Kale: Some varieties of kale can be productive right into the winter. While an extended period of freezing temperatures will make them die back, many gardeners find they can get useful produce for their kale plants until the snow begins to fly. Try to maintain healthy and vigorous plants in the regular growing season to give them the best chance at surviving when temperatures fall.
Brussels Sprouts: Seen by some as 'mini cabbages', Brussels Sprouts are often hardy in the garden and can withstand low temperatures without much difficulty. Their large leaves will often protect the sprouts from freezing or frost damage, and even short term freezing temperatures are usually not a problem for these plants. As with kale, if you have extensive insect damage to the plants going into the colder weather, you may see a decrease in the plants' ability to remain productive.
Carrots: Several varieties of carrots are created specifically for performing well in colder weather, and with some additional planning and thick mulching they can often be harvested throughout a large part of the winter. The longer the carrots are allowed to grow in the colder weather only intensifies their natural sweetness. Winter harvested carrots are so good they are almost like carrot candy!
Garlic: Since one head of garlic is made up of several individual cloves, gardeners who want this tasty treat can create many new plants from just a few heads. What many people don't realize is that for the best production many kinds of garlic must be planted in the late fall for harvest the following summer. Garlic often needs the cold temperatures of the winter season to produce its best crop. When planting fall garlic, make sure to buy garlic heads that are not treated in any way (as some in grocery stores are) and have individual cloves that are healthy and firm for planting. The best cloves planted in the fall will give the best results next year!
These are just a few of the more cold-tolerant vegetables that are available to gardeners. Other veggies including cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, and others, can each tolerate some amount of cold (though many, like lettuce, cannot produce through full freezing temperatures). Be sure to get the most out of your garden by experimenting with these late fall favorites for an extended growing season!
For more on growing cold weather crops, click here to visit Mother of a Hubbard's 10 Vegetables More Cold Hardy than Kale for ideas. Thinking about next year's garden already? NRT's Community Gardens applications will be available in late winter 2016 for next year's growing season.