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14 veggies for your fall garden

Choosing vegetables that are ready to harvest quickly gives your garden a real boost in the fall. Plant these in the late summer, and you'll be enjoying fresh, tasty vegetables before you know it!

To determine when to plant, start with the average first frost date for your area (find it at planthardiness.ars.usda.gov). Then look at the seed packet to see how many days the plant requires until harvest. Count backwards from the frost date and add a couple of weeks since some plants grow more slowly as the days become shorter. That’s your plant date.

Here are some options that do particularly well in fall gardens:

Arugula

This leaf lettuce has a peppery flavor and is a great addition to salads and sandwiches. It can also be used as a tasty garnish for all kinds of food, hot or cold. Other greens like Swiss chard also do well in fall gardens.

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Spinach

Spinach is one of the hardiest fall vegetables, and can grow into the early winter. When freezing weather arrives, stop picking leaves and protect with a plastic tunnel unless it will have a blanket of snow for most of the season. 

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Mustard greens

Considered a health "super food," mustard greens are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and iron. They have a mild mustard flavor and are a great addition to salads. Mustard greens are also used in many recipes.

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Turnips

Turnips are delicious right out of the garden, cut into slices. They can also be cut into chunks and added to pot roast or a pan of roasted vegetables.

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Radishes

Radishes come in many colors, sizes, and shapes, but they're all fun to grow and well suited to fall gardens, since they're often ready to harvest in less than a month. These spicy veggies are also good candidates for container gardening.

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Broccoli

Broccoli is packed with nutrients and easy to grow. Its frost tolerance makes it perfect for fall gardens. After harvesting the broccoli itself, leave the leaves on the plant. This often results in sideshoots, which provide a second or third crop.

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Carrots

Carrots are perfect for fall gardens because they get sweeter as the temperature cools. Pile mulch over them to prevent freezing, and you can harvest them into early winter.

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Beets

Beets are good for more than just pickling! Use these fall garden superstars in salads and soups, or roast them for a tasty and healthy side dish.

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Cauliflower

Like carrots, cauliflower also gets sweeter as the temperatures drop. Look for a new variety of purple cauliflower, which doesn't require blanching like most white varieties. 

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Green onions

Green onions, or scallions, are an excellent fit for fall gardens. You can either harvest them young and eat them right out of the garden, or let them grow until they're round and full.

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Cabbage

Cabbages can be found in many different colors and sizes. Late varieties such as "Vantage Point" are good for fall harvests, and the "Gonzales" variety is ready to harvest in about 60 days.

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Kohlrabi

You may not be familiar with kohlrabi, but it's always fun to try something new in the garden! A member of the cabbage family, most varieties are light green or whitish, but this "Kohlibri" variety has purple skin and blue-green leaves.

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Kale

Kale comes in many colors and varieties. It is packed with phytochemicals like lutein, which is linked to a reduced risk of eye problems. It is also used as a cancer-fighting vegetable, and it's rich in vitamin A, calcium, and potassium. 

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Herbs

You can grow almost any type of herb in your fall garden. Plant several different varieties in containers, and when temperatures dip below freezing, they can be moved to a sunny windowsill in the kitchen. Nothing jazzes up your favorite recipe like fresh herbs!

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