Tag Archives: fall garden

3 Reasons to Transplant Lettuce

Lettuce is a perfect crop for cool season gardening. The incredible array of varieties brings a colorful assortment to fall, winter, and spring meals. As you’re planting your fall crops there are a number of lettuces to choose from. You can sow loose leaf mixes, romaine, bibb, or crisphead lettuce. If you’re growing a heading variety you may want to consider starting your lettuce indoors and transplanting seedlings out.

  1. Better germination.

    Starting a fall garden often means seeding cool weather crops in hot weather. Starting seeds indoors, in a cool place typically means better germination rates. Lettuce doesn’t need light to germinate so you can set them in a basement or root cellar even if it’s dark until they germinate. Alternatively you can set them in the refrigerator for the first night.

  2. No wasted space.

    Having reliable, healthy seedlings means you waste less space in your garden. When you’re planting a fall garden you’re often dealing with restricted space, only planting what you have a cold frames, row cover, or a hoop house to protect. You also have a relatively small window to get crops started. Setting out transplants means that you can make the most of every square in of your garden. You won’t have patches where seed failed to germinate as we discussed above.

  3. More time.

    Having transplants started also means that that you have a little more leeway for when you plant. It’s essential to get fall crops started on time so that they get established before the temperatures drop.

 

Growing Transplants

Start your lettuce in flats or soil blocks of moist, quality potting mix. Keep them somewhere cool at least until they germinate. Once germinated your lettuce should be placed under lights or somewhere they get direct sunlight. Lettuce should be transplanted when the plants are between 2-3 inches tall.

Transplanting

You should harden off your lettuce plants 7-10 days before transplanting. Bring them outdoors for a few hours, increasing the length of time each day. Prepare your bed by loosening the soil and adding compost if available.

Plant your lettuce at the same depth as they were in the pot. Even if they’re leggy, don’t bury the stem. Lettuce stems won’t grow roots like tomatoes and some other plants. Water them in after planting and keep the soil moist especially as they get established. Be sure to have your season extenders ready to go in case of frost.

 

September Planting

Cool crisp September mornings are a pleasant time to spend in the garden. While fall brings cooler temperatures and dwindling sunlight it can still be a productive time in the vegetable patch. Here are a few plants you can sow this September and a few of our favorite fall varieties. In Virginia we’re sowing:

  • Mustards
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Endive
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Austrian Peas
  • Winter Wheat

Always keep in mind that exact planting dates will vary with your location. For those farther south, you’ll still be planting less cold-hardy crops while those in the far north should be preparing to plant garlic and perennial onions. September is also a good time to think about season extension.

Chinese Thick-Stem Mustard

This variety from Even’ Star Farm offers superb cold tolerance and is hardy down to 6°F. It also has excellent flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. Though not quite as cold tolerant, Red Giant Mustard can also be used for fall planting and adds a nice pop of color.

Lacinato Rainbow Mix Kale

This variety offers the delicious flavor of Lacinato kale and gorgeous colors. Created by crossing classic Lacinato with Redbor hybrid kale; this kale is extra-cold-hardy! The 2014 seed crop went through a -6°F freeze and seed was saved from the plants that survived. This OSSI variety was bred by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed.

Even’ Star Winter Arugula

Another Even’ Star Farm variety, this arugula is cold-hardy down to 6°F. It can be grown in open fields or hoop houses and does well with little watering and poor soil fertility. 

Red Salad Bowl

A great fall variety with gorgeous color. Salad Bowl is also a good choice for a green fall lettuce.

Rouge d’Hiver (Red Winter) Romaine Lettuce

Here in Virginia, we’ve had good luck overwintering this variety under row cover. It’s a tasty French heirloom that dates back to 1840. Rouge d’Hiver forms semi-open romaine heads.

Misato Rose Fall Radish

Beautiful and forgiving, this radish deserves a place in your fall garden. Perfect for adding color to autumn salads this radish will bulb properly even when crowded or thinned late.

Winter Bloomsdale Spinach

Adapted for fall planting and overwintering, these slow-bolting plants are resistant to blue mold, blight, and mosaic. They have dark green, well-savoyed leaves.

Nabo Roxo Comprido Turnip

These long white, purple-topped turnips are widely grown in Portugal as a dual-purpose crop. They’re excellent for fall planting and can be used as fodder as well as great eating for the winter table.

Austrian Winter Peas

Hardy to 0°F, Austrian Winter Peas make an excellent edible cover crop. They fix nitrogen in the soil and the tendrils or growing tips can be snipped off for use in salads!

Hard Winter Wheat

Bred in the Southeast, this new variety produces excellent grain for baking or can be used as a cover crop. It provides high yields and has very good wheat rust resistance.

This September, try a couple of SESE fall favorites in your vegetable patch. It’s also an excellent time to plant cover crops which can help improve your soil’s health. This time of year can also be used to add perennials to your landscape.

August Planting

August is generally thought of as harvest season. Many gardeners are busy canning tomatoes, curing winter squash, and trying to figure out exactly how to use all that zucchini. No matter where you live you can also plant in Agust. Exactly what you can plant when varies depending on your climate.

Below you’ll find a few great varieties for August planting. To find out more specific about your climate and when you should plant check out The Farmer’s Almanac First and Last Frost Date Calculator, our post Everything You Need to Know About Plant Hardiness Zones, or this handy Frost Zone Map from The Spruce.

Tatsoi Mustard

Cool Climates

In cool climates, August planting can be a challenge. Your area may still be experiencing hot temperatures but won’t be for very long. You’ll need to select varieties with short seasons and some cold tolerance. If it’s still hot in your area these cool-season crops may need extra care to germinate and get started. Be sure to keep them moist and use shade cloth and/or mulch to keep the soil cool if needed. Those in cool climates may also want to consider some form of season extension which is discussed later in this post. Here are just a few good varieties to plant this August.

American Purple Top Yellow Rutabaga

Warm Climates

Those who live in warmer climates (especially zone 8 and farther south) will be able to plant more heat-loving vegetables in August than you could further north. However, some fall crops like spinach and radishes that are great for cool climates will have trouble germinating in the heat and may need to be planted later. Here are just a few good varieties to plant this August.

Other Plants

There are many other varieties that can be planted in August. Root crops like carrots, beets, turnips and rutabagas are all great choices. You can also look at cold hardy brassicas and greens.

You can also plant or begin planning to add perennials to your garden. Perennials like fruit trees and rhubarb transplants are an excellent way to add to your garden this fall. They should be planted several weeks before the ground freezes so they can get established. Be sure too keep them watered even though it’s cool.

Season Extension

August is also a good time to think about season extension. You’ll be able to grow crops farther into the winter if you can provide them some protection. Depending on your budget you may consider setting up cold frames, low tunnels, or even a hoop house. Cold frames and low tunnels tend to be the quickest and most budget-friendly options. Cold frames can be made from simple materials and like straw bales and old windows and may help you grow cold-hardy greens right through the winter.

Easy Season Extension For Fall

A gardener’s work is never done! Keep planting this August with a few of these awesome varieties.