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--- Anne K Moore  August 14, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---

Many of you still have time to plant a fall garden.  You can start hardy vegetables like cabbage, kale, mustard, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, and lettuce now either by direct sowing or by transplanting to the garden.  These vegetables thrive in cool weather. 

If you drape spun fabric row covers over your garden beds, you can have clean vegetables without any insect or disease damage.  In addition, some heavier spun fabrics are available to protect your veggies from an early frost.

State Cooperative Extension Services give you all you need to know about growing.  You can find information on when to plant seeds for a fall garden that is specific to your area.

Seed catalogs are wonderful sources of information.  They have new varieties for you to try.  They often will give you the number of days you will need to harvest each of your crops.  Usually, one packet of seeds costs less than one plant at the garden center.  Those fresh-from-the-garden vegetables are within reach.  Have more plants but spend less money.  Good deal.

Look for seed catalogs online if you don't have paper copies.  When you place your order, make sure all of your choices will ship right away.  Some catalog companies do not ship in the summer and automatically hold orders for later fall shipping.  Be sure to request immediate shipping and check to see how long they estimate it will take to fill your order. 

You can directly sow lettuce and radishes into the garden.  They are quick to come up and mature.

You can start seeds for cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli indoors in small containers with drainage holes, using a good seed-starting mix.  Follow the directions on the seed packet for depth of planting.  Topping the medium with a layer of perlite or sand can help keep the seedling stems dry.  Don't bury the seed or use a topping if the seed needs light to germinate.  Keep the little pots in bright light.  To keep the mix from drying out, cover the tops with plastic wrap.  Remove the wrap as soon as the seedlings appear.

Give them a half strength feeding of liquid fertilizer when they start to grow and feed them periodically.  When the seedlings have their first true leaves, (usually the second set of leaves you will see) start hardening them off by moving them outdoors into a sheltered shady spot.  Move them into early morning sun for longer and longer periods each day to get them used to the sunlight.  Do not put them directly from indoors into full sun.  They will remind you why you should not do this by dropping dead.

It may seem early to start planning for a winter garden.  Longing for the winter garden is easy with the 90-degree plus days of summer.  Once you grow a fall or winter garden, you will wonder why you waited so long to try it. 


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