Vegetables are typically divided into two types: cold tolerant vegetables and warm tolerant vegetables. Warm tolerant vegetables such as corn, tomatoes and beans grow in the summer, while cold tolerant vegetables grow in the spring and fall. Typically, cold tolerant vegetables are low-growing, leafy vegetables and root crops.
Kale is a distant cousin to cabbage. Because of its purple, green and white leaves, it is often grown in flower gardens alongside pansies as a colorful winter ornamental. Prior to the 1600s, it was the most common green vegetable available in Europe. It can be eaten cooked or raw, and is popular in meat dishes and soups. Sow kale seedlings ¼ to ½ inch deep, 1 inch apart in rows. Thin seedlings to 18 to 30 inches apart.
The part of the carrot that we eat is actually the taproot of the carrot plant. In mild climates, carrots can be grown all winter long, but in climates with cold, bitter winters, carrot plants should be sown in the ground as soon as the ground can be worked. The plant was eaten in Africa and Asia as early as the 13th century, but was unknown in Europe prior to the Middle Ages. The orange color that we associate with carrots is a hybrid. The root crop originally grew in black, yellow, red, purple and white colors. Sow carrot seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep. Keep the seeds evenly moist for the 2 to 3 weeks that they take to germinate. Thin the plants to 1 inch apart.
Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages, which is no surprise, because the two are distantly related members of the Brassica family. Unlike cabbages, Brussels sprouts are not good to eat raw. Instead, they can be boiled, stir fried or steamed. Although Brussels sprouts can grow year round, they grow best in the autumn and spring. The vegetable is actually a bud and grows in clusters of 20 to 40 in between the leaf and stem of a plant that will reach 2-3 feet in height. Sow seeds at ¼ to ½ inch deep and thin sprouts so that they are 15 to 18 inches apart.