Growing vegetables in container gardens in the fall and winter can keep your kitchen thriving through the months when your local farmers markets and grocery stores are stocking wimpy, high-priced imported veggies. Choosing the right vegetables to grow on your porch or balcony makes all the difference in keeping your kitchen freshly stocked throughout the year, no matter what the temperature is. Here are eight vegetables to try planting in your fall container garden.
Greens and root herbs are the way to go with fall gardening. When you plant in September or early October, germination can actually happen more quickly since the ground is still warm. However, you may need to wait a few extra weeks for maturation if you're in a cold winter climate. Some of the best plants to grow in your fall containers are these hearty greens and herbs:
1. Arugula: These greens are so hearty, they're incredibly easy to grow. And since they're also super expensive at the grocery store, growing them at home is both tasty and frugal. Arugula is great in fresh green salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce.
2. Garlic: This root herb is a MUST in cold winter climates like the Northeast. These hearty little bulbs can thrive underground or deep in a container even under a layer of frost. And fresh garlic has so many uses in your kitchen, you'll never grow tired of these beauties. If you are low on space, you can even plant a small container inside your kitchen using just one clove of garlic! The clove will sprout and multiply in very small spaces. You should also try out windowsill gardening if you're tight on space for your kitchen garden.
3. Kale: A hearty and lovely green, kale thrives in fall and winter in all but the coldest climates. It's somewhat cold tolerant, so it will survive early winter gales. But bring it inside if the frost is persistent for several weeks in a row. If you're not sure whether this will work in your climate zone, check fall gardening guidelines by zone.
4. Spinach: Another hearty green, spinach is a favorite for salads and savory baked meals alike. Spinach won't survive the harsh winters of the Northeast, but will tough it out through the seasons in the rest of the U.S.
5. Asparagus: Both asparagus and brussels sprouts are long-term projects (think: a couple of years in your garden before yielding edible veggies). But, fall gardening is a great time to start these plants out. Start them now, when you have less containers to deal with and you'll be able to give them a little extra attention. And, in a couple of years, you'll have delicious asparagus to grill in the summer months.
6. Brussels Sprouts: These sprouts are a favorite in roasted winter vegetable mixes. They've gotten a bad rap over the years as an undesirable vegetable for picky kids. But roast them in a hot oven and let them caramelize a bit and you'll swear you always loved these sweet tiny cabbage-like treats.
7. Turnips: Root vegetables are a great choice for the cooler container gardening months. Deep in the soil of your larger container pots, turnips will keep warm and thrive. And they're also a great addition to those oven-roasted winter vegetable mixes.
8. Carrots: A family favorite, carrots survive larger containers by keeping warm deep in the soil. If it's possible, you might even try burying your container in the soil to keep it even warmer. Carrots are great raw or roasted or even grated into sweet treats like carrot cake and muffins.
If you have more space for a full fall vegetable garden, see what else you can plant this season. Don't pay too much for your vegetables because you think gardening is only for spring and summer! With these eight fall vegetables on your list, you'll have a thriving container garden to get you through the tough (and expensive) months at your farmers' markets and grocery stores.
image: Eat and Live Green