August 6, 2012

Fall Veggies: Get 'em in the Ground this Month!

With temperatures headed into the triple digits later this week, it doesn't feel much like Fall around Davis, but now is the time to get those Fall vegetables--like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower--in the ground. You still have time to start from seed if you like, or you can buy starts at the local nurseries and the Co-op.

Cole crop seed packets

This year I used mostly seed bought in years past from Territorial Seed Company. Seeds from cole crops, like the ones pictured above, have a shelf life of about three years if stored under good conditions, so my packets from 2010 and 2011 were still fine. Two and a half weeks ago, I got out the seeds, dirt, water, trays, and labels and spread them on the backyard table for an early evening seed-starting session.

Flowers, wine & seed packets

Charlie, my little helper, joined me as we filled trays with soil and dropped seeds in the rows. I placed the seeds while Charlie recorded which type of vegetable was being planted in each row.

Planting seeds

Recording what was planted

Fast forward to this weekend and we had a nice tray of seedlings, many of which were ready to be transplanted. (I will admit that a few days ago I came within about 30 minutes of losing the entire batch of seedlings, after lazily setting them in a very sunny spot without having provided enough water to help the tiny plants through such a heat spell.)

Teeny red beets

Yesterday was up-potting day, and what a perfect day it was to be transplanting vegetables! Rarely do we get a mid-70s day, cloud cover and even a few sprinkles in August. The weather doesn't get much better than that for helping little seedlings deal with the physical shock of being moved from their original small cell to a larger pot. I even put the trays in the greenhouse when I was done, where they were protected from the wind and still relatively cool because of the clouds (the greenhouse can reach 120 degrees inside on a normal, hot August day even with the doors and window open.)

Perfect temperatures for planting

I transferred about 20 of the tallest seedlings into 3 and 4 inch pots filled with potting soil, and will give them another two weeks to fill out before planting them in raised beds, assuming they make it past the dangers of birds, sun/heat, and caterpillars. Hopefully we will have a nice selection of beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower plants to choose from. Winter white bunching onions, carrots, chard, kale and radicchio are on the planting schedule for September.

Tray of Brassica starts

Are you planting a fall garden this year? What's going in it?


  1. The glass of red pictured being the most critical part of the seed selection process, of course!

    You've got me motivated to try planting Fall veggies this year!

    1. Awesome, Chad! What do you think you might try? And yes, the Shiraz was a must on that particular evening of seed starting. :)