Temperatures may be dropping soon, but there's still plenty to enjoy in a fall vegetable garden. Whereas fruit plants require particular care and take quite a while to mature (years, in the case of bushes and trees), some vegetables are best grown during the fall because of their affinity for cool weather and quick turnaround. A few dollars and some extra time is all you need to reap a variety of edibles.
All the fall favorites are cheap to purchase and easy to grow. It may take up to three months for some fall vegetables to be ready to harvest, but some seeds are ready in about 30 days. Plant, bulb, and seed packets cost as little as $1 and yield copious crops. Herbs are also popular and tasty additions to a fall garden; basil, for example, thrives during cooler months.
Of course, the ultimate success of a fall garden depends in large part on the local climate. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a convenient Plant Hardiness Zone Map showing average annual minimum temperatures by ZIP code. Knowing your zone can help you determine what grows best when. A Way to Garden provides state-by-state information on last planting dates for fall garden vegetables. In some regions it may be too late to get started, so consider starting some pots indoors late next spring and transplanting when the moment is right.
Related: 11 Garden Vegetable Recipes for Cheap, Fresh Meals