Fall is just around the corner and so it's time to think about fall veggies. If your summer veggies are still going strong and you're enjoying it, then rock on. Maybe you have a few empty spots in the garden that you would like to fill with ABC (Arugula, Beets, and Collards, obviously...ok, yes, I just made that up). On the other hand, maybe you can't stand to eat another zucchini for the foreseeable future and you're ready for a change of pace with fall salads, soups, and braising greens.
The fall growing season enables my obsession with purple vegetables. I could claim it to be an aesthetic preference, but it's really more of a child-like enchantment that bubbles up as a squeal of "oooh, pretty." The color purple in many plants, including red cabbage, is associated with pigments called anthocyanins. Fascinatingly, the hue is affected by pH, turning more red in the presence of acids and more blue in the presence of bases.
Generally speaking, fall vegetable gardening is all about leafy greens and root vegetables. The purple veggies I'm planning to grow this fall include purple sprouting broccoli, 'Rubine' Brussels sprouts, red kale, red mustard, a mix of red lettuces, beets, purple top turnips, and watermelon radishes. For an excellent list of fall vegetables and suggested times for when to plant them, check out Southern Exposure Seed Exchange's (SESE) fall planting calendar. SESE has done the math for you to determine planting times, counting backwards from the average first fall frost date by the expected days to maturity for a variety of fall crops. DC and Central Virginia (where SESE is located) are both in the USDA plant hardiness zone 7a, and while DC is slightly warmer due to the effects of the Chesapeake Bay and urbanization, it's close enough.
I started these purple sprouting broccoli and 'Rubine' Brussels sprouts seedlings under grow light a few weeks ago and will plant them in my garden at the beginning of September. The rest of the veggies will be directly sown into the garden around that time too.