14 Best Vegetables to Grow in a Fall Garden

bunch of radishes

The Spruce / K. Dave  

If you're looking to add a little color and flavor to your life this fall, we have good news: You can start a seasonal vegetable garden in almost any climate, though your crops will vary depending on your location. Gardeners in hardiness zones eight and up, who have waited patiently through the hazy heat of summer, can finally get all sorts of vegetable plants started, including tender tomatoes and eggplant. Likewise, green thumbs in northern climates will find success growing vegetables that enjoy the cooler, shorter days of fall, like leafy greens, root vegetables, cabbage, broccoli, and kale.

In order to ensure your fall garden matures before the first frost, get it started in mid-summer (typically late July to early August, depending on your hardiness zone). There are tons of plants that will grow well in cool weather, but many need to be started while it's still a bit warm outside and the days are longer. You can either start your seeds in pots a bit early in a cool shady spot or look for seedlings at your local garden center and then transplant them into the ground when there is space freed up in your vegetable garden in the fall.

Get inspiration for your autumn bounty with these 14 vegetables perfect for your fall garden.

Plant your seeds deeper in the fall than in the spring. Typically, the ground is warmer having just come off the hot summer months—by planting your seeds a little deeper than the package suggests, you'll be able to get them down to where the soil is cool and moist.

Consider pelletized seeds. They're coated in clay and are available for vegetables that take a long time to germinate, like carrots. They retain water better than uncoated seeds, which means less watering and TLC for you.


Best Vegetables to Grown in a Fall Garden

  • 01 of 14

    Beets (Beta Vulgaris)

    beets growing

    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    As with all root vegetables, beets are best grown from seed, as you don't want to disturb the root once it has begun growing. Although beets will still grow in the summer heat, they can have a tendency to get bitter and woody quickly, so late summer to early fall is the best time to resume succession planting, at two-to-three week intervals. Beet bulbs will keep growing until a deep freeze, and even the tops can handle a bit of frost.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist
  • 02 of 14

    Bok Choy (Brassica rapa)

    Bok Choy Plants

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    Bok choy (as well as many other Asian greens), is well-suited to fall planting. The so-called "baby" bok choy varieties grow quickly, reaching about eight inches in height in around 40 days' time. They revel in the cool weather fall brings, as well as the decrease in pesky leaf insects that can sometimes influence their growth or success. Since they won't bolt to seed as quickly as they may in warm spring weather, you can harvest the heads as you need them.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 03 of 14

    Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

    broccoli in the garden

    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    Broccoli, like other cole crops, grows best in cool weather. Fall planting has two big advantages over spring planting when it comes to broccoli. First, although established broccoli plants can tolerate frost, tender broccoli seedlings are not as hardy and early spring frosts can shock or even kill them. Additionally, since the florets are flower buds, they will open more slowly in cool weather, giving you more time to harvest. Keep in mind, broccoli does take several months to mature, so transplant a quick-grower, like Waltham, in mid-to-late summer for a timely fall harvest.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, sandy
  • 04 of 14

    Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

    Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    There are two different types of green beans typically fostered by gardeners. Pole beans need a long growing season, allowing the vines to reach a mature height before they start setting beans. Bush varieties, on the other hand, will start producing in as little as 45 days, making them excellent candidates for a fall crop of beans. Bean plants are too tender to handle frost, so if an early frost threatens, toss a row cover over them until the temperatures climb again.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)

    cabbage growing

    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    Fall is the perfect growing weather for cabbage. While plants can grow in warmer weather, they need cooler temperatures in order to form a head. Cabbage needs anywhere from 90–120 days to mature, so a fall crop will be most likely if you transplant seedlings in mid-to-late summer. Most of the varietals in the cabbage family are hardy enough to handle a light frost so, with some protection, you can harvest them well into winter. Though they won't continue to grow when it's cold, they'll retain their freshness and get even sweeter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 1–9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 06 of 14

    Carrots (Daucus carota)

    harvested carrots

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Carrots are not the quickest growers, but some of the smaller varieties, like Thumbelina and Paris Market, will mature in about 50 days. Another option for growing traditional carrots is to sow them first in containers. Long window boxes with a depth of at least six inches are great for getting your seeds started until you can plant them in your garden in early fall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loose, well-drained
  • 07 of 14

    Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea)

    growing cauliflower

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Fall is typically a better time to grow cauliflower than in the spring, as the cool weather keeps the heads tight and more tender. Cauliflower is a slow grower, often taking between two and three months to mature depending on the varietal. Keep in mind that cauliflower can only handle a mild frost (if that), so you'll want to plant yours in time for a mid-fall harvest. Pluck the cauliflower from your garden when its head reaches the desired size and its buds are still tight.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–11
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained
  • 08 of 14

    Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala)

    curly kale

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Kale is probably the easiest cole crop to grow. The seeds germinate in warm or cool soil and it's grown for its leaves, so you don't have to worry about a head forming or the flowers bolting. The advantage of growing kale in the fall is the magic that happens to so many vegetables that are grown in cool weather or hit by a light frost—the leaves will still have a great texture and the flavor will sweeten and deepen. Start seeds for fall harvesting in mid-to-late summer or transplant in late summer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist but well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

    heads of lettuce

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Lettuce can be planted pretty much all season. Most varieties take less than 50 days to mature, so you can start planting ​a seed in mid-August and succession plant into the fall months. The plants may grow more slowly than in the spring due to shorter days and lower temperatures, but the flavor will be sweeter and crisper. Because lettuce has shallow roots, it will require some protection against frost. If you plant your fall lettuce in pots, it's very easy to move it indoors to protect it from freezing temperatures—otherwise, you can cover it with burlap or another netting if frost is expected.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist but well-drained
  • 10 of 14

    Peas (Pisum sativum)

    pea pods growing

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Peas are another vegetable that loves to luxuriate in cool weather. Many short varieties will be ready to harvest within 50 to 60 days. Plant them in mid-to-late August—pea seeds will germinate more quickly in warm weather, but they will also need more water and a little protection from the strong sun while they are young. By the time they are ready to start flowering and forming peas, the days and nights should be the perfect temperature in fall to keep them going.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 11 of 14

    Radishes (Raphanus sativus)

    French Breakfast Radishes

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    Radishes grow quickly in cool, moist soil. Most of the problems associated with growing radishes in the spring (like a woody texture, hot or bitter taste, and small size) will be alleviated by sowing them in the fall instead. You may also want to experiment with a few varieties of "winter" radishes, like the black Spanish radish, which tends to grow more slowly and prefers to be planted in mid-summer and allowed to develop into fall. Generally, you can harvest radishes in late fall or early winter, or allow them to over-winter in the soil and harvest next spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy
  • 12 of 14

    Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

    leafy spinach

    The Spruce / K. Dave 

    If you've been frustrated by your summer spinach bolting before it's even large enough to eat, you are going to love growing it in the fall. Spinach only takes about 30 to 40 days to mature (even less if you like small, tender leaves), so you can get in several successions of spinach throughout the fall months. Spinach seeds are also perfect for winter sowing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, moist but well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

    swiss chard growing

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    If you've already been harvesting your swiss chard as cut-and-come-again, you won't even have to reseed it for fall. The plants have probably slowed down a bit during summer, but with a little cool air and water, they'll ramp back into full production come fall. They may even survive the winter but harvest them quickly in spring before they start to bolt to seed and get tough and bitter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–10
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, rich
  • 14 of 14

    Turnips (Brassica rapa)

    turnip harvest

    The Spruce / K. Dave  

    Turnips are a root vegetable, meaning they need a long season (100 or more days) to mature. However, they grow the largest and most flavorful if they're allowed to mature in the fall. Since they're grown for their roots and their tops are fairly hardy, it doesn't matter too much if they get hit by frost—they may even end up tasting sweeter. Turnips mature a little faster than their cousin, the rutabaga, and don't improve if left in the soil too long, so succession plant and use as they mature.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy