Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fall Gardening

Here in South Texas the time to think about fall gardening is mid to late summer.  Since our winters are so mild, we can garden year round in this part of the country.  I love it :) 

Vegetables require a growing period between planting and harvesting.  This period can be shortened almost a month by using transplants rather than seed to establish the crops.  Therefore, the growing period for each crop must be considered in fall vegetable gardening.  Many of the vegetables I like to plant are not available as transplants from my local nurseries so I almost always plant from seed.  Many cool weather crops can (and should) be direct sown in the early fall once the weather has cooled somewhat.  These lists are by no means all inclusive.  They are simply a listing of the most popular fall vegetable crops.

The following cool weather crops require at least two months growing time from seed to the beginning of harvest:
  • beets (direct sow)
  • broccoli (either transplants or direct sow)
  • cauliflower (either transplants or direct sow)
  • collard greens (direct sow)
  • lettuce (direct sow)
  • kohlrabi (direct sow)
  • mustard greens (direct sow)
  • spinach (either transplants or direct sow)
  • Swiss chard (direct sow)
  • turnips (direct sow)
The following crops require at least three months growing time from seed to harvest:
  • brussel sprouts (either transplants or direct sow)
  • cabbage (either transplants or direct sow)
  • carrots (direct sow)
  • onions (direct sow or buy as bulb sets)
If you do the math on these cool weather crops, the seeds for some of these vegetables need to be started around July/August time frame for putting transplants in the ground by September/October.  Since it is still so terribly hot in South Texas at the time of year, I usually start my fall vegetable seeds in little peat pots inside the house (but I now have a greenhouse so I can start my spring vegetables in it..instead of my housband's office!) :-)

Anyway, to start seedlings, I use Burpee Seed Starting Peat Pots and Ferry Morse Organic Seed Started.  Simply fill the peat pot with seed starter mix, water lightly, then let rest a couple of hours so the seed mixture has time to absorb the water.  I usually place 3 to 4 seeds in each pot just to ensure at least one or two seeds germinate.  Mist lightly, set in warm spot and wait for the seeds to germinate. 

Once the seeds germinate, thin to about 3 plants per pot, continue to keep moist (not soaking wet) until you're ready to plant. 

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