The days feel like they're getting shorter by the minute (which, technically, they are), and the garden seems to be backsliding into laziness; with the exception of some squash, most of the beds are empty and crops are living out the last of their days. Does that really mean you have to spend the next four to six months buying produce from the store? Nuh-uh. There are tons of things you can grow in the fall and winter to keep up a source of fresh, homegrown goodies.
Okay, I get it, kale is so trendy as to have reached social saturation point. But...give kale another shot, okay? For one thing, there are lots of different kale cultivars you might want to experiment with in your garden. It's also rich in vitamins and minerals, and it's a very robust winter crop, thriving in a variety of conditions. And guess what? Redbor kale, kamome red kale, and some others walk the tightrope between edible and ornamental; so you can get color in your garden and have a snack food!
Lettuce can be grown at almost any time of the year, including winter. You'll need a cold frame, greenhouse, or warm area of the house with some sunlight if you live in a snowy area, but otherwise, have at it with cold-hardy varietals that like the winter months. When limited fresh produce is available, being able to pick your own crisp, crunchy lettuce is a wonderful thing.
If you're not growing your own herbs yet, you should be. They'll grow indoors, in windowboxes, on porches, and of course in the garden itself. Best of all, they're cold-hardy and produce year-round. Plant some thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, oregano, and other herbs to get them established and producing fresh seasonings for you! Things like chives and parsley can be grown through the spring and summer, and you can always cut and dry them for winter use.
Spinach and Orach
These related greens taste great and love winter weather. Orach is a rich maroon color, so it will provide a colorful splash in your winter garden (along with that red kale you planted). In fact, you might look the look so much that you'll hire a Minneapolis handyman to build you some planters so you can grow it as an ornamental and an edible. Like lettuces, they can be harvested a few leaves at a time to keep the plant producing for weeks.