Experienced gardeners are aware that getting the timing right for growing vegetables is probably the most difficult part of maintaining a vegetable garden. Vegetables can be grown in autumn and winter, depending on the climate of the region where the growing will take place. Vegetables maybe broken down into three classifications: late maturing crops that take approximately 90 days to mature and include root crops (carrots, onions, beets, parsnips) and leaf crops (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower); midseason crops that take approximately 60 days to mature and include root crops (turnips, leek, kohlrabi) and leaf crops (collard greens, Swiss chard, perennial herbs); early maturing crops that take approximately 30 days to mature and include root crops (radishes, chives) and leaf crops (broccoli, spinach, lettuce). The USDA planting zone chart gives information on the zones and the average, annual, minimum temperatures for each zone.
Carrots are an autumn vegetable and need to be planted 2 inches apart as they don't grow very big. Carrots take approximately 90 days to mature from the time of planting the seeds. They are suitable for cold climates but are fussy plants that require light, well-drained, fertile soil with plenty of organic matter mixed in. A rich sandy, peaty soil will provide the best conditions for the carrot roots to become well established. The soil pH value should be 6.5 to 7.5 for sweet carrots because potassium promotes their growth.
Brussels sprouts can be planted in autumn for a midwinter harvest. The plants require full sunlight and a well-drained, fertile, firm soil, rich in organic matter. The soil needs to have a pH content of 6.0 to 7.5. It also requires consistent and abundant moisture. Mulching is necessary to protect the roots, conserve moisture and reduce the weed population. Plants need to be spaced out 20 inches apart. These are hardy plants that take approximately 90 days to mature.
Broccoli is considered a hardy vegetable that can survive the cold; this makes it a good autumn vegetable. If grown from seed, it needs to be planted in midsummer for it to be ready for replanting in approximately six weeks. Seedlings can be planted in early autumn and the crop will be ready before the heat of summer arrives. Broccoli plants grow a central flower head and shoots that can be harvested as is continues growing. Broccoli plants are large and need to be set 18 inches apart. Maturity will take up to 80 days.
The cauliflower plant is rather finicky and will not develop well in hot or dry weather; it should be planted in autumn. The plants require full sunlight with well-drained soil. The soil should be fertile, high in organic matter and have a pH content of 6.0 to 7.5; it requires consistent moisture. Cauliflower can be grown from seed or small plants, but the seeds give more varieties. Germinating the seeds can be started indoors on a seed tray and replanted outdoors.