The leaves are just starting to turn colors, the heat has finally started letting up, and many plants and bugs are starting to die down (especially those pesky weeds pests). The grills are being fired up even more now that there’s a slight, comfortable chill in the air, and people are starting to come out of their air conditioned homes in the cooler evenings to enjoy the weather.

In some growing zones, September is too late to start any kind of planting other than what winters over. But, in zones 5 and up, now is the perfect time to start those cool-weather plants that grow quickly.

Read on for a list of the best vegetables to get growing in a fall garden and a few tips and tricks to help get the most out of your plants.

Which Plants Are Good for Fall Gardening?

Leafy greens are perfect for a fall garden. They are already quick-growing plants, but they grow even better in the cooler weather that comes with the autumn season. All of these listed can be directly sown in the soil. One really good thing about them is they grow well in containers so you can bring them in if it does get too cold. You can also cut the outer leaves on the plants and they will grow more to replace them. This is advisable for the warmer days to prevent bolting.

Baby spinach takes as little as 4-6 weeks to be ready. Mature leaves are usually ready between 6-8 weeks. Loose leaf lettuce leaves are usually ready to cut in 30 days or so. Baby kale and mustard greens can be harvested in around 25 days, and the more mature leaves are usually ready in 50-65 days.

Swiss chard is harvestable as early as 30-35 days with baby leaves being ready sooner. They can handle frost much better than other leafy greens, and some varieties can even winter over and grow back for several years, especially when there is no hard freeze.

Yellow squash and zucchini usually have edibles in as little as 50 days, especially if they receive plenty of water and sun. They might not get as big as when planted in the spring, but they have more flavor when eaten small. These little beauties cannot handle frost though, so if you want to keep them growing, you might want to use row covers on colder nights.

Broccoli takes about 45-60 days to mature, depending on the variety, and are perfect for the cooler weather. They can actually handle some frost and keep going. It is better to have started seeds a couple of weeks prior to summer ending, but that shouldn’t stop you from planting now. They will still grow, but they may not be as large as summer pickings.

Spring radishes are ready in 20-25 days. They are one of the fastest growing vegetable there is. Directly sow their seeds into the ground. In two and a half weeks, start pushing on the soil and see if there is a bulb.

Carrots are great cold weather vegetables. Baby carrot varieties can be harvested after about 30-35 days while other varieties take up to 50 or more. Fall carrots tend to be sweeter, possibly due to the already warm soil versus in the spring when the soil is cold. They can grow throughout the winter, just mulch to protect them from frost.

More Tips and Tricks

Most of these plants do not handle droughts well. If your area is experiencing a dry season, make sure to keep the plants watered. A soaker hose or sprinkler is fine, but you can also just water them manually if needed. It is always best to water in the mornings or early afternoons.

Check with your local forecast and other sources such as the Almanac to learn what your first expected frost date is. Make sure to plant far enough ahead of that date that your plants will be ready for harvest beforehand. In many cases, if they are not ready, you can cover them overnight to protect them from frost.

Mulch your plants. Good mulch can help protect plants from freezing a little longer. Be wary though, as not all of the bugs have gone away. Slugs and other pests may use the mulch to hide under during the day. Set out beer traps or iron phosphate baits to protect your plants.

There are many other plants that can be planted in a fall garden; it all depends on your growing zones and the dates of first frosts. The later your first frost, the more options you have available. These two websites can help you check your frost dates: USDA Plant Hardiness Zones and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Both sites have some great information on seasonal growing, when to grow, how to grow, where to grow.