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14 Can't-Miss Cool-Season Edibles

Discover tasty crops that grow best in chilly weather.

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Photo: iStock/billnoll

Turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapifera)

Cool temperatures are the secret to mild flavor in turnips. Plant this chubby veggie in early spring or late summer. Harvest young roots (2 inches across) for fresh eating in salads. Pick larger roots for storing (3- to 4-inch size). Don’t be quick to toss green tops of turnips on the compost pile. These leafy greens bring big nutrition to the dinner table. Eat them raw or cook them like greens. Let plants experience light frost for the sweetest roots.

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Photo: Johnny's Selected Seeds

Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla)

Count on chard to inject color into your early-season landscape. The brightly-hued stems and deep green leaves blend effortlessly into flower, herb and vegetable gardens. The entire plant is edible: stems and leaves. Use it fresh, or chop and freeze. Use chard to stand in for spinach, although it needs a little more cooking time. Leaves are frost-tolerant. As summer heats up, chard doesn’t bolt, making it a great green for warm weather as well.

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Photo: iStock/barmalini

Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes)

Tuck kohlrabi into the early spring or fall garden to enjoy its quirky appearance. Also known as cabbage-turnip, kohlrabi brings a mild turnip flavor to the kitchen. Enjoy it raw with dip, chopped into salads or shredded for coleslaw. For best flavor, harvest bulbs while they’re small — less than 1 inch across. To harvest, pull bulbs from soil and trim away leaves and roots. Pick a few young leaves to toss into salads.

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Photo: Image courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Radish (Raphanus sativus)

Meet one of the veggie garden’s fastest crops. Radishes are ready to harvest 22 to 30 days from sowing. They don’t need much room and thrive in small gardens or containers. The cylindrical French types mature faster than the round traditional roots. Harvest radish greens to add a peppery zip to sandwiches or salads. Radishes grow best in well-drained soil that’s had some compost added. Keep plants moist during the growing cycle.

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