California is the mecca of year-round gardening. Much of the state has a moderate, Mediterranean climate with relatively wet winters. As the summer is nearing the end, your Southern California fall garden options may be more diverse than you think! Actually September, October, and November are the ideal time to plant cool-season crops like roots, greens, brassicas, and garlic!
Here are the top keto-friendly vegetables for your fall garden!
What Veggies Can You Plant in Autumn?
Plant cold-resistant vegetables and herbs in the fall to harvest for the holiday table.
Fall-planted veggies are perfect for holiday harvests, cold storage, or overwintering. If you have season extension devices like cold frames, hoop houses, mulches, or frost protection fabric, you may have even more options for autumn vegetable gardening. Depending on your growing zone, you can plant:
Zones 4 and 5 Cold hardy brassicas and storage roots will be ready for frost-sweetened harvests before heavy snowfalls hit. You also have a moderate window of time for quick-growing baby spinach, lettuce, and other cool-weather greens.
In Southern California, we are in Planting Zone "9b"
With an average yearly temperature of 65.9°F, our region has a January-December (whole year) growing season and is located in a warm temperate dry forest.
Low Temp: 30°F
Sunny Days: 280
There are also several herbs like parsley, cilantro, and peppery cress that love the autumn chill. And you can’t forget garlic! Aside from hot subtropical climates, You can enjoy an abundant harvest of spicy bulbs the following summer.
We Recommend These Keto-Friendly Vegetables for Your Fall Garden
Your backyard garden doesn’t have to die down once the temperatures cool down. There’s plenty of keto friendly veggies you can plant during the cooler fall months. Put on some boots and get these veggies in the ground before it’s too late!
Garlic loves the cold. With its spicy aroma and rugged resilience, garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow. In SoCal, garlic is traditionally planted in late October, until November/December to harvest in the summer.
Southern growers usually opt for soft-neck varieties that don’t need the cold treatment of vernalization. You can also pre-chill the seed garlic in the refrigerator before planting.
Remember, you should not peel seed garlic! You want to keep as many layers of “papers” as possible to help the clove grow into a full-size garlic bulb.
Check out this guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Garlic!
Turnips are round, hardy roots which are planted in autumn and mature in 50 to 60 days.
Important Notice: Do not consume the green leaves as they are loaded with oxalates.
For storage, you can dig up the plants, remove the greens, and store the roots in a cooler at 32-40° for 4-6 months.
Add them to stews, roasts, and soups.
Onions and Scallions
Onions are quite hardy and tolerate the cold very well. They can withstand temperatures down to about 20°F.
Whether you prefer green onions or full-sized bulbs, they are best planted in September. Start with seeds, transplants, or “onion sets” for a quicker reward. Seed them about 1” apart in rows that are 6” apart.
Once they’re 6-12” tall, use a knife to individually harvest green onions (scallions) for your autumn meals. This process will increase the spacing to 3-4” apart to allow the remaining plants to grow into full-size onions.
Radishes can tolerate down to 20-30°F, but prefer a mild 40-60°F temperature range. They aren’t particularly frost-hardy but they do grow fast (4-6 weeks) which makes them perfect for sneaking into the empty spaces of your fall garden. These red roots also come in purple, white, pink, yellow, and even black (hello spicy Spanish radishes)!
They also make great additions to fall fermentations like kimchi and sauerkraut. You can pull as needed (just don’t let them get too oversized!)
You may choose daikon and “watermelon” radish types for the best fall root harvests. Check out this guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Radishes!
Kale is a typical cold-resistant and continuous yields autumn vegetable, the leaves of which become sweeter from the cold. The accumulation of sugars occurs because starch molecules inside the plant are converted to natural sugars in chilly weather.
In SoCal, kale is typically planted late September/October.
Harvest your kale regularly! Pull the oldest leaves and always leave the center growing tip intact.
Cauliflower is an indispensable vegetable in autumn dishes. Fall soups and roasts just aren’t the same without cauliflower.
You can direct seed cauliflower as late as October in our region. It prefers to grow at 50-60°F and takes up to 10 weeks for it to mature.
Cauliflower is notoriously susceptible to aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. To exclude these pests, it helps to cover the seedlings with row fabric. Companion plant with sweet alyssum, dill, marigold, and/or yarrow to help attract beneficial insects.
Check out this guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Cauliflower!
You can direct seed broccoli as late as October in our region. It prefers to grow at 50-60°F. The seeds require 85 to 100 days to mature into full heads. You can even extend the harvest after you cut the initial head by harvesting side shoots throughout late autumn.
You may consider growing sprouting broccoli or “broccolini”. Varieties such as ‘Happy Rich’, ‘Melody’, and ‘Sweet Stem’ produce an abundance of long tender-stemmed florets that have an extra sweet flavor and miniature size for easy preparation. They keep putting out shoots up until the first fall freeze and they taste absolutely delicious on the grill.
Like broccoli and cauliflower, cabbage is a cool-weather brassica that thrives in autumn weather. Unlike the bland green cabbage at the grocery store, you may choose from over 400 unique varieties and colors from around the world.
You can plant cabbage seedlings as late as October in our region. Cabbages can be cut in held in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. Particularly, Napa and Chinese cabbages are best for fermenting and preserving.
Check out this guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Cabbage!
Lettuce prefers to grow in cool weather. Anyone who has tried to grow salad greens in the summer heat has experienced how quickly lettuce can turn bitter and go to seed. That’s because lettuce is naturally a cool-weather crop that loves the spring and fall seasons. This allows the lettuce to develop in the milder weather it prefers to maintain a frilly, tender texture.
September and October are the ideal times to start getting fall lettuce off to a great start. Lettuce seeds can germinate in soils as cold as 40°F. Keep consistently moist and enjoy chill-sweetened salads within 2-3 weeks.
You can “cut and come again” as long as you leave the center growing tip intact. Gather an array of different textures and colors of lettuces (for example, red butter, green incised, and wavy romaine), mix the seeds together, and directly sow in the garden at a rate of 4-6 seeds per inch in rows about 2” apart. Tamper lightly and cover with ⅛” of soil.
Fall is prime parsley-planting time because it yields in much greater abundance than spring parsley.
Parsley takes up to 3 weeks to germinate and 75 days to mature. It prefers partial shade to full sun.
Parsley comes in flat-leaf and curly varieties, the latter being the most cold-hardy but the prior is more flavorful for culinary use.
This herb prefers to grow in cold weather as it tends to fade in hot weather.
While most of us crave cilantro in summer tomato salsas, this herb naturally prefers chilly weather. Cilantro tends to grow vigorously in the fall. You can dry or freeze an abundance of this herb.
Cilantro is very beginner-friendly because it doesn’t mind excess moisture or overcrowding. Nonetheless, the best cilantro crops are grown in fertile, compost-rich soil with a continuous supply of moisture throughout the fall season.
Check out this guide on How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Cilantro!
This lesser-known fall green has a mild peppery, mild flavor and has an abundance of nutrition.
This fall green is extraordinarily easy to grow. You can seed in a 2-4” wide band for baby greens or thin to 4” apart for larger florets. Begin harvesting when they reach 2” tall.
You may choose between watercress or upland cress. Both require a lot of moisture, but watercress is particularly finicky about water. As our region doesn't get much fall rain or humidity, opt for an upland cress.
Originating in Scandinavia, rutabagas are a plump root relative of cabbage and turnips. They have a distinctive buttery and bitter-savory flavor with a cooked texture reminiscent of potatoes.
Rutabagas are also called “Swedes” in Great Britain and are far more popular across the pond than they are here in the USA. However, their impressive nutrient profile and easygoing growth habit make them the perfect autumn garden addition for growers in our region in SoCal.
You can plant them in late winter.
The buttery delicious, infamously slow-growing onion cousin "leek" is an excellent vegetable to grow in your fall garden. Baby leeks grow into thick stalks that remain very frost-hardy even through freeze-thaw cycles.
A key secret to growing incredible leeks is to keep them “hilled up”. Every few weeks, mound more soil onto the base of the plants. This blanches the bottoms and makes them sweeter in the kitchen.
Leeks take up to 110 days to mature. Inconsistent moisture can further delay the process. For impatient gardeners, choose quicker-maturing varieties like ‘King Richard’ or ‘Lincoln’.
Brussels sprouts are able to withstand extreme climatic conditions and produce a good harvest.
While admittedly challenging even for experienced gardeners, Brussel Sprouts are worth including in a fall garden because they can yield in such abundance and tolerate extreme conditions.
Brussels sprouts can be planted in an area with plenty of space and direct sunlight.
Prepare seedlings indoors now or direct seed into the garden in early October. Each plant prefers at least 18-24” of space and plenty of fertilizer to fuel their growth.
At 90 days to mature, brussels sprouts do require a bit of patience and care, but each plant can produce an impressive amount of sprouts for holiday meals.
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