What to grow in fall

Green beans — also called string beans or snap beans. Tomatoes might head the list as the all time favorite vegetable, but green beans certainly come in second.

Since there is nothing much on Tending My Garden about growing green beans, one of my readers wrote to me and asked why I didn’t grow them. Well – I do grow them. But my planting schedule for green beans is a bit different than what most folks follow.

Here’s Why –

At the beginning of the growing season most of my garden space is taken up with onions, lettuces and other greens, peas, tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash, and potatoes.

Most of my allotted gardening time is taken up with planting, putting straw in the garden, checking for and killing squash bugs and potato beetles. And then there’s harvesting.

I couldn’t handle one more thing at the beginning of the season.

Over the years I’ve found green beans are much easier for me to deal with in late summer and fall.

Why I Plant in Mid-Summer

  • Most of the Mexican bean beetles seem to have gone back to Mexico. (Just kidding – I don’t know where they go.)
  • I have more space available in the garden.
  • Time-consuming crops like blueberries and strawberries and peas are finished, so I have time to harvest green beans.

Planting – Risks

I plant in the last half of June. And yes, of course I always run the risk of green beans not doing well because of drought, but when you plant any garden or any crops it’s all about risk and variables. Even this year we had a period of drought that lasted about 5 weeks and I thought the beans weren’t going to make it. Fortunately the rain came just in time to save them. Bottom line with planting is — if I don’t sow, I won’t harvest — so I plant.

Provider Bush Beans – This young planting has not yet produced.

Bush Beans or Pole Beans

Bush beans are my favorites. One year I planted pole beans and didn’t find them to my liking in any way. I have a friend who plants only pole beans and loves them. He would never plant bush beans. So it’s a matter of personal preference.

My Favorite Varieties

And by the way – in case you’re wondering – the varieties I grow are Provider Bush Bean, Bush Blue Lake, Contender Bush Bean, and/or Masai Green Bush Beans. Masai is my very favorite. But June, July and early August plantings of Masai don’t do well for me, so I plant them at the end of August. Sometimes I miss planting in August and will take a chance on planting as late as September 1st, like I did this year. If the weather holds, I’ll be fine. If I have to I’ll use row covers if a frost is expected. Still a good chance of getting beans to maturity.

Masai bean plants are a bit shorter, bushier, and can have a dozen long, straight, and tender green beans hanging at one time. They are the most beautiful and delicious bean I’ve ever had.

You can get the Masai green beans from Pine Tree Garden Seeds if you want to try them.

Strategy to Reduce Risks and Increase Chances of Success

To increase my chances of success and bounty, I put in 4 or 5 small plantings – about 3′ x 5′ every two weeks. This year the first planting was June 23, so I had a nice picking of beans towards the end of August.

This one row of Provider Bush Beans is really two plantings. (The first was planted June 23.) As of September 4th both have been giving me beans for almost two weeks.

By September, two rows were producing lots of beans for us to enjoy with every meal. The other earlier plantings have lots of blossoms and promises of many beans to come. Each planting should produce for about 3 weeks. If all goes as it appears, I’ll have beans until a freeze hits.

When are They Ready for Harvest

I usually start harvesting when the beans are about 3 to 4 inches. I missed checking them for a few days this year and by the time I got out there to pick they were a bit larger than I like.

Beans can become overgrown almost overnight. So it’s advantageous to harvest daily or at least every other day for best quality and taste. Also, the more you pick the more the plants will produce.

If they do begin to bulge and get plump before you get to them, use them for soups. I blanched and froze a pint from my first picking that were like that. But they’ll be great this winter in soups.

Green beans – ready to cook.

Best Time to Harvest

Pick your green beans either after the dew dries in the AM or after the sun is low in the late afternoon.

It’s stressful for the beans (or any vegetable) when you pick in the heat of the day — especially in high humidity and if temperatures are above 85 degrees or so.

Stay out of your beans when the leaves are wet from rain or dew. Pathogens that cause disease can stick to your hands, clothing and tools and you can carry them from plant to plant. Pick your green beans when leaves are dry.

Great for Your Soil

Green beans are legumes and can pull nitrogen out of the atmosphere and “fix” it in the soil. Your next crop in the same garden bed will enjoy the benefits of having nitrogen available for use.

When your beans are finished, cut off the foliage and compost. Leave the roots in the ground until next season for more benefit to your soil. You can also turn the entire plant under if you want. (This will not apply to any planting of beans that is infested with Mexican bean beetles or any disease.)

Two More Tips

  • If you’ve planted peas or green beans in a garden bed, use different beds for peas or green beans for the next two years.
  • If one of your plantings of green beans becomes diseased or heavily invested with Mexican bean beetles, take them up and out of the garden to help prevent future infestations. (Do not compost. Bag and throw away.)

Final Thoughts

If you have more to do at the beginning of the season than you can handle, but love green beans like I do ——- try my planting schedule. I thinking you’ll really enjoy having this taste of summer to spice up your fall meals and garden.

Growing Autumn And Winter Vegetables

Autumn and Winter vegetables to plant

In most regions Autumn is the perfect time to sow:

  • Asian Greens
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Cress
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflowers
  • Endive
  • Kohl Rabi
  • Leek
  • Lettuce
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Parsnip
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Silver Beet
  • Snow Pea
  • Spinach
  • Swedes
  • Turnips

Shop for Autumn and Winter Vegetables here

The following are some of the key considerations for growing vegetables through Autumn & Winter.


Sunlight is very important for all vegetables – fruiting and flowering vegetables require the most whilst leafy and root vegetables require less. Remember that the sun is lower in its path across the sky in Winter, resulting in an increased amount of shade, especially if your garden has trees or high structures around it. Therefore position your Winter garden in the sunniest section of your property, as long as it is not exposed to high winds or frost. If your garden gets very little Winter sunlight, focus on growing leafy vegetables such as Lettuce, Spinach and Pak Choi, and root vegetables such as Onions and Parsnip.


Frost has a critical impact on most plants, especially young ones that are fragile to temperature extremes. If you live in a climate with regular frost, ensure plants are established early so they can tolerate the temperature changes better. Some vegetables can tolerate a bit of frost and for some it even improves the taste, for example, Snow Pea and Parsnip.

Timing your planting

Getting your plants underway early before the cold weather sets in can help with increasing their robustness to cope with temperature extremes. However, beware of warmer season pests such as caterpillars and snails.

It is important to recognise the full growing period of your plants. Consider what the weather conditions are from planting the seed to expected harvest. Some of the leafy vegetables are ready for harvest in as little as 6 weeks, while some root vegetables can take 18 weeks to mature. Check the seed packet for further details.

Pests and diseases

There are fewer pests and diseases in the cooler part of the year, giving you much needed relief from constant pest control. However, continue to ensure good air circulation through adequate spacing to minimise growth of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, and avoid watering the leaves of the plants as trapped moisture will harbour diseases.


Another advantage of growing in Winter is that less watering is needed due to lower evaporation rate. You may only need to water your plants during longer dry spells. Feed your plants with organic matter such as manure, fish or seaweed solution every few weeks to encourage rapid growth and maximise your crop.

Once you have harvested your garden look to plant green manure crop which will improve the soil structure and nutrient levels prior to your Spring sowing. Dig them into the soil when mature to provide nitrogen and organic matter as they rot.

Why not try the NEW Mr Fothergill’s Online Garden Planner or App to help with the planning of your Autumn/Winter vegetable garden.

As an Amazon Associate, GrowJourney earns from qualifying purchases. Read more: terms of service.

What are the easiest garden plants to grow in the fall and winter? In this article, we’ll help you figure out how to keep garden-fresh produce on the table no matter how cold and dreary it is outside!

A beautiful head of purple cauliflower growing in your fall or winter garden is sure to cheer you up on a cold, dreary day.

For most of us, gardening is a seasonal activity. We dig our tools out of storage in early spring and put them away for the winter shortly after those mountains of autumn leaves become fuel for a bonfire, or better yet, compost.

But wait a minute! When gardening consists of seed catalogs and cups of hot cocoa from November until March, you’re missing out on a great opportunity…

That’s right, unless you garden where the weather consists of punishing cold sub-zero temperatures, you can raise vegetables straight through, from fall until spring.

‘Red Orchid’ radicchio, a variety of chicory, harvested from our winter 2017 garden. These beautiful, nutrient-rich greens were added to a mixed green salad with nutritional yeast and a balsamic-olive oil dressing.

Year round gardening

You don’t need to be a master gardener to grow vegetables during the cold “off seasons.” In fact, cool/cold season gardening is an ideal project for experienced planters as well as those who are newcomers to the gardening world.

Kale yeah! ‘Dazzling Blue’ kale looking beautiful on a fall day.

Two of the best benefits of growing vegetables during the fall and winter:

  1. Reduced pest insect pressure – Most insects pests are safely tucked away until spring, meaning you don’t have to stress about insects eating your plants.
  2. Reduced disease pressure – Likewise, many plant pathogens and diseases are dormant in the cold months as well. Top-dressing your garden beds with good compost before planting helps introduce beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other microbes that help to further reduce or even eliminate disease pressure all together.

If you start doing a lot of fall and winter gardening, you may also want to start making your own probiotic sauerkrauts in a fermentation crock.

In short, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of edible plants that you can grow in your garden – and you may even find that you like fall and winter gardening better than warm season gardening!

The easiest garden plants to grow in the fall and winter

What are the easiest garden plants to grow in the fall and winter?

There are literally hundreds of viable plant choices for edible gardening during the cold months. Deciding what to grow is mainly a matter of personal preference.

Another consideration to keep in mind: try to grow a balance of plants so that you get a diversity of foods, including:

  1. leafy greens (for fresh eating)
  2. braised greens (for cooking)
  3. roots
  4. florets
  5. herbs

This way, you don’t get bored with what’s on your dinner plate. You also get more nutritional diversity, which translates to a broader range of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients.

Mustard greens, lettuce, and chicory harvested on a freezing cold day.

Finally, keep in mind that one variety of the same plant may be more or less cold-hardy than another variety.

For instance, some varieties of kale can survive uncovered into single digits, whereas other kale varieties will die when temps go into the teens. So when selecting seedlings or seeds, pay attention to the description and relative hardiness of each variety.

Below are our recommendations for the easiest garden plants to grow in the fall and winter:

A beautiful sampling of some of the leafy greens you can grow in your fall and winter garden, including different varieties of kale, spinach, lettuce, chicory, and even wild chickweed!

    • Spinach is a very fast-growing, cool weather vegetable. We’ve had spinach survive uncovered down to single digits (although it stops putting on new growth at these temps). You can even plant spinach seeds in a pot near your kitchen door. Fill the pot with a good quality potting mix, and of course, be sure the pot has a good drainage hole in the bottom. Sauté that fresh spinach in a little butter or olive oil with diced garlic. Or eat it raw in spinach salad. The ideas for using fresh spinach are endless.

      Fresh spinach tastes so sweet and delicious after a freeze!

    • Kale – There are sooo many different wonderful kale varieties out there, and our cold weather garden is always loaded with kale. Some of our favorite varieties: White Russian, Red Russian, Lacinato, Dazzling Blue, Blue Curled Scotch.

      ‘Bear Necessities,’ a strikingly beautiful kale variety we tried for the first time in 2017.

    • Chicory – A truly under-appreciated leafy green in the US, but very popular elsewhere in the world. Chicory’s slightly bitter leaves are best in the cold months when they sweeten up. Like other cold weather garden plants, chicory uses sugar as a cellular anti-freeze, which is why it tastes better harvested after cold weather. There are chicory varieties grown for their frilly leaf greens, to be harvested as heads (like a small cabbage), and even for their edible roots. Not quite as cold-hardy as spinach and kale, but still worth growing.

      Chicory comes in an amazing array of sizes, shapes, and colors.

    • Lettuce is probably the least cold-hardy plant on the “leafy greens” list, but will generally tolerate light frost. As with the other plants on this list, there are varieties of lettuce that have been bred to be more cold-hardy than others.
    • Arugula is a spicy salad green that some people don’t care for, but we happen to love. We add it to cooked dishes (like lasagna). We also eat mounds of raw arugula in mixed green salads or by itself (this homemade vinaigrette dressing cuts arugula’s natural heat). ‘Astro’ is the probably the most popular annual variety of arugula, but we love growing Sylvetta arugula as well, a low-maintenance perennial that will live for 3-5 years. Both types of arugula will die in deep freezes, but Sylvetta will grow back as soon as temps start warming in late winter-spring. It does readily re-seed so be careful!

      Beautiful, lacy Sylvetta arugula leaves pack an incredibly intense flavor and are considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense greens in the world.

    • Austrian Winter pea shoots should be grown in every winter garden. This variety is much more cold-hardy than other peas and it’s tender growth tips taste as good as if not better than sugar peas. As it warms up in late winter and spring, the plant produces flowers and peas as well, but the peas are better for soup than fresh-eating, hence why it’s in the “leafy green” category.

      Austrian winter pea shoots are a winter green that have the texture of soft lettuce and the flavor of sugar snap peas.

2. Fall and Winter BRAISED GREENS

  • Collard Greens are a winter staple in the south. They’re also part of our region’s New Year’s tradition – southern folklore has it that eating collard greens will bring you financial luck in the new year.
  • Mustard Greens might be a little to spicy for people to enjoy raw, but they’re amazing when properly braised. They’re not as cold-hardy as collard greens, but have a similar hardiness to lettuce. Two of our personal favorites: ‘Red Giant’ and ‘Golden Frill.’

    Now that’s a beautiful leaf! ‘Golden Frill’ mustard.

3. Fall and Winter ROOTS

A beautiful assortment of cool weather root crops: radishes, beets, and turnips.

*Our favorite way to cook fall and winter roots is to rough chop them, put them in a bowl, toss them with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder, then roast them in the oven on 375° until softened and slightly browned. We often use all four root crops listed below in the same batch of root veggies, with the addition of onions, garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and/or white potatoes. So good!

  • Carrots – Who isn’t familiar with carrots since they’re in every grocery store throughout the year? So why grow carrots? When you grow them in the cool months and eat them soon after harvesting from your garden, the flavor is so much better than what you get from a grocery store. Our recommendation: grow heirloom carrot varieties and also grow different colored carrots: orange, red, purple, yellow, etc.
  • Parsnips – We think parsnips should have far greater popularity than they currently do. A close relative to carrots, but with a distinctive, sweet-earthy flavor that is divine. Only downside: they take longer to mature than carrots so you’ll need some patience.
  • Turnips & Radishes are garden and farmers market staples for good reason. They’re easy to grow and fast growing, with some varieties yielding a harvest in as little as 30-45 days, which makes them an awesome choice for succession planting.

    ‘Tokyo Market’ turnips, a fast-growing and delicious turnip.

  • Rutabagas are similar to a turnip, but with a more nuanced, sweeter flavor. Personally, we like them better than turnips from a flavor standpoint. However, as with carrots vs parsnips, rutabagas generally take much longer to mature than turnips (especially salad turnips).

    Roasted root veggies: a fall and winter favorite.

4. Fall and Winter FLORETS

Purple sprouting broccoli.

  • Cauliflower and broccoli are fantastic choices for cool weather gardening. Don’t just think white cauliflower and green broccoli. Cauliflower comes in a wide range of colors, from purple to orange. There is also purple broccoli. Another great feature of both of these plants: the leaves are edible and quite delicious braised or raw. Don’t harvest too many of the leaves, however, as this will take away from the plants ability to put energy into forming florets.

    Broccoli floret under melting snow.

5. Fall and Winter HERBS

  • Cilantro is often associated with summer and Latin American cuisine, but it actually thrives in cool/cold weather, not heat. It wasn’t thrilled, but we’ve had cilantro survive uncovered down into single digits. As with most plants, homegrown cilantro tastes so much better than store-bought. Another reason to grow cilantro: when the weather warms in late winter-spring, the young green seeds are delicious, offering floral-fruity notes. You can also leave the seeds to mature and turn brown, producing the spice called “coriander.”

    Baby cilantro (back) starting to come up in a fall-winter veggie patch. (Mache in the front.)

  • Parsley is another super cold-hardy plant that packs a load of flavor and nutrition. As with cilantro, our parsley patches keep trucking through single digit winter temps. Fresh parsley tastes so good we often eat it raw in the garden.

    Want to make your other winter veggies taste even better? Add fresh parsley. Here are roasted carrots and parsnips garnished with fresh parsley and finger lime pearls.

  • Scallions, Bunching Onions, and Green Onions are usually just different names given to the same cold-hardy plant. It’s awfully nice being able to walk out your front door to snip fresh ones whenever you need them. Even if the greens die back to the ground during extreme cold weather in the north, they’ll pop right back up as soon as the ground thaws in spring. Since we eat so many alliums, we always have perennial patches of these onion plants growing in containers and in our front beds for easy access.

    A great way to add flavor to any salad or dish is with a garnish of freshly-harvested green onions. You can see a generous topping of diced scallions applied to this wintertime mixed green salad.

We hope our list of the easiest garden plants to grow in the fall and winter helps you garden straight through the cold months. Obviously, we didn’t include EVERY edible cold weather garden plant available, and there are plenty of others for you to explore.

If you’d like to make your fall and winter gardening even easier and more productive using season extension supplies, check out these two articles:

  • Winter Gardening Tips from Master Gardener Eliza Lord
  • Winter Gardening With Low Tunnels

Beautiful greens growing in winter under “low tunnels” in our garden. Low tunnels are super easy to install and very inexpensive. They pay for themselves many times over in a single year due to the increased yields they allow.

Also, if you get really serious about growing lots of your own organic food year round, you might want to check out our How to Make Your Own DIY Grow Lights article.

Another great tactic for improving your fall and winter garden yields is to start your own seedlings under an indoor grow light setup. Here you can see lots of fall and winter veggie seedlings we started under grow lights.

Happy cold weather gardening!

As summer progresses there are fewer warm season crops that you will be able to plant and still have a dependable harvest. A late planting of beans is one crop you can usually plant in mid summer and still get a harvest.

When putting in a late planting of beans you need to keep a couple of things in mind.

1. The days to maturity of the variety you have choose.
2. The declining amount of sun as you move towards fall.

What varieties to choose for a late planting of beans

In order to be successful with a late planting of beans you really need to have at least 75 days until your first real threat of frost.

This also means you need to choose varieties that have a pretty short maturity date. Green beans will really be your only choice for a late planting of beans. And I would recommend that you choose bush varieties not pole beans.

Bush beans spend a lot less time growing plant material and seem to just get in to the business of growing beans a lot quicker. There are a lot of tasty varieties of bush beans that have maturity dates right around 60 days. I would suggest choosing one if these varieties. To learn more about growing green beans check out my complete guide to green beans!

Declining sun light as fall approaches

One thing to keep in mind when putting in a late planting of beans is the declining amount of sunlight as fall approaches. In mid summer we hardly even think about shorter days. But as your late planting of beans progresses day-length will become an issue. Be sure to add at least 10 days to your maturity date before deciding what varieties to plant and when.

Choosing the latest date for planting

As a warm weather vegetable beans are very sensitive to frost. So the planting date you choose for your late planting of beans needs to be based off your average first frost date.

Find the days to maturity for the bean you have chosen on the back of your seed package. In the case of the variety I’m planting this year the days to maturity is 60. Add 10 days to that number to account for the declining sun light 60+10=70.

So my beans need at least 70 days to mature. My average first frost date is October 1st. So counting back 70 days gives me July 20th. So my absolute drop dead date for planting beans is July 20th. But I want a little time for the plants to develop a good sized harvest so just for good measure i add another 10 days. So my goal is to in my late planting of beans by July 10th. For my area this is really as late as I can go.

So now find your own last frost date and count backwards at least 70 days and you will find when you can put in a late planting of beans.

A late planting of beans is a great way to fill some empty space in your summer garden. Smaller bush bean plants fit well into a mature garden and are a great option for rounding out your summer garden.

Most Read

Easy to grow and tasty to eat, beans are a top backyard crop. Part of the legume family, these podded vegies are a good source of vitamins B and C, and fibre.

Fast growers, they provide abundant fresh food for little work, adding colour to the vegie patch when in full flower and laden with pods.

Late spring is the time to sow seeds for a summer harvest but you can grow beans all year in tropical to subtropical regions and spring to autumn in temperate to cool climates.

Beans are at their most tasty and sweet right after picking, before their natural sugars turn to starch. Harvest pods when young to prevent them getting tough and stringy.

TIP Beans freeze well and varieties like kidney and haricot can be dried.

to get the recipe for this light and tasty Three Bean Salad with Lemon and Walnut Dressing

Beans are divided into two main types called French and runner. Both have climbing and dwarf bush plants.

FRENCH varieties include snap, string, kidney, haricot, borlotti and more.

The pods range from long and thin to full and fat in green, yellow, purple and red, and the beans also come in different colours.

RUNNER or perennial beans grow and produce all summer and autumn then die down in winter when they go dormant, emerging again in spring.

Most are climbers that feature red flowers and large seeds in green pods. Certain types have white, pink or multicoloured blooms.

TIP Runner beans are hardier than French and better suited to cool areas.

How to grow

French and runner beans are frost tender, warm-season crops. Don’t grow them where you have raised beans or peas in the last few years.

SOW seeds 50mm deep in moist soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7 in a sunny position sheltered from wind. Dig in well-rotted compost first then make a trench.

Space dwarf varieties every 200mm in staggered double rows, and climbers 300mm apart.

Earth up the soil around the stems of dwarf seedlings and give climbers some support.

WATER regularly in hot weather to prevent wilting. Increase water when in flower and the pods begin to swell, making sure the soil never dries out.

MULCH seedlings by spreading organic matter on top of the soil to retain moisture and promote growth.

HARVEST from eight to 12 weeks when the pods are 170mm or shorter, so they’re young and tender.

Dwarf varieties crop for a shorter period than climbers.

Picking beans regularly, two or three times a week, encourages new flowers and more vegies.

WATCH FOR slugs and snails, picking them off the leaves of young plants.

Plants can suffer from fungal diseases like bean rust. If leaves drop, wither or yellow, and brown or red spots appear on the foliage, pods and stems, apply a fungicide.

TIP To prevent fungal issues, water at ground level, rotate crops and choose disease-resistant varieties.

Harvesting seeds

Let bean pods hang on a healthy plant for as long as possible before the risk of any autumn frosts then pick and remove the seeds from the pods.

Put them in a paper bag then label and store it in an airtight container in a cool place until planting time next spring.

Choosing a variety

Grow the beans that you like to eat, choosing a variety to suit your climate and space. Pick dwarf varieties for pots and grow climbers in beds with supports.

Jade stringless

  • French dwarf variety
  • Round pods up to 170mm long
  • Disease resistant
  • Rich flavour

Cherokee wax

  • French dwarf variety
  • Fleshy yellow pods
  • Good yields
  • Full flavour


  • French dwarf variety
  • Red and green streaked pods
  • Pick young as a green bean
  • Excellent for drying

Scarlet runner

  • Climbing runner bean
  • Red-flowering early variety
  • Large, bright green pods
  • Heavy cropper that needs support

Purple king

  • French climber
  • Long purple pods to 180mm
  • Needs a tripod or canes
  • Heavy bearer

Painted lady

  • Climbing runner bean
  • Bears orange and white flowers
  • Heirloom seed type
  • Long, tender green pods

How to plant runner beans

Ideal for small gardens, runner beans take up little room if they’re grown on a tripod or wigwam. Plants tied loosely when they are young will usually climb naturally.

Spring breezed by and suddenly it’s summer. If you didn’t find time to plant a garden this spring, don’t fret. It’s not too late to plant a vegetable garden. Gardeners can plant vegetables in July and August for a fall harvest.

What to plant

Days to Maturity is the number of days a plant needs to grow from seed to harvest. If you start the seed indoors and then transplant it in the garden, additional growing days are required. When determining what to plant, make sure there are enough growing days for plants to reach maturity before a hard freeze hits. Locate the Days to Maturity on the seed packet, and find your area’s frost schedule at the National Weather Service website. Count backward from the freeze date to ensure your plants have adequate time to grow to maturity.

TIP: Days to Maturity vary within a cultivar group. For example, cultivars of broccoli range from 70-200 Days to Maturity. If the number of growing days is limited, plant Broccoli Raab (70 days to maturity) or Sprouting Broccoli (120 days to maturity) to get a good crop before the hard freeze.

Vegetable crops are categorized as warm-season or cool-season. Warm-season crops, like sweet corn and tomatoes, are most successful when planted to reach maturity when the weather is warm. Cool-season crops are planted to reach maturity when the weather is cool. In zones 5 and 6, it’s best to plant cool-season crops in summer to reach maturity in fall.

Crops to plant in summer:

  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Scallions
  • Radicchio
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Turnips
  • Cauliflower

Extend the season

Season extenders can prolong the life of your garden. Row covers are made of lightweight fabric. They protect plants from frost damage while allowing sun, moisture and air to pass through. Row covers are inexpensive and can be reused for multiple seasons. Agribon row covers come in four grades: AG-19, AG-30, AG-50, AG-70. AG-19 protects plants to 28 F and provides 85 percent light transmission. AG-70 protects plants below 24 F and provides 30 percent light transmission.

Cold frames and low tunnels insulate and protect plants from harsh weather. The temperature inside cold frames and low tunnels can be up to 10 degrees warmer without adding supplemental heat. Homemade versions are easy to construct out of common hardware store materials or leftover items found around the farm. Download plans for a DIY low tunnel here.


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Favas are a favorite bean all over the Mediterranean, but especially in Italy, where they are used for soups, stews, salads. They can be eaten as fresh shell beans, or left on the plant longer to dry. Unlike other beans, which need warm soil and weather to succeed, favas need to be grown in cool weather.

Culture. The fava bean is a cool-season annual legume and is usually planted February and March in California for vegetable use and September to November for cover crops. The plant is resistant to frost damage to at least 21 degrees F, so plant as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. When grown for seed production, the crop takes 4-5 months to mature, depending upon the planting date. Optimum growing temperatures are 70-80 degrees F. Pinch top shoots as plant begins blooming to encourage an earlier and larger crop. They mature in 80-90 days. Plants may require support. Try cutting the plant to 2 inches after harvest. This permits regrowth and a fall harvest.

The seeds should be planted about one to two inches deep (large varieties) into well prepared soil, three to five inches apart. Germination takes place in 7 to 14 days. Since they will grow into small bushes, the sprouted seeds should be thinned to 8 to l0 inches apart (this may not be practical), allowing two to three feet between rows for seed production.

Diseases and pests. Avoid working in the bean patch when foliage is wet. This limits disease spread. Over fertilization may foster mold disease infection. Rotating beans with other vegetables reduces buildup of soil-borne root diseases.

Black aphids prefer fava beans, but pinching the top shoots as the plant begins blooming discourages black aphids that favor the soft, top growth.

Harvest, use and storage. Select the pods when they are green, thick and have a glossy sheen. These should be well filled with large beans. The raw bean can then be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two. For preparation to cook, remove beans from the pods and then hull the beans. The hull is the thin outercoat (pericarp) around each seed. Beans can then be cooked in boiling salted water for 20-25 minutes in a covered saucepan. Savory herb also makes a good addition. Other methods of preparation similar to lima beans are satisfactory. Also, young, fresh fava beans can be cooked without hulling.

For more information on fava beans, go to:

Yesterday I planted 2 packets of Windsor Fava Beans in front of the chicken coop area.

In a week or so when the beans start to pop through the soil I’ll set out the Swiss chard and kale plants in front of the fava. Fava bean plants can get as high as 4 feet tall, so I think the fava bean, kale and Swiss chard combo will look pretty cool once everything is at the peak of its growing season.

I haven’t grown fava beans in ages, so I’m pretty excited about growing them this year. Now that we have a boatload more garden space carved out in the backyard I’ll be able to try all sorts of new veggies. I’m excited!

If you have never grown fava beans before, here is how to do it:

Brief description: Fava Beans are also known as Broad Beans, Field Beans or Windsor Beans. The beans are sweet, sized like a lima bean, and best when harvested and grown in early spring.

Where to Plant Fava Beans: Fava Beans are a cool season plant. They can be planted in garden beds, raised beds and containers.

Planting Seeds: Seeds must be soaked for 12-24 hours before sowing. Then sow seeds 1″ deep. When seedlings are 1″ tall, thin to 1 bean every 4″-6″.

Growing Tips: Plant in a full sun area. Plants do best when temperatures do not get above 60-65 degrees. Fava Beans do not need fertilizing, so long as they are planted in quality soil. They like well drained soil and should be watered just before the soil completely dries out. Do not over water, though.

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How to Harvest: Fava Beans have different harvest times depending on how you plant on using them. When harvested young, the entire pod can be eaten. In the middle, they are best shelled and cooked, and finally, you can wait until the shell turns hard and brown to store the beans dry. To harvest, pick as you would a snap bean.

I think I’m going to do a little of both this year, eat some fresh, and also dry some beans to use later this winter in soups.

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!


Here are a few Fava Bean recipes to try:

Arugula and Fava Bean Crostini

Grilled Rainbow Chard with Fava Beans and Oregano

Fact: Did you know that there is a small population with a genetic condition called Favism? People who have the conditions should not consume Fava Beans. Who knew?!

Fava Bean Planting – How To Grow Fava Beans In The Garden

Fava bean plants (Vicia faba) are among the oldest known cultivated plants, dating back into prehistoric times. A traditional staple food, fava plants are indigenous to the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. Today, growing fava beans can be found in Central America, North America and up into Canada, which is actually the largest producer of fava beans due to its cool temperatures. Okay, but what is a fava bean? Keep reading to learn more.

What is a Fava Bean Plant?

Fava bean plants are actually a relative of vetch, which unlike other bean types has no climbing tendrils. Fava bean plants are upright bushy plants attaining a height of between 2-7 feet tall with large, fragrant white to purplish blooms.

The fava bean itself looks similar to a lima bean and is up to 18 inches long. The large seeded varieties bear 15 pods while the small seeded types of fava bean plants have about 60 pods. The seed pods of the fava bean plant have a shelf life of three years when stored in optimal conditions.

Fava Bean Uses

Growing fava beans are a cool weather annual crop known by a plethora of names such as:

  • Horse beans
  • Broad beans
  • Bell beans
  • Field beans
  • Windsor beans
  • English Dwarf beans
  • Tick beans
  • Pigeon beans
  • Haba beans
  • Feye beans
  • Silkworm beans

In Italy, Iran and areas of China, fava bean planting is done to provide food, while in North America it is primarily cultivated as a seed crop, livestock and poultry feed, cover crop or green manure. It may also be roasted and ground and then added to coffee to extend it. The dry fava bean is 24 percent protein, 2 percent fat, and 50 percent carbohydrate with 700 calories per cup.

In New Orleans where the fava bean arrived from Sicily in the late 1800’s, the older denizens still carry the “lucky bean” in a pocket or purse while school kids paint them green, red and white as a symbol of St. Joseph’s answer of aid during a famine. In many areas where Sicilians settled, you will find altars to St. Joseph for sending rain and the subsequent bumper crop of fava beans.

How to Grow Fava Beans

As mentioned, fava bean plants are a cool weather plant. So the question “how to grow fava beans?” leads us to the answer of “When to sow the beans?” Sow fava beans in September for a late fall harvest or even in November for spring picking. In some areas, the beans may be sowed in January for summer harvest, although if you live in an area of summer heat, be advised that the plants may succumb to these conditions.

Fava bean planting should be sown 1-2 inches deep and spaced about 6-8 inches apart. The addition of legume inoculants is recommended at the time of fava bean planting.

Average irrigation is recommended for growing fava beans, and fava bean plants are hardy to about 21 F. (-6 C.)

Cooking with Fava Beans

Popular among many cuisines, the fava bean may be boiled, baked, sautéed, mashed, fried, braised, stewed and pureed. Simple dishes of boiled beans with salt and butter or more complicated ones like the traditional Egyptian breakfast of ful medames, a dish of favas, lemon juice, onion, garlic, olive oil, and parsley are prepared on a daily basis in many countries.

The young fava bean has not yet formed the endocarp or skin which surrounds the mature shelled bean. As such, the succulent immature fava needs no peeling. Mature beans can either be peeled while raw, which is tedious, or “shock” the beans after briefly steaming in a bowl of iced water. Once the latter is done, the skins will rub off easily.

Fava Beans as Compost or Cover Crop

Once you have harvested the growing fava beans, the remaining foliage may be used as an addition to the compost or makes an excellent cover crop. The bushy greens aid in erosion prevention and protect the topsoil from rain impaction and wind.

Fava beans, like all legume plants, have nitrogen-rich nodules on their roots and contribute to replenishing nitrogen to the soil. Also, the aromatic flower of the growing fava bean plants are powerful pollinator attractors. All in all, growing fava beans is an all around beneficial and valuable crop choice.

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