Middle South

August, 2011
Regional Report

Sow Seeds for Fall

In an effort to encourage fall gardening and to help gardeners gain confidence with seeds, the Home Garden Seed Association has assembled a list of the Top Ten Fall Varieties that are fun and easy to grow. Those that made the list include beets, calendula, cilantro, kale, lettuce, peas, radish, salad greens, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Calculate Planting Time with Aplomb

The key to growing fall vegetables is figuring out the best date for sowing the seed. Plant too early and plants may suffer in summer's heat; plant too late and veggies may not mature fully. To find the optimum planting time, add two weeks to the "days to maturity" indicated on the seed packet, and calculate back from the average first frost date of your climate zone.

Sow Flowers in Autumn Too

Fall is an excellent time to start seeds of a variety of flowering perennials, such as daisies and coneflowers. If you're in luck, some will even bloom the following summer. Annuals that can be sown successfully in autumn include larkspur, alyssum, candytuft, poppies, snapdragons, and sweet peas.

Ensure Success with Summer-Sown Seeds

Sowing seeds in late summer is tricker than in spring, when cooler and wetter weather is more favorable. To ensure equal success, keep the soil moist as seeds are germinating and protect young seedlings from the hot afternoon sun by growing them near taller plants or by protecting them with shade cloth.

Start Young Gardeners with Radishes

Radishes are one of the best vegetables to grow with children because they are easy to germinate and cultivate and because they mature so quickly. Only problem is, most kids don't like their sharp taste. So be sure to select 'Purple Plum', 'French Breakfast', or others with a mild, sweet flavor. My favorite is 'Easter Egg II', a rainbow mix of pretty shades that makes harvesting especially fun.

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