Plant a Fall Salad Garden

As the weather turns cooler, plant leafy greens like lettuce, kale and spinach to keep harvesting salads during the fall months.

Leaf Lettuce

As the temperature begins to cool and leaves begin to turn color, you may think that it is time to put those gardening gloves away – but STOP!

Fall is a great time to plant lettuce and other salad greens, which love cool temperatures and can even survive a light frost.  So, put those gardening gloves back on and let’s get started planting. Fall is also a great time to plant perennials.

A salad garden is filled with plants that are suitable for a salad, including leafy greens along with some root vegetables. First, let’s get started with leaf lettuce.  There are countless types of leaf lettuce and all would do great in a fall salad garden.


Kale and Spinach

It is hard to find a vegetable that loves cold temperatures more than kale.  In fact, they taste even better after a frost and can last through winter in many gardening zones. The young leaves of kale taste delicious when added to salad. Check out more cold-season veggies you should plant this fall.


Spinach is another leafy green that handles the cool weather of fall quite well.  In some warmer climates, they overwinter to produce again in spring.

radish seedlings

Radishes and Salad Greens

Because radishes are fast-growing, they make the perfect addition to a salad garden.  When thinning your radishes, use those that you pulled out to put in your salad, where they will add a delicious flavor.

Other vegetables that can be planted in your salad garden are bok choy, mustard greens, endive and turnip greens.

More Salad Garden Tips

Planting a salad garden is easy.  Choose a place that receives at least 6 hours of sun.  Salad greens do best in well-drained, fertile soil.  Lightly sprinkle seeds, following seed package instructions as how deep to plant them.  For gardeners in colder climates, you want to plant seeds in late summer.  Of course, you can use transplants this time of year, about 2 – 6 weeks before the first frost.  You can even plant a salad garden in a container.

How long your salad garden will last depends on how cold your winters are.  To prolong the harvest, cover your garden with an old sheet, towel or frost cloth when temperatures first begin to dip below freezing.  In warmer climates, the plants in your salad garden may survive the winter and start growing again in spring.  In zones 8 and above, salad gardens can go on producing all winter long.

Just because the trees are beginning to turn color doesn’t mean that you have to stop gardening . Go ahead and start your own salad garden and enjoy a delicious harvest as the weather begins to cool.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.