September 28, 2015

Garden Share Collective: Seeding a Winter Vegetable Garden

Asparagus starting to change color signaling autumn, the asparagus was started from seed April/May of this year.
In the United States most of us are well into fall/autumn. I really wanted to do a big fall garden this year which means lots of direct seeding.

For the month of September I have been direct seeding in the garden:
  • radish 
  • daikon 
  • turnip 
  • beet
  • sprouting broccoli
  • sprouting turnip
  • spinach
  • chicory
  • radicchio
  • and lots and lots of carrots.
I love growing vegetables from seed. The whole process of plants popping out of the soil and watching them develop through their life cycle. But I love direct seeding so much, just sprinkle some seeds, a little dirt, and some water and you are done. Water once a day till the seedlings are up and you are well on your way.

Don't get me wrong. I like starting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and broccoli indoors in seed starting trays but it's so much more work. Spritzing the soil twice a day with a spray bottle till the seeds germinate. Schlepping the seedling trays outside when its warm and inside on frosty nights, while still watering everyday. And then planting the 50 tomato plants, the 30 peppers or eggplants which takes days. Just thinking about it makes my back hurt.

I try to make the indoor seed starting as painless as possible by giving tomatoes only 4 weeks to grow and peppers and eggplants maybe 6 weeks before planting them outside. The seeds are started in trays, once they germinate they're pricked out and planted individually into larger containers. If it's remotely warm outside they immediately get set out, even before the seeds have sprouted, on a table protected from cold winds by a full privacy fence where they get 10-12 hours of full sun. Supposedly some peppers need light to help them germinate. When frost threatens they are brought inside at night (usually by a husband because I work late into the wee hours of the morning).

Plans for October:
  • Finish digging out the other half of the garden so planting can be finished.
  • Direct seed lettuce, fennel, kale, Asian greens, and garlic.
  • Direct seed even more carrot, beet, turnip, and spinach.

Radishes in the front bulbing up and soon to be removed to give room to the growing carrots and spinach. Turnips and kohlrabi growing well in the bed behind the radishes.
Lots of different things growing in this bed like sprouting broccoli, sprouting, turnip, carrot, beet, turnip, spinach, chicory, and radicchio.
Newly sprouted carrots.
Beets just forming their true leaves.
And spinach growing well.
Corno di Toro sweet peppers.
The mild to medium spicy Pablano peppers did very well this year.
This little Shishito sweet pepper made lots of peppers and is still full of blossoms, although it's starting to die back with cool weather.
It was a terrible year for tomatoes and eggplants which were in beds behind the peppers but have recently been cleared out. Flooding and lots of big rain storms in early summer battered and bruised the green tomatoes so when they started ripening they rotted on the vine. The excess water also caused the flea beetle population to explode which decimated the eggplants.

Hopefully next year will be better.


norma chang said...

I am surprised at the number of crops you are direct sowing in September for harvest this year. How long is your growing season?

Margaret said...

I didn't realize you had also grown asparagus from seed this year. Or maybe I did - my memory isn't the greatest ;) Looks like your plants are at about the same stage as mine, although mine haven't started to turn brown yet. Not sure if I should be worried about that as we will likely have a frost very soon which will probably kill the foliage outright.

I know what you mean about direct seeding - I just wish I had more luck with it. I tried to direct seed lettuce this fall and out of the dozens of seeds I scattered only a handful of them actually came up. Same with my direct sown spinach - doesn't come close to the dense patch of seedlings you have! Not that I could direct seed a lot of veg anyhow as our growing season is so short that most of the time, it's more a matter of getting things going sooner so that they have time to mature in the garden. And I see you have your husband do some of the seed tray schlepping...very smart!

Phuong said...

Hi Norma,
Our first frost is around the last week of October or first week of November. After the first frost we usually get a few weeks of mild weather. Our first heavy frost normally doesn't occur until the last week of November.

The last frost for us occurs the first week of April so our growing season is fairly long.

Phuong said...

Hi Margaret,
I think it's pretty cool that we both started asparagus from seed this year, I'm hoping to move them to their permanent bed in front of the house next year.

When it comes to lettuce and spinach, I really think a lot has to do with the seeds. I had a couple of packets of spinach seeds that didn't come up too so I re-seeded with a different variety. Your peppers and tomatoes seem to be doing great this year even with the blight. And your broccoli and potato harvest are fantastic. I really need to work on my timing for broccoli, potato, and Brussels sprouts.

I think gardeners must enjoy challenges and experimentation because it's always something one year to the next.

Texan said...

I have tried and tried to grow beets here in spring and never do I get a beet.. Maybe I can this winter! I have some diakon radish to plant as well and some other fall radish... a Spanish black for one. I have some greens I am going to try and see if they will do better for me over the winter! Its still just a bit to hot here to plant yet. Once we get out of the 90s I can do some planting of seeds then.

I have some seeds I am re-homing I did a post on my blog... I figured someone else might enjoy having a go at them. Come over and throw your hat in the ring if you think you might like them. :O)

I think when we retire to Arkansas.. our climate will be much more like what you have there. It for sure will not be near as hot as here. Zone 6b will be our gardening zone then. I am reallllllly looking forward to a cooler climate to garden in!
What is your garden zone?

Your peppers are still making that is great. Where this last summer was probably one of the worst gardens I have had due to the flooding and then scorching heat right behind that and no rain... but I am ready to tackle next years already.. :O)... I am staying with my tried and true for this next year. I need a good garden so I can put up a lot this next summer since I didn't get to can much at all this summer!

lizzie {Strayed Table} said...

Sowing seed into the ground is the best, I agree. You have really put quite a lot of food in for the cooler months, I am really going to look forward to seeing how it goes. I am blessed to be in subtropical Australia where I can grow just about anything all year round. The only downside is that we get no frosts that kill off the bugs and fruitfly appear with vengeance in summer.

Anonymous said...

Your garden is looking great for fall and your capsicums are awesome!

Phuong said...

Hi Texan,
The weather has been so crazy this year, awful really. Definitely go for a fall garden with your beets and radishes. A few of my radishes have bolted that were planted the last week of August but the October sown ones usually do great. I was reading about a gardener in central Texas that grew Brussels sprouts during the winter, he seemed pretty thrilled when they started forming sprouts.

We were considered zone 6b up until this year when they graded us to zone 7a, so I'm sure our climate will be very very similar. Arkansas looks so beautiful, the mountains are gorgeous. Kentucky is flat as a pancake.

Oh, and I tried cooking radish greens yesterday, they were great.

Phuong said...

Hi Lizzie,
It must be wonderful having such a long growing season but the fruitflies that damage your developing tomatoes are a menace. We have some fruit flies and gnats but they never seem to damage developing fruit like they do in Australia.

Even moving from the cold desert mountains where I grew up to here in Kentucky with its milder winters, it's amazing the amount of bugs they have here and most of them I've seen before.

It's fun seeing Australia move into spring and the start of the big growing season.

Phuong said...

Hi GardeningHands,
I've really been enjoying starting the fall garden. The capsicums grew very tall this year, they're still setting lots of fruit even though their end is nigh.

Your early spring garden is looking wonderful, fennel bulb is such a pretty plant.

Kyrstie Barcak said...

You have loads planted in the garden for fall. Well done, your little plants and neat rows are inspiring. I don't have as much planting directly into the soil as I do using trays so tend to stick to those and am getting excited about our impending tomato season in Australia. Have a great month.

Phuong said...

Hi Kyrstie,
Normally I don't do a lot of direct seeding because the slugs are so voracious, only the lettuce seedlings are spared their hunger. But the new garden doesn't have much in way of slugs which is amazing. Yay for no slugs.

It looks like your seedlings are growing very well, tomatoes are so delicate looking with their fuzzy stems.

africanaussie said...

You have quite a lot of crops growing - everything looks very healthy. I like the fact that you grow things quite close together I do the same thing.

Texan said...

I got my onions sets at Lowes, They were in bags in with the flower bulbs they get in this time of year. These are hardy to very cold temps according to the bag. These are not like the onions starts with the green tops you buy in bundles in the spring. These are like little marble sized onions with the paper skin on them but no green tops just the onion part. Several of the mail order places sell them you could get some there if your Lowes doesn't have them. I had never grown these till last year. Just google onions set. I didn't know till last year that these are onion sets and the green little ones we buy in bundles in the spring are onion starts LOL .. always learning I am :O)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my site and your comments on the mix with the capsicums, my mix is 50% peat I have some commercial mix that I will try and fingers crossed for better germination.

Phuong said...

Hi AfricanAussie,
Your garden is looking beautiful and lush. It looks like we garden in the same way, really close together which makes for less weeding. And I like letting leafy greens go to seed, free plants that don't take any work. Wonderful!

Phuong said...

Hi Texan,
I'm going to check Lowes out and see if they have any onion sets. I had a very bad time with onions and green onions started from seed, it'd be wonderful if we even got green onions from the sets.

Phuong said...

Hi GardeningHands,
Capsicums and peppers can be so particular in general. They don't like it too cold and they don't like it too hot. I've had peppers take 2 months to sprout, I had given up on them and planted other things in their tray. But normally they don't take that long.