Fall is arriving, and now you have another chance to plant. This time, look for cool season vegetable seeds – and start using some of your free time to make planting plans for the next growing season.
Autumn Planting… and Planning
Autumn allows you time for planning for the following spring, when the weather gradually warms and the ground thaws in fits and starts.
Unlike in fall, gardeners will plant seeds for both cool and warm season vegetables and inside and outdoors.
You will be able to use every nook and cranny of your garden space more efficiently by making notes on these questions:
- Which vegetables do you want to grow?
- Do you want to grow them from seeds?
- Which plants you are growing from saved seed?
- Which kind of seeds do you need to purchase?
- Which vegetable transplants are you purchasing?
Your ideas may change as you gather more information, but now you have time to make a plan to plant your vegetable seeds.
Food Gardeners Starting with Seeds
Gardeners see many advantages to starting their plants from seeds. Using seeds gives you a wider selection of plants than from what you could choose at a local garden center. Growing plants from seed is also more economical.
But for many gardeners, it is simply their favorite way to grow plants. And, in the gardening world, growing plants from seeds is an acknowledged talent that we should admire.
Once you have made your list of vegetables and fruits you wish to grow, divide the list between cool season and warm season plants.
For example, gardeners grow garlics, Swiss chard, and radishes when the season is cooler and tomatoes and peppers after the soil is warm and temperatures feel summer-like.
At the same time, research what the last average spring frost and first average fall frost dates are for your area. For example: in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, the average last spring frost date is April 29 and the average first fall frost date is October 16.
Going back to your food list, divide them between cool and warm veggies, you want to research more information for each plant. A short growing season does complicate determining which seeds you can start outside and when, and which seeds you can start indoors.
Start seeds indoors to extend their short growing seasons; look for veggie varieties that have shorter “days to harvest” numbers.
Determine which seeds, like carrots for instance, dislike their roots being disturbed, and warm season vegetables, like squashes and pumpkins, respond better to being directly sown outside, too.
For example, the sweet pepper is a warm season plant that takes 60 – 70 days to produce a harvest. Pepper plants need warm soil and, for northern gardens, that can mean planting them in the ground as late as early June.
Sweet pepper seeds are a good candidate to start indoors. Start the seeds approximately 8 – 10 weeks before your last average spring frost date.
Gardeners who grow vegetables in the south have a similar dilemma. Though, in the south, very hot middle-of-the-summer months create short, growing seasons instead of freezing temperatures in autumn. A Swiss chard like Peppermint Stick is a good choice to grow as early as your region allows and, then, later in autumn before freezing temperatures arrive.
Succession planting is another technique to extend your growing season. Gardeners that sow repeated batches of seeds will ensure a rotation of harvests for fresh food and flowers every week or so.
Planting Information on a Seed Packet
Companies pack the seed packets with seeds inside, and planting information on its backside. You will find planting information and garden tips:
- Check the sell by date stamped on the packet to invest in the freshest seed.
- Look at the map on the back, color coded with the best-months-to-plant times outside.
- Find number of days to germination; the planting depth; number of days to harvest; and the spacing by row and by plant.
- Planting directions include how to plant the seed; in a row, with x number of seeds per hole, or in a mound.
Learn the different kinds of seeds, which helps you determine the seeds of your own to save. Seed differences include: open pollinated, heirlooms, hybrid, patented and genetically modified varieties.
The open pollinated (OP) category includes heirlooms because they all grow true to type. But not all OP plants are heirlooms. There are a few that are patent plants, though if one kind is a hybrid seed, it is not patented.
Genetically modified and F1 varieties produce seed but saving them for next year will prove fruitless. F1 varieties that you like are best for buying new seed or transplants the following year.
Heirloom vegetables are in vogue, but not all heirloom vegetables are worth the effort to grow. Gardeners frequently change their seed lists as veggies are grown and taste-tested. Seeds are cheap enough to purchase that finding your favorites and discarding the rest is an acceptable garden practice. If you’re a new gardener, feel free to try many varieties before your choose your favorites.
Seed companies will mention the seeds that need special treatment, like scarification, or abrading the seed’s coating, on seed packets. Morning glories, for example, are well-known for having information on the packet about scraping the seed coat, or soaking the seeds in water over night.
Back of a Plant Tag Information for Vegetable Gardeners
Starter plants are transplants found in multi-packs, and out in spring for vegetable gardeners. A plant tag should accompany each multi-pack, even when the packs are on the discount shelf.
At the end of the spring/summer planting season, you will find rows of packs marked down. It is an opportune time to try a new veggie.
If you have less space to start seeds than the number of vegetables you want to grow, you’ll find purchasing transplants worth the effort.
Store-bought transplants are also convenient for trying a new variety later in the season – or a type you did not find in the seed rack, planting ones difficult to grow at home to seedling stage, or to replace seeds that did not make it through spring.
Quality plants tags identify the name of the plant by common or trade name and botanical name, note how big the plant will grow, the spacing it requires, and what light exposure the plant needs.
Planning the Time to Plant Vegetable Seeds in a New Garden Season
For a segment of the gardening community, growing plants from seeds is the reason why they garden; for them it is pure joy to watch plants develop.
For other gardeners who grow their own food or flowers and want a variety of plants, for instance, sowing seeds serves as an economical means to an end.
Timing your vegetable seeds is a technique that allows you to use your garden space in the most effective manner possible.
Gardeners love plants, and for those who love to start plants from seeds, there is an unending range of varieties to grow.