Keep the harvest going with cool weather greens. Kale, spinach, chard, lettuces, collards, and argula can be planted now, ready for fall harvest by late October to early November. Think salads, soups, and stir-fry.  Click on each picture for harvesting instructions.

Start cabbages from transplants and harvest when firm and desired size. Use a sharp knife and cut cabbage head at its base.

Seeds or Transplants?

Seeds are cheaper and make for easy succession planting, but transplants save effort. Some seeds are past planting dates, making transplants the only choice. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli fall into this category. Check this pdf for planting and harvesting dates.  

Swiss chard, with its bright stems, adds color to fall containers and gardens. The leaves can be harvested for salads when young, and the stalks are edible, too. Try them in stir-fry. Cut from the outside of the plant with a sharp knife about 1-2″ from soil. New growth begins in center of plant. Refrain from cutting the growing point.

Growing Tips

  1. Pick cold hardy and disease resistant varieties. (Staff can help you at the garden center.)

  2. Greens, like most vegetables need full sun, a minimum of 6 full hours a day. Spinach, kale and Swiss chard can handle partial shade (not filtered light, but afternoon shade is good).

  3. Greens will grow until a hard frost.  For WNC the average first frost is October 23.

  4. Greens benefit from a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Add it before planting.

  5. Greens need good drainage and an inch of water a week.

  6. Mulch between rows to help with weeds.

  7. Use I MUST GARDEN Rabbit Repellent to keep bunnies from munching.

  8. Do add them to window boxes, raised planting beds, containers, perennial borders, anywhere that makes harvesting easier and closer to the kitchen.

  9. Pick leaves from the outside since new growth starts from the center. Pick younger leaves for a less bitter taste.

  10. Cooler weather makes sweeter flavor. 

Leaf lettuces come in a variety of taste–mild, sweet, savory–and colors, shapes and textures. Plant them in the garden, in fall containers, or perennial borders, for eating, but also to spice up borders and containers. It doesn’t always have to be pansies. Use sharp scissors to remove outside leaves for harvesting. Harvest frequently to keep plant producing.

Greens are listed as one of the 15 best foods to eat when you’re sick. They’re loaded with vitamin a, c, and k. Here’s a list of the top 15. Most greens are nutritional powerhouse foods and even if they aren’t the mother of all super-foods (for the skeptics among us), they’re tasty in everything from salad to smoothies. And, nothing beats growing your own food and extending the garden season.

Kale is harvested when the leaves are about the size of your hand. Use sharp scissors to trim, cutting from the outside of the plant. Pick a fistful of leaves each harvest. Kale can handle temperatures in the 20s, so this is one you can harvest for awhile.

Harvest collards when the leaves are 10″ long, dark green and young. Again use sharp scissors to trim. As you trim the plant will start to look like a small tree, but new leaves will continue to emerge from the center of the plant.

The garden center has fall vegetables (and mums, yay!) now. Staff can help you decide which crop(s) is best for you. Remember, you don’t need a large space. As noted, window boxes, containers, spent perennial borders, all make a perfect spot for planting greens.

Included below is a recipe for Brussels sprouts. For those finding it hard to dive into the cruciferous vegetables, this recipe for you. It eases you into the world of greens by adding green apples and thyme to sauteed sprouts and if you just can’t do bacon, you can substitute butter, or your favorite plant based substitute. You’ll love it. Enjoy!


Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach and blog writer.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina and Tennessee.