Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Starting fall vegetables

It's hard to imagine in mid-summer, when it's so hot and humid here, but I should already have stout brussels sprouts and broccoli seedlings ready to transplant if I want to attempt a fall crop. The seedlings that I have are pretty small, so I'll have to hope that they'll do OK.

But, I have all the seeds I need to start sowing the last rows of summer beans and squash, and gradually work my way through the sequence of planting beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, peas and spinach (not necessarily in that order!) A friend was lamenting the absence of any tomato transplants for fall in our local big box garden centers. It's a pity since it would be a great time to put in a 'second shift of tomatoes' in our warm climate. For us, as odd as it seems in a rural area, either growing your own seedlings, or ordering transplants through mail order are the primary options, unless you manage to get some at a local farmer's market.

I was delighted to read a By Design opinion piece Grow your own today in the New York Times. A city dweller, Allison Arieff reports on an urban trend (think NY, San Francisco, and Portland) of hiring an 'urban farmer' to come in and convert part of your yard to a vegetable garden, tending and picking it for you. The comments to date on the piece (and this trend) are fascinating, from raves to disparaging remarks.

I think it's a wonderful first step for Allison and her husband to start enjoying their backyard as a source of veggies (and green space), then realize that doing it themselves is even more fun. Just becoming more aware of where all of your food is coming from, how it's grown, and how it got to you is revealing.

Lots of people hire folks to mow their lawns and blow their leaves; why not hire someone (experienced) to grow vegetables, and teach you in the process?

3 comments:

  1. What's your carrot-planting scheme here for Fall? Everything I've read has told me July, so I faithfully planted a couple of weeks ago. Not much has come up yet-- and I planted thickly, put some straw mulch loosely over the bed and make sure to keep it moist. At two weeks plus, I'm beginning to worry. I just think it may be too hot. Any ideas? Think I could try again if these don't germinate soon or is it too late?
    My broccoli and brussel sprouts are still tiny too but I'm betting that's okay.

    Lovely entry on local markets with the global photos.

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  2. I'm afraid I don't have a very good carrot planting scheme for this heat and drought. But, carrot seeds CAN take 2-3 weeks to germinate, and the hot dry weather is definitely a detriment to germination, so yours may still pop out. It's definitely one of those vegetables that you think has failed, and then will slowly appear.

    But I'd certainly try another sowing, with moist straw on top again; since carrots generally need to have 2-3 months to grow before frost, there's definitely time to experiment.

    My best carrots have been in spring, but I haven't grown a tremendous number of them. My spring carrots this year were slow to develop decent roots (probably because they really didn't get enough water). Carrots need such nice deep soil, etc. -- they're definitely not the easiest vegetable to grow here in our heavy clay soils.

    I just read something this morning about seeding brussels sprouts and broccoli (in SC) in August, so our small seedlings should be fine.

    Thanks for the nice comment about the post about local markets and global photos (which my gardening companion took). Visiting vegetable markets is one of the things we always seek out when traveling to distant places.

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  3. Thanks so much. I'm wondering if I might have planted my carrots a little too deeply, but let's hope I just need to be more patient with them. I grown them in raised beds and had a good crop in the spring.

    Anytime we go anywhere we head to the markets first. I lived in Italy and Germany for awhile and just loved being able to go to the market several days a week, getting to know vendors, etc. Not quite the same, but I'm off to the G'ville Farmers Market this morning for a few things I don't grow like corn and nectarines. Thanks again!

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