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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time to transplant veggie starts for an autumn harvest

by Lili Mounce

On July 20, I wrote about planting vegetable seeds for an autumn harvest. I started the seeds in containers and grew them indoors under lights. This was to protect them from the ravenous slugs in my garden.  The day before our recent trip, I realized that they needed transplanting out. I didn't want them to suffer in the garden, from heat or slugs, so I moved the flat to the window. They did okay, got a little leggy, but okay.

The deadline for my garden, to get kale out and in the ground is around August 10, if I want to have much to harvest in October. So out to the garden I went. I cleared the spots for the transplants, pulled up the finished snow peas, weeded a whole lot and worked in some compost. The kale, chard and two types of lettuce were ready to transplant. I had started spinach seeds directly in the garden, as those don't transplant as well for me. The spinach is just now coming up and should give us enough for salads in late September. I also started seeds directly in the garden this week for mustard greens. Mustard greens germinate quickly and will mature in about 45 days.

I expect most of this week's planting will be ready for harvest mid-September, and continue until mid-November. By the time a hard freeze hits in late November, I'm pretty much done with gardening, anyway, and enjoy the break until spring. There is one big bonus to planting an autumn garden in our region. Kale, chard and mustard greens return in mid-March to give me fresh vegetables once again.

For many areas, it's not too late to begin planting for an autumn harvest. Quick to mature crops like mustard greens, spinach and radishes could still reach maturity in many locales, before heavy frost. A pot on a south facing exterior wall could be filled with salad greens, spinach and radishes. Some nurseries have fall veggie starts for sale. These could jump start a late planting, and provide salads throughout the month of September.

Any thoughts on an autumn garden in your yard?


  1. We used to plant greens to harvest in the fall and early into December. My favorite are turnip greens. Our summer garden is still producing quite a bit. It rained very hard last night too, so that will help it a bit since it was a dry summer.

    1. Good morning, Belinda!
      Oooh, turnip greens. I've got some turnip seeds. I'll see if I can clear a spot to plant some for greens. Thanks for the idea. I've had this packet for a few years. I stop planting turnips because they were always wormy. But planted as greens, now that would work!

      Thanks for the idea, Belinda! I hope your daughter's first week back in school was fabulous!

  2. This is just a general FYI on old seeds, in case someone doesn't know, There was a study several years ago, concerning seeds that were a few years old (by a few I mean up to 3 or 4 years). And the seeds that were 1 year old (from the date stamped on the packet) germinated better than the seeds that were from the current year.

    So, if you have seeds that are one or two years old, don't toss them just yet. You can check for germination by placing 10 seeds on a damp paper towel, folding the towel over, sliding into a plastic bag and placing in a warm place, like the top of the fridge. Check on them again in 7-10 days to see how many germinated. This will give you a percentage of viability, and you can adjust your seeding accordingly.

  3. Oh, to have a fall garden! The Normanator planted a spring garden that was taken over by bunnies and heat. He dared to plant a fall garden and again, the bunnies invaded and the heat devastated all his efforts. He had lovingly watered it, too, but to no avail.

    There is a retired teacher not far from us who has a ginormous garden and it has produced prolifically, thank goodness.

    I saw where someone took an old bookcase, turned it on its back and used the open spaces to plant garden goodies. It was placed on sawhorses...maybe THAT would keep the rabbits out?

    It may be something to consider...thanks for your great post. I am amazed at all you accomplish, Lili!


    1. My husband had to put in a 3-foot tall fence this year to keep out the bunnies. We currently have a vole which evades all traps and, most destructive, we had a woodchuck earlier this summer and that was a terrific problem!

      I had never heard of "double-cropping" before I got married. My husband has introduced me to the concept. We have spring greens (and are branching out into asparagus), the "traditional" summer garden, and fall greens. Swiss chard is a new-to-me veggie and I love it.

    2. Connie, I bet those bunnies were sooooo cute the first time you saw them! We just thought the squirrels were so adorable, that is until they picked every last cheery off our two trees. Then it became war!

      The bookcase idea sound interesting. I've seen a number of contraptions built to keep the critters out. Earlier this week I saw one of those garden beds on legs, for gardening without bending. I bet those would also work for keeping out bunnies. Our garden beds are raised just a bit. The few times we've had a lone bunny in the yard, he's not thought to climb up. But then, he'd never stay for long. And the coyotes are every where.

      Kris, we have a mountain beaver who evades all the traps we've set. But mostly he gets into the ornamentals in our yard. So we've enclosed several young shrubs with chicken wire.

      I read a book titled "Year Round Gardening" many years ago. And that's where I got the idea to plant multiple times a year. I'd never heard or thought of that before. I love chard because you get the green and the stems, which when chopped, make a nice addition to stir fries and soups.

  4. I love the look of your raised beds and pathways. How big is your garden area?

    1. Our garden is right behind the garage, and takes up about the same space as a two car garage. Each bed is roughly 8 feet square, but L-shaped, so a bit cut out of the square. The circle in the center is for herbs. And beyond the vegetable garden is the strawberry patch (4 beds about 4 feet wide, 8 feet long), and the raspberries, about the length of two of the strawberry beds. I have a pumpkin patch and potato alley, to the left of the strawberries. We've tried to convert all the space at this end of the yard to fruit and vegetables, as it's the only sunny spot. We could probably fit more in to this space, but, well, I like ordinary and useful things to be pretty, too.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. I just started some spinach seedlings. I'm hoping they'll grow alright in containers in my kitchen so I can pluck leaves as I go for salads. Your garden looks luscious!

    1. Hi Alicia!
      I hope your spinach grows well in the kitchen as well. Will you have them under grow lights, or in a sunny window? If a window, they may get a bit leggy. Somethings do better than others with less direct light. Parsley and garlic greens do okay for me in a window, but not so much with basil. I'm hoping to grow lettuce indoors this winter under lights. It would be nice to have salads in December and January.

      Good luck with your spinach!


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