I know it is too hot to think about fall, but it is time to
plan the fall garden and to start some seeds to grow into transplants to put
out later in the fall. Many months of
warm weather remain before the first fall frost arrives, so there is also
plenty of time to plant more crops of beans, crowder peas, basil, dill,
cilantro, cucumbers, and winter squash, among other heat-loving plants, before
frost arrives. If your first attempt at
a summer garden failed, try again.
Sometimes pests that attack plants early in the season have moved on
later in the season.
I will not try to set out any plants soon, but I plan to sow
some seeds in the garden within the next couple of weeks, as soon as I can find
a place clear of other crops. I will
start the seeds while it is still hot instead of waiting for cooler
temperatures because the plants need time to become established before cooler
weather comes. If I wait until late September
when the weather cools and I naturally start thinking about the fall garden, frost
will damage the baby plants. Older
plants tolerate frost.
Before I sow any seeds during hot weather, I soak the soil
with water. After I plant the seeds, I
water them very gently, and continue to water them gently once or twice a day,
depending on rainfall, until they germinate.
Mature plants, with deep roots, need infrequent, long soakings. Seeds, which are only in the top inch or less
of soil, need only enough water to keep the top inch or so of soil moist. They need gentle mists of water, because
vigorous water applications will wash the seeds away. To reduce watering chores, consider laying
moistened strips of cardboard on top of the seeds; just make sure to remove it
when the seeds germinate.
After I sow the seeds, I put metal hoops across a garden row
and I lay shade cloth across them, pinning it down with clothespins. Shade cloth is available at garden centers or
. Old sheets will work also; use something that
blocks the hottest rays of the sun while allowing some light.
When they seeds sprout, I continue to keep the soil moist,
but I gradually wean them off such frequent watering so they will develop deep
roots. I leave the shade cloth up until the weather
becomes cooler, and I gradually expose the seedlings to brighter sunlight. If the seedlings look too tall and spindly,
they are not getting enough sunlight.
Within the next few weeks, sow seeds outdoors for beets,
carrots, collards, and rutabagas for the fall, and sow seeds of summer
vegetables listed earlier. You may begin
sowing seeds of kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts,
cabbage, and cauliflower indoors. Keep
the baby seedlings inside, under grow lights, and away from scorching
temperatures until the weather cools.
Outdoors, continue to sow seeds of carrots, beets, chard,
Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsnips,
radishes, spinach, and turnips. Keep
the soil moist through frequently misting the soil with water, provide shade as
needed, and you should have a garden ready for harvest throughout the fall and
For information about what to plant when
, and which plants to sow indoors and outdoors at different times of the year for an ongoing harvest, visit the Mother Earth News website. Through succession planting,
which is having another crop ready for the garden when the previous one is
finished, I can harvest something from my garden every day of the year.