Last night, I pulled a box of Jiffy Pellets from my garden-supplies shelf and a few seed packets from their storage boxes, and I started some broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants. Am I a total loon to be starting this early? It turns out that the answer is “no.” Now is definitely the time to start some of the fall crops that typically are set into the garden as transplants.
Seeds that I hope to plant directly into the garden in mid-August (just four weeks from now!) include carrots, beets, and winter radishes. The lettuces, spinach, and other greens that would normally be planted outside at about the same time can be started in flats, to be transplanted out later. I usually don’t start the fall greens in trays (or peat-pellets), but this year I might need to.
My garden got off to a late start this year; I kept waiting for warm weather, and it was very slow in coming! That means that the whole garden is running behind. As a result, it will be more of a challenge than usual to get the fall crops planted, making the use of lots of transplants much more necessary. Transplants can go into the ground later than seeds, giving the summer crops more time to finish their work.
The good news for gardeners who don’t have the right packets of seed on hand is that, in the past several years, local stores have begun keeping seeds in stock right through the summer. A decade or so ago, by mid-July there no longer were any seeds in stock on shelves in any of the usual places. We all had to plan ahead much more carefully!
For people who are new to Fall gardening or who have questions or want to know more, I’ll be giving talks on Planning the Fall Vegetable Garden in the next couple of weeks. One will be at the Cobb County Extension office (Tuesday, July 23, 6:30 p.m.) and one at Chestnut Ridge Christian Church (Saturday, August 3, 10:30 a.m.). Both are free and open to anyone who’d like to attend.