Cool Season crops are planted anytime from a few weeks to a few months before your last late winter frost or before your first winter frost.
Except for the coldest areas, plant in late summer/early fall for a winter/spring crop.
Find out your fall frost info and when to expect your last spring freeze and learn the difference between cool-season and warm-season vegetables.
If planting from early fall, make sure your night time temperatures are 50F (10C) or below.
Cool-weather crops need cold temperatures to germinate and thrive in the cold weather, and some will even tolerate a light frost.
Cover the crops from a heavy frost with hoops made from irrigation pipes covered with frost guard.
Brassicas are those vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts. They are also called cruciferous vegetables.
Brassica seedlings will grow slowly, are frost-hardy, and well-established for late winter or early spring cropping.
Sow Brocolli directly in your vegetable garden with lots of organic matter with added coco coir and vermiculite to improve drainage.
Space them well as they will bolt if planted too close together.
Fertilize with liquid seaweed or fish fertilizer every three weeks. Wash away any aphids with warm soapy water.
Brocolli is easy to grow, and before you know it, the head will be ready to harvest. Harvest before they go to flower when they are about the size of your hand.
Brocolli will produce more heads and florets for harvesting, and don't forget that the entire plant is edible and nutritious. Prepare the broccoli leaves the same way you prepare kale.
Cabbage is a great fall and winter crop. Cabbage kept in the fridge can be kept for at least two months.
Space them with room to grow, and the heads will be bigger. If planting from seedlings, bury them deeper - up to the first set of leaves.
Check for holes in the leaves from caterpillars. Pick the caterpillar off and feed them to your garden birds or your chickens.
Give your cabbage poultry pellets or a liquid organic seaweed or fish fertilizer once a month.
If they get leggy - mound the soil up around them to the first set of leaves.
Cabbage is very versatile and high in vitamins - eaten raw or cooked. I love the red cabbage mixed with the green cabbage and added to your stir fry, salad or coleslaw.
Cauliflower will change from a creamy white to light yellow in strong sunlight.
To keep your Cauliflower white, once it has reached 4inches (10cm) in diameter, bend some of the top leaves over them and fasten with string. Harvest cauliflower before they get too big.
You can now grow Cauliflower and other brassicas in shades of purple, orange and green.
Cauliflower needs lots of water but does not like wet feet. When they wilt from too little water, they will stop growing.
Cauliflower is a long crop that takes four months (16 weeks) to harvest.
Brussel sprouts are easy to grow but take a long time to mature. They need at least 5-7 hours of sun and well-draining soil. Brussel sprouts need adequate nitrogen.
Space the plants about 10inches (25cm) apart. The taller the plant grows, the more brussel sprouts are produced.
When the brussel sprouts begin to form, remove - by pulling off most of the leaves from the bottom of the plant. Removing these leaves makes the plant use its energy for the sprout and not the leaves.
During the growing season, feed the plants with a liquid organic fish emulsion or seaweed emulsion.
Kale is one of the most productive plants in the vegetable garden and a potent superfood.
Kale is easy to grow because it is disease resistant and is less troubled by pests than other brassicas.
Kale requires fertile, well-composted soil and regular, plentiful water.
Curly leafed kale is one of those cut and come again plants that keep on giving. Cut from the outside, and it will continue to grow from the middle. Super health!
Scarlet Kale can grow in a freeze with some mulch, and you will get a super harvest in the early spring.
Salad Greens and Herbs
Salad greens are most affected by pesticide residues. Sow your crops of this easy-to-grow veggie and harvest as you need it.
Cut and Come Again Lettuce will be ready to harvest in about 20 days.
The herb cilantro or coriander, is known as a warm-weather crop but does well and lasts longer and has more flavor grown in the warmer winter climates.
Other cold-hardy herbs such as parsley, sage, oregano and thyme are perennials and grow back year after year. These are Mediterranean herbs and don't need a lot of watering.
If your summer temperatures are mild to warm, some leafy greens will do well if planted in the shade of other vegetables such as tomatoes, and make good companion plants. Remember to pick them regularly otherwise they will bolt in warm weather.
Mustard Greens are a good fall and early winter crop and a great addition to salads.
High temperatures will allow the mustard green to bolt. They can be grown in small containers as they have a small root system.
Two or three plants will give you a steady crop for the winter. Keep harvesting, and they will keep producing - as long as the temperatures remain cool.
The mustard greens have a slightly spicy taste and are usually cooked like kale.
There are many varieties of mustard greens - find one to suit your taste.
There are a wide variety of Arugula from the wild rocket to a french roquette.
Arugula (or rocket) will bolt in warm weather so wait until your nighttime temperature is 55C (12F) or below. Arugula does not like warm weather and will taste peppery.
Arugula will take 35-45 days to mature.
Each spinach seed has 3-5 seeds inside, so thin them out to one seedling once they are big enough.
Sow your seeds in fall and again in mid-winter for spinach all winter long.
Spinach is very greedy and needs rich well-composted soil to grow big dark green leaves.
There is a great variety of spinach to choose from in seed form or seedlings. I love to grow the bright lights swiss chard for the stunning colors they bring into the vegetable garden.
Pick the leaves from the outside, and it will keep producing from the middle.
Fall is the ideal time to plant garlic cloves and plant in rich, well-draining soil in a sunny spot.
In the Northern States, garlic will need to be planted in early September - States further south can be planted late September - way further south can plant garlic in October. You will need about 30 days before the first frost date.
Don't plant the clove deeper than 5cm and keep the pointed end upright and keep them well watered.
By early summer, you will have all the garlic you need for the rest of the summer.
Each seedpod has three or more seeds inside. Thin these extra seedlings out to one plant. Use these thinned-out leaves in your salad - they're delicious microgreens.
Beets do best in loose, well-prepared soil with lots of organic matter and need full sun.
The top of the beet peeps out of the soil while growing. Keep the soil moist and weed-free.
Garden Peas and Sugar Snaps are well-suited to cooler temperate climates. When temperatures exceed 70F (20C), most varieties of peas will stop producing pods.
Peas are always sown directly into your veggie bed in late summer to early fall.
Peas are part of the legume (Latin Leguminosae) family of vegetables, which extract nitrogen from the air and store it in little nodules along with their roots. When the plants finish cropping, dig the roots directly into the soil, where they will slowly decompose and release nitrogen for other plants to use
If you are in a warmer climate, another crop of peas can be sown in mid-winter.
Enter your Plant in well-drained soil amended with lots of organic matter. Provide your plant with something to climb on, such as a tripod.
Peas are very easy to grow and have hardly any pest problems. You don't even have to fertilize, but remember to harvest regularly, or they will stop flowering and stop producing delicious peas.text here...
Carrots are non-demanding and delicious when grown yourself.
Carrot seeds are small, and once they sprout, they need to be thinned out as the carrot is the root of the plant, and you don't want the roots to be crowded. Dig a funnel and mix the seeds with some soil or flour then sprinkle over the funnel - this should space them better.
Keep the soil well mulched to keep the soil warm, and it won't freeze.
Cover with frost protection if needed.
Carrots do not need any feeding as then the carrot will grow straighter and longer searching for nutrients.
Parsnips are sweeter than carrots and are an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, and antioxidants. They are an excellent winter crop.
Parsnips take a long time to mature - taking about four months to mature - but are extremely cold hardy.
Always purchase fresh parsnip seeds. Make drills or funnels about 1inch (2.5cm) deep and add some bone meal. Germination takes about two weeks. Thin them out to about 4inches (10cm) so they do not compete with each other.
No feeding necessary as the root needs to grow long in search of nutrients.
Roasted parsnips are delicious.
Bunching Onions or Spring Onion or Scallions
Bunching onion is the easiest crop to grow. They are a quick growing allium crop and don't require any nutrients and grow in any soil.
Plant them in bunches - about 6 or 8 in one planting hole - they like to grow in a bunch. Sow each bunch 4-5 inches (10-12cm) apart.
Sow at regular intervals every 3 or 4 weeks.
Cool Season Vegetable List
Artichoke, Asparagus, Beet, Bok Choi, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Chive, Cabbage, Cardoon, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chard, Chicory, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro (Coriander), Cress, Daikon, Dandelion, Endive, Escarole, Fava Bean (English Broadbean), Fennel, Garlic, Horse-radish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onion, Pak Choi, Parsley, Parsnips, Peas (English, Snow, Snap), Radicchio, Radish, Rhubarb, Rutabaga, Salsify, Scallions (Bunching), Shallot, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Turnip, Watercress.
Cool Season Crops Not Affected By Frost
Asparagus, Broad Bean, Brocolli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Collard, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leek, Onion, Pea, Radish, Rhubarb, Shallot, Spinach, Turnip.
Cool Season Crops Affected by Frost
Protect these vegetables from a heavy frost with frost guard.
Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Chinese Cabbage, Endive, Lettuce, Mustard, Parsnips, Potato, Swiss Chard
Living Green Manure
If you haven't grown cool-season crop this year, never leave the beds bare during winter. Instead, sow a green-manured crop like mustard, red clover, winter oats, or wheat, forming a living mulch.
As soon as the crop starts to flower, dig it into the soil, which will build up the soil's organic matter and add nitrogen and other minerals.
Once dug into the ground, leave for about four weeks to allow the first decomposition stages before planting vegetables.
Alternatively, let the soil rest by covering it with a very thick layer of mulch to protect and nurture the soil life.
In fall, nighttime temperatures should be below 50f (10F) before planting cool-season crops.
Some cool-season crops need to be harvested before the summer temperatures heat up.
Except for the coldest areas, plant in late summer/early fall for a winter/spring crop.