Plants for Fall and Winter Vegetable Gardens

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Advice from UT Extension to Extend the Growing Season and Enjoy Cool Season Crops 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Fall is just around the corner, and that means now is the perfect time to plant cool season leafy crops in your home vegetable garden. University of Tennessee Extension has region-specific recommendations for gardeners who want to continue growing into the fall.

“There are several crops that can survive well into the fall or even through winter in many regions of Tennessee,” says Natalie Bumgarner, UT Extension assistant professor and crops specialist. “Plus, leafy greens can be harvested at immature stages to reduce time from seed to your salad. Leafy crops, like lettuce, mustard, and Swiss chard should be seeded by mid to late September and can all be harvested through the fall. Kale and spinach are some of the most cold-hardy leafy crops, and they can often survive the winter to provide some early spring harvests as well, especially if covered,” continues the plant expert.

Growers can also consider using techniques or tools to extend their growing season. Such methods are divided into two main groups: management practices, and structures or materials that can be used to alter temperatures and extend seasons. “Using transplants in the fall can reduce growing time needed to reach harvestable size for leafy crops. Also, a little time and money invested in row covers or low tunnels that increase temperatures around the plants can enhance growth while providing some protection from low temperatures,” says Bumgarner.

Leafy Crops for the Tennessee Vegetable Garden and The Tennessee Vegetable Garden: Season Extension Methods are two publications produced by UT Extension to help Tennessee growers. UT Extension has also produced a Home Vegetable Garden Calendar for 2019 and one for 2020 is currently in production. 

To access these and other resources, log on to and click Publications. For more home garden resources, contact your local county Extension office. 

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Media Contact

Natalie Bumgarner

Department of Plant Sciences