Best Roots for Fall

by Erin Enouen

The best time to plant the majority of fall root crop varieties is from the summer solstice through mid-August. Some varieties are particularly well suited to maturing for in the fall. Here's our guide for the best varieties to plan and plant for after the summer solstice.

CARROTS

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You haven't really tasted a carrot until you taste carrot that has been hit by the first fall frost. The starches convert to sugars and transform them into healthy, crunchy candy sticks.

Best varieties: All carrot varieties do well for fall harvests. For color, sow Kaleidoscope Carrots. For storage Danvers and Red-Cored Chantanay are the real winners.

When to plant: For full size, fat carrots, sow 10-12 weeks before your first fall frost. For baby carrots, the window is 8-10 weeks.

Sow after: You harvest and clear spring peas or garlic for a fall crop of carrots.

BEETS

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Beets are the perfect fall root: sweet colorful, nutritious and versatile. In early fall, before you've put them into storage, beets are a two-for: Leafy tops can be used like chard, and the roots can be stored or prepared.

Best varieties: The deep red leaves and stems make Bulls Blood great for late summer thinnings, plus it sizes up nicely for the fall; Crosby Egyptian, and Detroit Dark Red are the best storage varieties.

When to plant: Sow at least 10 weeks before your first fall frost for the biggest roots.

Sow after: You harvest and clear your onions or garlic for a fall crop.

TURNIPS

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Like all hardy crops, turnips sweeten with the frost. Though they might not have as big a following as, say, the carrot, turnips are very nutritious and are a great, palatable compliment to many other fall crops in roasts and mashes. If you love flavorful greens as much as I do, you with also prize your turnip greens.

Best varieties: The bright Scarlet Ohno is nice for early fall. Purple Top is hands down the best storage variety.

When to plant: Sow at least 8-10 weeks before your first fall frost for the biggest roots.

Sow after: You harvest and clear your onions or garlic for a fall crop.

RADISHES

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While it is certainly possible to grow a nice fall crop of spring radishes, the radishes of the fall and winter sort are a whole other category! Storage radishes are substantial and crisp. They can be eaten raw, pickled, or roasted. Even better, they are still very quick and can be seeded at the end of summer.

Best varieties: Watermelon, Minawase Daikon, and China Rose Winter are the best fall and winter varieties.

When to plant: Sow 6-8 weeks before your first fall frost for the biggest roots.

Sow after: Since these can be seeded at the end of August, they can go in after a number of harvested crops, but also work well after onions and summer lettuce crops.

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