Did you know that certain garden vegetables grow better during the cooler parts of the season? Veggies such as spinach, broccoli, and radishes can tolerate the cooler temperatures and usually end up tasting better too! In Colorado, cool-season crops can be planted at the beginning of the growing season or at the end of the growing season, either in the spring or the fall. So, get an early start and take advantage of our short growing seasons as much as possible!
Planting Veggies in the Spring
Be sure not to plant your veggies too early. While cool crops can tolerate mild frost, extremely cold weather can damage or kill them. You can always pull out some frost cloth if unusually cold weather is in the forecast, but this will not save your plants from long cold periods. Pick out garden vegetable starts or plant seeds directly in the ground as soon as it is warm and soft enough to dig. In general, it is best to wait to plant your cool crops until soil temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You can often get multiple rounds of fast-growing vegetables such as radishes or lettuce.
Planting Veggies in the Fall
When selecting which seeds you would like to plant, make sure to pay close attention to the number of days it takes a plant to reach maturity. In general, you can plant anything that takes around 60 days or less to mature. Any longer than that and the weather will likely become cold enough that the plant will slow its growth or stop growing entirely, often before it has had a chance to reach maturity or produce any fruit. If we happen to get a frost before you harvest your second round of vegetables, go ahead and cover them with frost cloth.
Veggies to Plant Now
The following list of vegetables are generally safe to plant in the fall. However, still be sure to read the back of seed packets before planting to ensure that the variety you have selected matures in less than 60 days. While most of the following garden vegetables mature quickly, there may be some varieties that have longer maturity periods and should thereby be avoided for fall planting.
One of our favorite types of broccoli for fall planting is Di Cicco broccoli. This Italian classic produces small to medium-sized heads and has delicious flavor. It has a 48-day maturity period, is perfect for fall harvests, and even freezes well! Shop these seeds today!
In general, beet seeds should be planted mid-summer through early fall, or about 4 to 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Beets are generally ready for harvest approximately 45 days from sowing.
Certain varieties of carrots are perfect for fall planting. Just make sure when you are looking at seeds to be sure to take notice of how long they take on average to reach maturity. Since they are root vegetables, they can tolerate some cold, but if it gets too cold before they reach maturity, you may be forced to harvest them early.
All sorts of cabbage are a great addition to any fall garden. Generally, cabbage should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first frost of the year. While some cabbage can take over 60 days to reach maturity, they are one of the most frost-tolerant cool-season crops, being able to withstand below-freezing temperatures for a short period of time.
While many different types of green beans are suitable for fall planting, Contender Bush beans are some of our favorites! This variety starts producing beans just 50 days from sowing, is disease resistant, and is one of the tastiest beans out there. It is sensitive to frost, so if cold weather is forecasted, don't forget to pull out some frost cloth!
Plant this Premier Blend kale for harvestable baby greens in just 25 days! This blend includes Dwarf Blue Curled, Dwarf Siberian Improved, Nero Toscana Lacinato, and Red Russian kale. This blend of kale is frost-hardy and a proven champion in the garden even when other crops are winding down for the season.
Did you know that kohlrabi is extremely high in vitamin C? One cup of Purple Vienna Kohlrabi contains approximately 140% of the daily recommended amount! They are very versatile in the kitchen, having a crisp texture with a flavor that is slightly sweet, nutty, and a bit peppery. Eat kohlrabi steamed, sauteed, picked, and even fresh!
Rhapsody Butterhead lettuce is perhaps one of the most delicious lettuce varieties out there! It matures in approximately 58 days, leaving you with rich, buttery rosettes known for their delicate texture and melt-in-your-mouth flavor.
When planting onions in the fall, combine whichever sets of onion bulbs you would like, but don't expect a harvest until next spring! Plant them in the ground and mulch them right before it freezes. You will have onions to harvest late in the spring of the following growing season.
Certain varieties of peas are great for fall planting. Plant Green Arrow shelling peas 10-12 weeks before the average first frost date for best results. This variety of shelling pea is frost-tolerant, disease resistant, and delicious fresh or frozen! Harvest your peas approximately 3 weeks after flowering when the pods are plump. Pods that are left on the vine for too long will become tough, so don't wait too long to harvest!
Radishes are a fantastic fall crop. They mature quickly, prefer cooler temperatures, and are even tolerant of any frost that may occur. Easter Egg Blend radishes are a particular favorite for more than just their fun colors. They grow a mix of red, white, pink, purple, and bicolor radishes that are delicious and appealing in a number of different dishes. Be sure not to wait too long to harvest or they will become pithy and hot.
Rutabaga is quite different from the rest of the crops we've discussed so far. This crop requires a long growing season and cool temperatures to reach maturity. Plant your seeds as early as late May or early June for a fall harvest.
Most varieties of spinach are great fall garden plants. Lavewa spinach specifically can be harvested in as little as 28 days, is frost tolerant, and can even be grown in containers! Lavewa spinach is also heat tolerant, disease resistant, and packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants!
Garden Rainbow chard is our favorite type for fall planting. Not only does it fill your garden with pretty colors, but it is a vigorous and long-lasting variety. It takes approximately 50 days to reach maturity and is delicious in a number of recipes.
Best Vegetable for Fall Planting in Colorado
This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you would like more ideas or information regarding what you can plant in your fall garden, give us a call, fill out a form on our home page, or come into the Garden Center! We are always happy to help in the decision-making process and will do all we can to help your fall garden be as successful as possible! Happy gardening, everyone!