Vegetable Garden: Growing Cool-Season Vegetables
By: Julie Day
Though we tend to regard summer as the heyday for growing vegetables, cool-season crops in the spring and fall can be just as rewarding. The cool daytime temperatures and occasional light frost yield the sweetest, crispest, most flavorful vegetables around—stretching the summer bounty into an almost year-round smorgasbord.
Whether you want to get a head start on planting in the spring or extend your gardening season in the fall, cool-season vegetables are the perfect solution.
Knowing When to Plant
- Cool-season vegetables thrive when daytime temperatures average between 65°- 80° F, with nighttime temperatures staying above 40° F. Spring and fall (and winter in some areas) provide perfect conditions for these crops.
- Most cool-season vegetables can tolerate a light frost and are generally planted 2-4 weeks before your last frost date in the spring.
- Since hot temperatures make these vegetables bitter, or cause them to go to seed, plan your growing seasons to avoid harvesting when the temperatures climb above 80° F.
- If you shop carefully, you can buy seeds or plants with detailed information about germination, proper planting times, and maturity for that particular variety. Armed with this information, and your average first and last frost dates, you can plan your fall and spring harvests for just the right time.
- If you live where the summers are cool, you can plant successive crops and harvest straight through until the first heavy freeze in the fall. If your summers are hot, follow up your cool-season crops with a summertime planting of warm-season veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
Top 10 Easy to Grow Cool-Season Vegetables
Check out our top 10 most popular cool-season vegetables, with tips on how to grow them in your spring or fall garden.