Fall is often overlooked as a gardening season since there’s more “buzz” around spring planting. But here’s some great news: you can grow a beautiful and bountiful garden starting in September, and enjoy your harvest until Thanksgiving or longer. Whether you’re a fall garden newbie or veteran, here are three crops that are sure to yield a successful experience. Bonus: The edible part of these three plants represent three different plant parts (Sometimes the curriculum connections appear like magic)!
Kale is a must for a fall school garden. It is easy to grow, has a long harvest period (into the winter), and is incredibly nutrient dense (it’s good for your body!). To get to harvest size quickly, we suggest buying transplants from your local garden center. Harvest the most mature (lower leaves) and allow the center leaves to continue to grow for later harvest. Don’t let kids turn their nose up at kale without trying it at least three ways. Our favorites are: Kale Chips (kale gets crispy when cooked!), Massaged Kale Salad, or Smoothies.
Edible Plant Part: Leaf
Find the Kale Crop Guide here.
Radishes are possibly the fastest crop to grow in the school garden from seed to harvest–only 30-35 days. This is a great crop to plant using paper towel seeding (Watch a how-to video and explore math connections in all grades). In addition to being easy to grow with few pest problems, there are some non-traditional colorful varieties that will entice even the most reluctant taster. Look for “Easter Egg” and “Watermelon” varieties as possibilities for your fall garden.
Edible Plant Part: Root
Find the Radish Crop Guide here
Kohlrabi is a kid favorite in the fall garden because of its “weird” appearance. It comes in a few different colors, purple, white and green and has the appearance of a tennis ball sitting on top of the ground with “appendages” stretching upward. You’ll harvest one tennis ball (swollen stem) from each plant. Kohlrabi has a nice crunch and the taste is quite mild.
Edible Plant Part: Stem
Find the Kohlrabi Crop Guide here.
While there are many other vegetables that thrive in the fall garden (cabbage, lettuce, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, turnips, spinach and Swiss chard), our goal is for teachers, students and the garden to thrive. Keep it simple and watch them grow!