Gorgeous Swiss Chard, lettuces, and more from Blooming Glen Farms
Photo: Jason Varney

Cooler fall temperatures might make you think the time to grow your garden has passed, but these 5 flora are best planted now. Who says it's too cold to cultivate your own salad? 

Matthew A. Moore
October 17, 2017

It's fall, y'all, meaning most people are under the assumption it's that time of year to hang up the gardening gloves and call it quits on homegrown produce. Well, not so fast—it turns out there are actually an abundance of fruits and veggies you can plant now and enjoy all winter long.

Fall is the ideal time of year to plant root-based vegetables. Your standard beets, turnips, and carrots all do well because roots don't stop growing just because the sun takes the season off. Quite the opposite, in fact. This means fall is also a great time to plant flower bulbs. Putting tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils in the ground now means their roots will be established come springtime, and your yard will be bursting with color. 

But back to the fruits and veggies. Below are five of the best to plant this time of year. Just be sure before you start digging to consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map first, as varying regional temperatures affect what—and when—you should plant.

Blueberries

Yes, this is the perfect time of year to put your blueberry bushes in the ground. Planting in October means the bushes have several months to develop a strong root system, while the cooler temps and intermittent fall showers mean you won't have to water your bushes nearly as much as if you'd planted them earlier in the year. Case in point: I purchased eight blueberry bushes last May but waited to plant them until October, and come springtime I was able to enjoy deliciously fresh blueberries (after fighting off hordes of birds and chipmunks—if you're going to plant berries, buy netting).

Swiss Chard

Photo: Jason Varney

This versatile alternative to your run-of-the-mill lettuce can serve a dual purpose in your home garden. On the one hand, it's one of the healthiest leafy greens in existence, and it's tasty when served up as a side or to accentuate a protein-packed main. On the other, it's a veggie that adds some much-needed color to the ho-hum tones of the usual fall flora. Did I mention it's versatile?

Garlic

If fall is a great time to plant flower bulbs, then it stands to reason it's also an ideal season to get your garlic in the ground. This bulbous kitchen staple will grow throughout the winter and start peaking through your soil in the springtime. Bonus: You can easily plant it if you have an extra clove handy

Lettuce

Like ice cream, lettuce doesn't do well in the heat. Rather, it grows bitter and stops producing as many leaves, choosing instead to "bolt" and start producing seeds. And that's why it's better to plant it in the fall, when it's nice and cool outside. Your lettuce won't grow as fast in the cooler weather, but it will still yield sweet, crisp greens. Like most of the other produce listed here, they will require some protection in the event of a freeze. Cover your lechuga with a cardboard box, plastic sleeve, or a blanket, though, and it can keep producing.

Broccoli

Credit: maxx777/Getty

This one depends a lot on what plant hardiness zone you're in, but broccoli tends to thrive in cooler weather. The florets, which are actually flower buds, open slower in the cold than in the heat, so don't expect an immediate return on your harvest hopes. But if conditions are right, you can look forward to using fresh broccoli in your recipes throughout the colder months.

Now, what are you waiting for? Grab everything you need to start planting and head outside! Winter is coming...