Fall Planting for a Spring Vegetable Garden

Blubs in a vegetable garden
Last Updated November 27, 2023

Interested in planting a spring vegetable garden but feeling a bit overwhelmed? You are not alone! Deciding when to plant vegetables is challenging. Many people are under the impression that you must wait until the spring to start gardening, which isn’t always the case. Numerous vegetable plants survive in the winter, making fall a great time to start planting certain vegetables for a spring garden.

In this article, we’ll discuss vegetables to plant in the fall for a spring harvest. We’ll also include some helpful tips to make your spring vegetable garden a success.

Why Fall Planting Can Work Well

Contrary to popular belief, with proper planning and care, fall garden plants will thrive. This is because the ground remains warm for some time during the fall, allowing plant roots to develop and grow strong. Because there are fewer weeds in the ground during the fall, plants face less competition for crucial soil nutrients and rain at that time. Many vegetable plants do well during the fall and winter, so you can have a beautiful vegetable garden come spring.

What to Plant in the Fall

In order to harvest a bounty of fresh, healthy vegetables in the spring, you’ll need to make sure you plant the right vegetables in the fall. Not every type of vegetable can handle winter weather, while others actually require a frost to thrive. Here’s a short list of what to plant in the fall that you can pick and enjoy in the spring.

1. Kale

Kale leaves

Want some fresh leafy greens for your salads and smoothies in the spring? Kale is prized for its hardy nature. This nutritious veggie can thrive in the cold temperatures of winter and even survive freezing weather. Don’t worry if the head of the kale dies in cold temperatures. The roots can survive and will grow again in spring.

2. Chard


Similar to kale, chard is a hardy vegetable that does well in cold weather. This nutrient-rich veggie is filled with vitamins K, A, and C, along with magnesium, potassium, and iron. It makes a great addition to salads and smoothies and can even be dehydrated into healthful chips.

3. Onions


Onions nestle underground, and their roots can survive the winter season. When spring comes, the onions will begin growing. Just make sure you remember where you planted them by placing markers over your onion seeds.

4. Asparagus


Gardeners with plenty of patience on hand can plant asparagus in the fall. Just don’t expect your first crop of this fibrous vegetable in the following spring season. Asparagus takes at least two years to fully mature. However, your patience will be rewarded. Once planted, asparagus can continue to produce for over 25 years. That’s a lot of asparagus spears to add to your future soups and stir-fry meals.

5. Carrots


You’re already growing kale and chard for your spring salads. Add some carrots to the mix. Plant carrots in early fall to give them plenty of time to grow. They typically stop growing during the winter, so the earlier you plant them in the fall, the bigger the carrots you’ll get in the spring.

6. Perpetual Spinach

Spinach leaves

In spite of its name, perpetual spinach isn’t actually spinach. In truth, it’s a member of the chard family. The good news is that perpetual spinach is a low-maintenance vegetable and has a long growth cycle in the garden. It may not be spinach, but this healthful leaf provides plenty of roughage for your salads and veggie side dishes.

7. Garlic


It’s always good to have some fresh garlic on hand. Not only can garlic add amazing flavors to soups, roasts, pasta, and all kinds of dishes, but it also contains antioxidants and is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects. Fall is a great time to plant garlic. The bulbs will be ready in spring, allowing you to flavor your food with the freshest garlic around.

Gardener Hint: Add a layer of mulch on top of your garlic cloves to protect them from frost.

8. Turnips


Sliced turnips make an excellent healthful snack on their own and can also add a flavorful crunch to your salad. They’re also relatively low-maintenance. Since they grow underground, they can survive colder temperatures.

9. Shallots


Onions can take their sweet time to ripen and be ready to harvest. If you’re craving something from the allium family a little earlier, add some shallots to your fall garden. These crops tend to be ready in early spring and can continue to ripen throughout the season, so you always have some crunch to add to your salad.

Gardner hint: After harvesting your shallots, replant the largest one the next year to restart your crop.

10. Winter Lettuce


Most types of lettuce require a greenhouse if you want to grow them throughout the year. Don’t have a greenhouse or cold frame in the backyard? That’s okay. Several types of lettuce can survive cold weather, including:

  • Winter gem lettuce
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
  • Watercress
  • Arugula

Gardner hint: Plant your winter lettuce in a sunny spot in your garden. This will give it a head start in the spring, so you can start harvesting lettuce for your salads sooner rather than later.

11. Broccoli


Looking for another ingredient to add to your garden-fresh stir fry? Why not throw in some broccoli florets? Broccoli can survive through moderate and mild winter zones. Adding mulch around your broccoli if you live in a more moderate climate also helps your plants and their roots stay warm. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins C, K, and A. It also contains folate, potassium, manganese, and various antioxidants. It can be a healthful addition to your lunch or dinner plate.

12. Peas


Peas can flourish in areas that enjoy a mild winter. The great thing about this yummy vegetable is that you can plant them in the fall and spring, so you can get two rounds of peas. Just be aware that pea plants don’t hold up well in overly wet soil. If you get a lot of rain in the late winter or spring, you may find that your peas struggle to flourish.

13. Cabbage


Want to make some cabbage stew in time for St. Patrick’s Day? While cabbage can’t survive a harsh winter, it can do well in moderate and mild winters. Just keep in mind that this vegetable needs lots of energy to grow. You’ll want to add a little extra compost to your cabbages and even consider rotating them through your garden next season.

Gardener hint: Cabbage is a single-harvest crop. To make sure you have fresh cabbage throughout the spring, consider planting your seeds at different times.

14. Cauliflower


Cauliflower is an excellent snack, especially with the right dip on hand. You can also lower your carb intake by switching out rice for cauliflower rice. As with broccoli, cauliflower can survive moderate and mild winters and is usually ready by spring when you plant it in the fall. If you want to get the most for your effort, search for a cauliflower variety that can be cut and grown again rather than a single harvest variety.

When to Plant Vegetables

Though a few trees can be planted during winter months, fall garden plants need to become well established to survive the winter and make it through to the spring. Because of this, it is best to begin planting your fall plants about six weeks before the ground freezes. This date will vary greatly depending on where you live and the temperature fluctuations in your area.

As you decide to plant your spring vegetable garden, think about when the temperatures typically begin to drop within your area (when winter really begins to set in). Then, select the location and fertilize your soil so that your fall plants have plenty of time to get established and grow strong.

Related Topic: 5 Fall Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Start with Alliums and Root Vegetables

While it is exciting to dive into creating your very own spring vegetable garden, if this is your first year doing so, you should focus mainly on growing allium vegetables (such as onions, garlic, and shallots) and root vegetables (beets, carrots, and radishes). These types of vegetables are hardy and easy for beginners to plant in the fall, and they increase your chances for a bountiful crop in the spring. Once you have a successful yield, you can add more crops to your spring vegetable garden next fall.

Starting Seeds Indoors

Now that you know how to start your outdoor spring vegetable garden this fall, begin gathering the supplies and seeds you need to create a spring vegetable garden indoors too.

As with your outdoor fall garden, it is best to begin this process about eight weeks before the first frost. Make sure to use high-quality seeds. Place your seeds in the planting trays with some potting soil and plant food to ensure your seedlings get the nutrients they need to grow healthy. As long as the temperature where you’re growing your indoor plants doesn’t drop below freezing, starting plants indoors will expand the number of vegetables you can grow. These could include basil, cabbage, cilantro, eggplant, and tomatoes, as well as many others. Once your seedlings become established, make sure to provide them with consistent hydration and the appropriate amount of sun (based on requirements).

Related Topic: How to Winterize Your Landscaping

Brighten Your Winter Landscape

Now that you have decided to put your green thumb to work this fall, you can also brighten your winter landscape with the addition of some plants that thrive during the fall and winter months. In addition to your fall garden, consider adding some of the following silver fall plants:

  • 'Silver King' artemisia
  • Lavender
  • Russian Sage
  • Yellow Archangel
  • Licorice
  • Silver Poplar

Although extremely attractive on their own, silver fall plants work especially well in combination with many flowers, serving as a backdrop that can enhance colorful blooms throughout the year.

Silver plants also help brighten shaded areas of your landscaping where darker plants tend to get lost. When planted in combination with other plants, silver foliage provides a nice contrast. Many experienced gardeners have used silver plants in gardens that are meant to be enjoyed under the light of the moon.

Get Ready for a Delicious Spring Harvest

Knowing the vegetables to plant in the fall for spring harvest can ensure that you have lots of tasty and healthy vegetables on hand for the spring season. All you need is a little knowledge, planning, and organization.

Starting a fall garden can be very rewarding. It can also be a fun activity to do over the winter months and give you something to look forward to when spring arrives.

If you’re busy with your fall/winter garden and need help with the rest of your landscaping, the experts at The Grounds Guys® are ready to pitch in. Our full range of landscape services will ensure that your property looks its absolute best. We offer ongoing lawn maintenance, seasonal services, garden care, and more. Contact us to learn about all our services.

Our teams are friendly, reliable, and hardworking. The Neighborly Done Right Promise™ backs all our services, guaranteeing your satisfaction. We have local teams all across the United States who understand your growing region. Find your local The Grounds Guys team today to get a free estimate for all your landscaping and gardening needs.