into two categories regarding their survival in cold temperatures.
Heavy frost growers can tolerate temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. This includes broccoli, leeks, onion, kale, cabbage, beans, and turnips.
Then there are the semi-frost tolerant vegetables that grow through a light frost in temperatures of 28-32 degrees Fahrenheit. These vegetables are cauliflower, lettuce, and celery.