Tips for Growing Cold Weather Crops

By Gwenn Thompson Stead, Class of 1974

Our community farming began as a sensible way to stretch our food budget and provide healthy food for our young daughters.  My husband Marshall led our farming adventure and assigned me his garden apprentice. 


Fast-forward 30 years, through seasonal trials and  errors, we’ve learned important lessons from our plantings.  Which brings me to my gardening tips for our brand new fall season. 


An often misunderstood planting season is the fall crop-producing season.  Is there crop life after summer?


I say a resounding YES!


Saying goodbye to summer doesn’t mean, you have to say goodbye to growing delicious fruits and vegetables.


The end of September is not too late to plant cold-weather crops!  Yay!  There are several hardy vegetables that can thrive from early to late fall.  Some of our favorites are collard greens, beets, carrots, Italian kale and cabbage.


Let’s take collards.  We plant them in early September for a late fall harvest.  We’ve learned that the flavor of the collards are enhanced when we harvest them after the first frost. 


When planting for the late fall harvest, the ground is already soft and we sometimes enrich the soil, by adding bone meal, blood meal and fresh cow manure.  You can buy it at Home Depot.


But, if you want it fresh, you can go to a nearby farm and get it.  You dig it out yourself and there’s a cost. We found a farm in Montgomery County through word of mouth from other farmers working neighboring plots at our Flourtown farm.  Another way is through a simple Google Search.


Now, all that’s left after planting is, to water them and wait expectantly for the blessing of the full sun!