Summer may be winding down but that doesn't mean your harvest has to.
Start dreaming of winter salads and grow a lush, green, cold-weather garden. If you don’t have a cold frame you can still plant plenty of plants outside for a winter harvest. When temperatures drop and stay low, you can cover your crop with a fabric row-cover. It will raise the temperature around your plants a few degrees—the difference between life and death for some veggies.
If your lettuce bed is currently laden with summer’s harvest, fear not cool-weather gardener. Start your lettuce seed indoors under grow lights and plant outside once the first frost is near.
GROWING GUIDE: Start lettuce seeds indoor at any time, or sow outside when temperatures are below 80 degrees. Lettuce grows slower in cool weather, but with less risk of bolting.
Brassica oleracea var. sabellica
Kale is one of the cold-weather greens that gardeners swear taste better after a frost. Unlike tender, summer veggies, which are killed by a snap freeze, kale actually tastes better after a cold spell.
GROWING GUIDE: Start kale seeds indoor at any time, or sow outside in late summer for a fall harvest. Keep up with your kale and harvest when they’re still small (3–4 inches) or risk a tougher texture.
Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon
These cold-lovers are one of the first veggies of spring and last to stop producing in fall. Snap peas have thick, juicy walls and rounded shells (unlike flat snow peas) and are sweetest just off the vine.
GROWING GUIDE: Sow snap peas outside ten weeks before the first fall frost. If wet weather puts a damper on germination, reseed and try again. Provide netting or a trellis for support.
Commonly called the Welsh onion, this perennial scallion is actually native to China. It’s unique in that it does not bulb and grows well in containers. Green onions make tasty additions to many winter meals.
GROWING GUIDE: Start scallion seeds indoors 4–6 weeks before the first fall frost, then plant outside. Plant in loamy, organically-rich soil.
Garlic planted in fall will be harvested the following spring. It’s a wait, but it’s worth it. The greens of the growing garlic can also be harvested and used in place of chives.
GROWING GUIDE: Plant out garlic cloves in the fall, before the first frost. Amend the planting site with compost: It’ll help water drain faster and provide extra humus in the soil.
Curly parsley may have made a name for itself as the go-to garnish, but flat-leaved Italian parsley is where the flavor is at. It grows well in containers and in the ground.
GROWING GUIDE: Sow parsley seeds outside 4–6 weeks before the first fall frost. Parsley seed takes weeks to germinate so keep the ground moist while it’s doing its thing.