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Sow Seeds for Fall Garden

Late
summer is the ideal time to start your fall garden. In most areas of the
country, you can grow a “second season” crop of your favorite
cool-season vegetables and lovely fall flowers. In mild winter areas, you can
grow even more garden favorites for harvest in late fall, winter, even into
next spring. Now is the time to gear up for some of the best growing weather of
the year, which lies in the cool season ahead

What to Grow

Many
casual gardeners don’t bother to plant later in the summer because they think
of a garden as something to be planted in spring. The Home Garden Seed Association (HGSA) is out to change that mindset, along with the idea that growing plants from
seed is difficult. The HGSA has found that “fear of failure” is the
primary reason many home gardeners do not garden with seed, and it wants to
forever dispel that fear. To help gardeners gain confidence with seeds, the
HGSA has assembled a list of the Top 10Fall Varieties that are EZ and fun to
grow from seed:

Beets,
calendula, cilantro, kale, lettuce, peas, radish, salad greens, spinach and
Swiss chard.

Even
where winters are cold, many vegetables can still be grown to maturity before
first frost. In addition to the Top 10 listed above, try broccoli, carrots,
cabbage and arugula. When choosing varieties, select ones that are
fast-maturing to ensure a harvest before the cold weather hits. Consider
extending your planting season even more by growing crops under cold frames and
row covers. Now is also a good time to start seeds of many flowering
perennials. Sown in fall, many will be ready to start flowering by the
following spring or summer.

In
mild winter areas, you can grow an even wider selection of fall and winter
crops, including onions, leeks, and parsley. Seeds of annual flowers that
thrive in cool weather can also be sown now for fall and winter bloom,
including alyssum, candytuft, calendula, lobelia, stock, and sweet pea.

When to Start

The
key to growing vegetables for fall harvest is timing. Vegetables grown in this
season need about 14 extra days to mature compared with spring-seeded crops due
to fall’s shorter days and less intense sunshine. When deciding the date to
start your veggies, first determine your average first frost date. Check with a
good, independent garden center. Then look at the seed packet for days to
maturity. Add 14 days to that number, then use that figure to calculate back to
seed-starting date.

Growing
On

Remember
that sowing seeds or setting out transplants in midsummer can be more stressful
to young plants than seeding during cooler, often wetter spring weather. Be
sure to keep the soil moist as seeds are germinating. Protect young seedlings
with shade cloth or plant them near taller plants, such as corn or tomatoes to
provide shade from the hot afternoon sun. Another option is to start seeds in
containers in a spot with high, bright light and then transplant young
seedlings into the garden. This works well for crops like lettuce and spinach,
whose seeds don’t germinate as well when soil temperatures are high.

Fall
Harvest

With
a little effort in late summer, you’ll have a splendid harvest of vegetables in
fall. Cool weather-loving crops, such as kale, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli,
will thrive in the lower autumn temperatures.

Published on Aug 9, 2011

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!