Plant these unusual and tasty fall root crops for a cool weather harvest!
The summer has flown by, and it’s hard to believe that the start of fall is just a few weeks away! This means…it’s time for planting fall crops! Depending on where you live and what crops you are growing, fall crops should be started mid-July through early September. You will want to work backward from your average first frost date, subtracting the “days to maturity” listed on the seed package to determine when to plant your fall crops. (You may want to plant a little earlier than this just in case you have an early frost.)
Root crops do particularly well in cooler weather, and will become sweeter as the weather cools. In fact, although you can also plant them in early spring, we prefer growing fall root crops, as they tend to germinate better and grow faster.
Fast-growing root veggies work the best, including carrots, turnips, beets, and radishes. We have also had success growing parsnips in the fall, but here in central Ohio, they should be planted in mid-late July.
Many of these vegetables are quite hardy, and you can actually leave them in the ground and harvest as needed, as long as the ground doesn’t freeze.
Below are a few quick-growing root crops that you may still be able to plant now for a late fall harvest. Our favorite is #4 – we LOVE these crisp, juicy, turnip-sized radishes! They are beautifully colored inside so they make a stunning presentation in salads or as pickles, and they also have large, leafy, non-prickly tops that are quite tasty. These absolutely will not grow here in the spring as they take twice as long to mature as your average radish, but they are amazing in the fall, and they store so well in the fridge after harvesting that we have been known to finish the last few in early February!
1.) Purple Daikon
Shorter and plumper than the usual long white varieties, heirloom purple daikons are an excellent choice for adding to kimchi and pickled vegetables. 40 days to maturity.
2.) Oasis Turnips
Similar to the famed Hakurei turnips, this is a small, sweet variety suitable for eating fresh in salads. 50 days to maturity.
3.) Chioggia Beets
Also known as candy cane or candy-striped beets, this heirloom may be cooked, but is often consumed raw or pickled. 60 days to maturity.
4.) Watermelon Radish
The color alone makes this radish worth growing, but it is also known for being on the sweet side. 60 days to maturity.
5.) Cosmic Purple Carrot
There are many purple carrot varieties out there these days, but this newer one, which has yellow-orange flesh, matures faster than most, making it an ideal choice for fall gardening. 70 days to maturity.