While you are directly in the midst of 30 plus degree days, watering like a madwoman, harvesting and getting ready to start canning... turns out it is time to think about fall gardening. Yep, right now. In fact, is already too late to start some things! Eek!
Little pockets of space open up here and there, in the garden. Maybe from the bolting lettuce and flowering radishes, or perhaps you just harvested the last of your spring sown broccoli. These little pockets of space are just perfect for tossing in a bit of fall and winter veggie seeds.
This is when we sow our winter gardens... Not in late summer, as one might think, but right now, at pretty much the hottest, driest time of the year. As you can imagine, keeping the seeds moist till germination occurs can be a bit challenging.
Seeds need to be watered daily, maybe even twice a day, in order for germination to occur, to keep them from simply drying out and dying.
Burlap sacks or sheeting will help hold in the moisture, shading the surface soil from the hot sun till germination occurs.
Soaker hoses will not help you at seeding time as they are meant to slowly soak the water deep down into the bed, promoting great, healthy, deep, root systems, while the top of the soil stays nearly completely dry. For seeds, you need the exact opposite … the surface has to stay wet till you see sprouts, deep watering is not needed until after germination when the roots begin to go after that water source.
Many like to pre-start fall and winter crops, like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, etc... in starter pots, and then transfer them into the garden in 4 to 6 weeks time. Me, I'm more of a toss it in the garden type of gal, preferring to toss seeds straight into the beds, covering them with a burlap sack for a few days, and watering daily till they sprout.
What to sow now?
For fall you want to sow hardy veggies with a short growing season as they will take longer to mature now than they would in spring. Our days get shorter daily after solstice, so this adds a bit of time to the maturity time ( average of 10 to 15 days). Look for seeds with 50 to 60 days till harvest. It is already too late to start anything with a longer harvest date, like carrots, parsnips, broccoli. You will find all this information on the back of the seed package.
- Broccoli raab, broccolini types
- Cabbage for fall harvest (pick a variety with a short maturity date, like Jersey Wakefield, Pixie, Charmant )
- Cilantro (will love the cooler weather and will last until November/December)
- Daikon and other winter radishes (the pretty Watermelon radish is a daikon and should be planted now)
- Kale and Collards ( you can direct sow or pre-start)
- Lettuce and other greens can be succession sown directly into the garden for fresh greens all summer.
- Onions, green onions or over-wintering onions (direct sow or pre-start)
- Swiss chard
Prestart these seeds now in pots or trays and plant in the garden in a few weeks time.
- Kale, for fall and winter harvest
- Lettuce, Spinach, and other greens (direct sow or pre-start)
- Onions, green onions (scallions) and winter onions
Too late to sow or start now, find starter plants at the nursery.
- Broccoli, purple sprouting for spring harvest
- Cabbage, winter harvest, like Danish Ballhead, Huron, January King
- Cauliflower, winter harvest, like Galleon.
Happy fall gardening in summer : )