Starting plants for Autumn…

 

It took me a few years to get a fall garden going. Every year I THOUGHT about it, but it just never happened. I might harvest a few loose beets, or keep my kales, collards and chard going until frost. But to replant peas? Replanting all the greens? Lettuces. Resowing some last minute sunflowers and marigolds? Never happened.

Part of it was that I was pretty intimidated by trying to start seeds in such hot weather. Would they burst forth from the partitioned potting soil but then wither and die in the heat? I hate seeing plants die. I hate it so much that I hand sow tiny seeds one at a time so that I don’t have to “thin” little seedlings. A neutral word that really describes plucking little living plantlets out of existence.  (Yes I realize how “out there” that sounds.)

So actually getting down to the nitty gritty of planting a fall garden was intimidating. But I knew if I ever wanted to taste brussells sprouts kissed by frost (cause that’s what they need to taste best) then I needed to buckle down and start some seeds…mid-august. When it’s hot. Like, really hot. All winter when starting plants I worry about how I’ll keep them warm enough to germinate. In the summer, it’s about not letting the heat bother those little plants so much that they become leggy. Which means shading them. Which also runs the risk of them becoming leggy.

At this point these little plants actually DO need more attention than my kids. (joke.)

So I ignored  my irrational fears of failure for the fall garden and I figured out that they are just as easy to start as a regular ol’ springtime garden. The key here is timing. Because even though it’s hot, with a little care you can avoid losing plants to the heat. What you can’t avoid (without a greenhouse or cold frame) is the KILLING FROST.  It’s as dangerous as it sounds. So being two weeks late on sowing seeds for fall harvest is just not acceptable. Good timing is your savior for the fall garden.

This year I’m sowing ton of greens, chicory for springtime flowering as well as marigolds and sunflowers that will hopefully give me some color all the way to Thanksgiving (a girl can dream, right?). Also, more calendula and chamomile for some medicinal tinctures and salves. (I’ll write more on that soon.)  Lastly a burst of annual herbs like fennel, basil, tulsi, dill, cilantro and more, to stock my kitchen before winter really sets in.

I’ll have plenty of extra starter plants for your fall garden too. It’s easy! And you won’t have the pressure of keeping tiny cold-loving seedlings alive in August. Which means more fun for you. 🙂

Happy planting!

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