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The Cool Season Garden

There are several vegetables that can be planted in cool weather.



In the garden catalogs you’ll see many vegetables that take less than 50 days to mature.  All of those are potential fall garden crops.

The lettuce in the above photo is covered with row cover.  It’s a blanket that is water permeable, but keeps the plants warmer.  Lettuce likes a little warmer temperature than the other fall crops I have in this garden.

Fall is the only time of the year I can get a complete salad out of my own garden.  The tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and carrots are still flourishing from the spring garden.  By the time they’re ripe in the summer, the lettuce has usually bolted (turned bitter) from the heat.  In fall, I have it all!

Of course planting in the late summer requires one to be much more attentive to watering.  New seedbeds should be wet constantly.  And even after the plants are up, it’s good to keep the bed wet for optimal growth.

Cool months – What will grow

It really is amazing the variety of vegetables that can be grown through the cold months. Many varieties also taste sweeter after being hit by frost as it induces sugar production.

Arugula, chicory, endive, kale and radicchio are generally the most cold-hardy greens, surviving to nearly 0 degrees F.

Chard, collards, mustard greens and spinach can handle 10 degrees F, while lettuce and Chinese cabbage can tolerate 20 degrees F.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage can be harvested in the coldest months, but should be protected with cold frames, cloches, tunnels and/or row covers when temperatures drop below 20 degree F.

Beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas and turnips also thrive and become sweeter in cool soils.   Sow in late summer and mulch DEEPLY once established for harvest down to -20 F (really, minus 20 degrees!).

Leeks, bunching onions and chives can also be harvested at this time. Peas, garbanzo beans and fava beans will also tolerate temperatures down to 20 F.


Cold frames, hot boxes, cloches, tunnels and row covers can nurture the most cold-sensitive plants through early, light frosts or help a bed of hardy greens overwinter when the weather gets really nasty.

Put your winter garden in a spot that will receive full sun, utilize windbreaks when possible and apply deep mulches under row covers to extend the harvest of your veggies.