6 Things: Fall Crops to Start From Seed Now
As we enjoy the bounty of juicy strawberries, fragrant tomatoes, and tender squash from our summer gardens, it’s easy to forget that phase two of the growing season is just around the corner. For vegetable lovers in particular, autumn is just as productive a season as spring or summer and we’re officially in full fall planning mode. To kick it off, we chatted with Kerry Ann McLean from our green goods team to get her expert tips on six crop varieties that can be tricky to start from seed, but well worth the extra effort.
1. Broccoli: Cabbage relatives are some of the more challenging seeds to start. These have longer days to maturity (when the plant produces their harvestable head, bud, or leaf) and usually have to be started indoors a full month before they’re moved to the garden.
2. Cauliflower: The end of July to early August is the tipping point for these crops—any later and they may not mature before a killing frost or freeze (especially in northern climates). Because summers can be extremely hot, dry, or violently stormy, these crops require a dedicated protected growing space with adequate light, modified temperatures, and an even, regular supply of water.
3. Brussels sprouts: An indoor growing space can be as simple as the ledge of a south facing window with plants as close to the glass as possible to get the most light. You can also put them in a tray under a grow light with the lamp never more than four inches from the uppermost leaf of the seedling.
4. Cabbage: Even, regular watering is essential to good seedling development. Soils that are too soggy or go through periods of dryness will stress and damage developing seedlings.
5. Kale: To prevent “legginess” (when a seedling appears too long, thin, and floppy), provide as much light as possible for 18 hours a day.
6. Leeks: Finally, when the time comes to transplant seedlings into the garden, gently ease them into the outdoor world—sunlight will scald a seedling’s tender leaves without the protection of some shade until toughened up.
Kerry Ann finishes by saying: “the ever magical garden experiment called seed starting can be a challenge, but with any gardening project, I always recommend to start easy, succeed once, get hooked, and then step up your game to more challenging tasks.”
Don’t forget to stop by your local terrain nursery to stock up on your fall garden essentials!