25 Veggies & Herbs to Grow in the Autumn

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Written by: empressofdirt
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Cool-Loving Vegetables

Did you know there are over 20 vegetables that actually grow better in the cool weather? And there are several herbs you can grow into winter? 

Depending on where you live, mid or late summer is usually the time to start preparing for autumn vegetable growing. 

The specific details are going to vary depending on your climate and growing conditions, but I can show you the basics and provide a list of veggies you may be able to grow. 

If you're interested in using cold frames or polytunnels to extend your growing seasons (both in spring and autumn), have a look at Autumn Vegetable Gardening 101.

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What Can I Grow?

With many cool season food crops, the parts we consume are the roots, stems, leaves, and, in some cases, immature flowers. Examples are radishes, carrots, leaf lettuces, broccoli, and kale. 

Here are the 3 groups:
  1. Slow-growers that need to be started from seed indoors mid-summer (or purchased from a nursery).
  2. Slow-growers that need to be started from seed outdoors mid-summer (because they do not like being transplanted).
  3. Fast-growers that should be started from seed directly outdoors in late-summer or early autumn. These are salad greens and baby greens (the delicious, immature leaves and stems of various cold-loving vegetables).
If you are brand-new to this, I recommend starting with group #3. They are fast-growers and require the least amount of time or work.
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1. Veggies to Start INDOORS Mid-Summer

We don't really want to think about autumn gardening in the middle of summer, but this is one task that will pay off if you dream of an autumn garden bed full of cool-loving crops. 

This group of plants are  slow-growers  that don't really like the hot summer weather so it's best to start these seeds indoors under grow lights [more info here].   

Alternately, you might find a local garden nursery that has caught onto the autumn gardening craze. If so, you may find starter plants all ready to be planted outdoors in the late summer. 

MID-SUMMER
Start these seeds indoors
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Scallions
As summer comes to an end, you will harden these plants off (gradually adjust them to life outdoors), and then plant them in your garden. 

Cauliflower  and  rutabaga  are also contenders, although you’ll need to allow ample time for their slow growth so check your seed packets for details.
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2. Veggies to Start OUTDOORS Mid-Summer

This group is both fast and slow growing, depending on which part of the plant you want to eat. If you want the mature crops (root veggies), start mid-summer. Otherwise, plant them with Group 3 (late summer) and enjoy the baby leaves, shoots, and tiny fruits/roots.
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Swiss chard
  • Peas
Select a slightly cool or shady location if you can so the hot summer sun does not bother them. 
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3. Fast-Growers to Sow Directly OUTDOORS Late Summer

 The fast-growing cool weather crops can be sown directly outdoors from seed.  

For winter lettuces (also known as leaf lettuces or hardy greens), I like to buy packets of mesclun mix  which contains a variety of seeds. Each seller seems to have different combinations but they’re all delicious and grow well together (of course). 

You want to time it so that these vegetables are either full-grown before the first autumn frost or you have adequate weather protection available to continue growing.  

Read more about  cold frames (raised beds with lids) and polytunnels (hoops with plastic sheets draped over the top) here.
  
LATE SUMMER
Veggie seeds to sow outdoors
 : -
Many of these plants take just 20-30 days to mature and you can eat them as they grow. 

You can also sow seeds on a weekly basis for a continuous harvest.
  • Argula
  • Claytonia
  • Chicory
  • Endive
  • Mache
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Pak choi
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Tatsoi

These next ones may take a little longer to grow (30-40 days) for baby leaves, stems, and roots.
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LATE SUMMER
Herbs to sow directly outdoors (or use transplants)  : -
As mentioned, all of these are suggestions and results will depend on your growing zone and conditions.
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Mint (be careful, it’s usually invasive)
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
And that's it! Actually, there's more herbs and veggies than listed here, but this should give you a good place to start. And I really hope you'll try it.  

There's no reason why gardening should stop when summer does. 

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Autumn Vegetable Growing is Just the Beginning

See how you can continue food growing right through the winter and into spring either outdoors   or indoors . Because, if you love it, every season can be gardening season.
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More Creative Kitchen Garden Ideas

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And happy gardening to you!   

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