…you have to be a season ahead.
No garden centers or nurseries here sell any vegetable packs for fall planting. Where I live, if I want to have fall crops, I need to plan ahead.
So on the check list for fall crops: Brussels Sprouts (Diablo), Broccoli (Premium Crop) & (Purple Peacock), Cauliflower (Snow Crown) & Cabbages (Early Jersey Wakefield and Danish Ballhead) all of these will be seeded in the above flats. There are others that will be direct seeded after July 4th like more beets, more kales, spinach and such. I also planted out two flats of lettuce, one full flat of Anuenue a favorite of mine for summer lettuce as it does not bolt and is not bitter. It’s just coming into it’s own when the tomatoes are ripening up…can you say BLT? Oh yeah. Then one mixed flat of lettuces, bibb, romaine, and leaf.
I buy most of my seeds from Fedco – Co-op Seeds. Fedco, a Maine based cooperative specializes in varieties well suited to shorter season cool climate gardens. Although I favor heirlooms over hybrids, I do not exclude hybrids from my garden. Likewise with organic seed. On principle I like to purchase organic seed to support the cause as it were, but will happily settle for growing non organic seeds organically. It’s about balance for me. Cost/availability/quality. I also pick up seed at the local Agway and save my own seed. The amount of seed I have is certainly more than enough for our family of three. One of my goals this year is to use up older seed or test for germination to clean up the stock.
When planting my own flats, I use a pro-mix medium that I buy in bales from the local feed store. It’s not super cheap, but the results are always good which makes it worthwhile. I recycle the cell packs from other purchases. These are saved throughout the year and kept in the barn to keep them from breaking down. Always remember to wet down the pro-mix before you put it in the flats. If you don’t you’ll have a near impossible time getting them watered afterward and the seed will float off in the water, not desirable at all. If you make this mistake, you’ll only do it once 😦 I fill a large bucket (also a freebie from the local grocery store bakery) with mix then hose the entire thing and stir it up by hand. You’ll be up to your elbows in mix, but you will know when the mix is properly moistened.
These few flats and the others will find their way into the garden for protection while they grow out. One year I left them on the table and the chickens hopped up and made a meal of my fall crops. Bad chickens! Lately the chickens have been eating the petunias I planted in a planter by the back door…that too is now in the garden. I love free range chickens most of the times… 😉
Our veggie patch is 6,000 square feet. Not huge, and not tiny. But certainly sufficient to grow enough food for three and sharing. We intensively crop those 6,000 square feet to yield anywhere from 12,000 to 18,000 square feet of food in a season. To do this kind of intensive cropping requires excellent soil management. We are fortunate, our soil is Class 1 agricultural soil, a glacial till that has few large rocks but with a perched fragipan at about 6 feet. We’re on a plateau so the soil is level. We amend our soil with compost and manure, unless tests reveal other needs. We have it tested every year to keep the food quality high as well as the yields. We weren’t just ‘lucky’ with this soil. When we were house hunting we did so with USDA soil maps 😉 We like to say we bought the soil and they threw in a house.
So fall farming and fashion share a seasonality tis true. I feel blessed to be so much the former, and not a whit the latter. The fashionista in our house is almost 13…one is enough.