Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing Newsday.com's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

Imagine pulling on a soft, warm sweater, lighting a fire and setting the table with your best brown-and-orange tablecloth. The aroma of turkey roasting in the oven wafts through the house, and you can hear the football play-by-play in the background.

Only one thing is missing: fresh Brussels sprouts. Why? Because you’re not thinking about all these things today while sunbathing with that piña colada in your hand.

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If you want a tasty fall, you need to start planting now. Leafy greens and root crops grow best in cool weather, and the flavor of cole crops — Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, kale and kohlrabi, actually benefits from a nip of frost.

  • Lettuces wither and wilt under the scorching summer sun, but start them again now and you’ll be enjoying garden-fresh salads well into October. Arugula, mustard greens, radishes and spinach planted now will be ready to harvest by mid-September.
  • Chinese greens germinate and grow more quickly than other greens, which makes them front-runners in the race from patch to plate before the ground freezes. Scallions and parsley can survive most of the winter outdoors. Beets, Swiss chard, parsnips and peas, too, are top contenders for your fall garden.
  • Plants that can withstand a hard frost (below 28 degrees) include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, onions, parsley, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips, leeks and sorrel.
  • Plants that can withstand a light frost (28-32 degrees) include artichokes, beets, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, endive, lettuce, parsnips, Swiss chard, escarole, arugula, bok choy, mâche and radicchio.

You can further extend the growing season of root crops by mulching heavily when hard frost threatens. If you cross your fingers, that might even get you through the entire winter.