Cool Season Crops
Grow edibles in early season and in fall
Vegetables that grow well in cool temperatures are perfect for late summer sowing for a fall or winter harvest or for a late winter or early spring sowing for an early summer harvest. These would include vegetables that might turn bitter during hot weather or quickly go to seed in hot weather. Any kind of greens or cilantro come to mind immediately.
For fall harvest, take into account when your first frost date is in the fall. Check the seed packets for how long it takes for the seeds to sprout and how long it takes until maturity. Add these days up and then I usually add 5-7 days onto that. Find out when your average first frost date is and then count back from the frost date and sow your seeds accordingly.
For spring and early summer harvest, check the seed packet for information on when to sow the seeds based on when your last frost date is. You can use a hoop house to help protect any young seedlings or to protect plants from an early frost in the fall.
I tend to have trouble with starting crops in the early Spring because our weather is so unpredictable and with the amount of snow cover that we get, it seems to take forever before the snow has melted. If this sounds familiar, then sowing seeds in late summer for a fall harvest may be the answer for you as well. It also gives you a chance to start over, so to speak, in case your heat loving vegetables didn't do so well or an early crop was infested with insects.
If you have a short growing season, choose varieties that have shorter days to maturity than other varieties. Look for varieties that might be dwarf in size, have smaller fruit or are listed as fast growing. Following are some of my favorites.
- Arugala (Roquette)- Garden Variety, 30-35 days to maturity; Myway, 30-35 days to maturity
- Beets - Early Wonder, 30 days to greens, 60 days to beets; Ruby Queen, 55 days to maturity; White Albino, 50 days to maturity
- Broccoli - Arcadia (best for fall growing), 63 days to maturity; Blue Wind (best for early spring growing), 49 days to maturity
- Cabbage - Stonehead, 65 days to maturity; Early Jersey Wakefield, 65 days to maturity; Ruby Ball, 71 days to maturity
- Carrots - Nelson, 56 days to maturity; Napoli, 58 days to maturity
- Cilantro - 60-70 days to maturity, handles light frost
- Cauliflower - Snow Crown, 50 days to maturity; Amazing, 68 days to maturity
- Chard - Bright Lights, 28-55 days; Peppermint, 33-50 days to maturity
- Collards - Morris Heading, 45 days to maturity; Champion, 70 days to maturity
- Green Onion - Evergreen Hardy White, 65 days to maturity; Guardsman, 50 days to maturity
- Kale - Siberian, 25-50 days to maturity; Starbor, 55 days to maturity; Red Russian, 25-50 days to maturity
- Lettuce - Bambi Bibb, 50 days to maturity; Wildfire Mix, 28 days to maturity
- Peas -Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea, 57 days to maturity; Sugar Sprint, 58 days to maturity; Maxigolt, 62 days to maturity
- Radishes - Miyashige, 50 days to maturity; Rover, 21 days to maturity
- Spinach - Red Kitten, 23-34 days to maturity; Flamingo, 37 days to maturity
- Turnips - Hakurei, 38 days to maturity; Scarlet Queen, 43 days to maturity