It’s easier than you think to have a fall garden
Fall is one of the best times of the year to squeeze in another harvest. Here in the south, it’s really the best time to plant cool weather crops. It just gets too hot by April to have a decent lettuce harvest.
Since we moved just a few months ago, my new fall garden (can you believe I’m starting another garden!) is going to be a mix and match plan.
- // I have 5 straw bales conditioning right now. The internal temperature is just over 100° and they should be ready to plant this weekend.
- // I have moved my gutter garden and will put in some lettuce and other greens.
- // The herbs are in pots for now until I can finish the grand plan for our new homestead. I will continue to refine it this winter.
For now, it’s all about seed starting.
I like to use as many recycled containers as I can. That might include:
- // Toilet paper pots
- // Yogurt containers
- // Milk jug greenhouses or
- // Seed starting trays (because I’ve invested in them in the past and they work well)
This season, since I’ve had such lead time while waiting for the bales, I’m also planting in some bigger 5×3.5 inch pots that I received from Panda Pots. (Amazon) This allows me to let the roots grow bigger while I’m waiting.
Here’s my process for using those bigger pots to start seeds:
- Make sure your pots are clean. If you are reusing pots, give them a wash in soapy water and then rinse in a weak bleach solution.
- Fill the bottom of the pot with 2 inches of regular potting soil or compost. This will give the roots something to grab on and will provide fertilizer once they reach this level of the pot. This potting soil is typically less expensive than seed starting mix, so I’m also saving money.
- Fill the top 1 inch of the pot with extra fine seed starting potting mix. This gives the seeds an “easy” time of sprouting through the soil.
- Plant the seeds to the appropriate depth according to package directions. If you are planning on transplanting to the garden, a 5-inch pot will typically grow 5 or 6 seeds per pot. If you are using the pots for microgreens you can plant them much, much closer.
- Water well being careful not to disturb the seed placement.
- Cover the pots with a plastic bag or place them in a clear plastic tub with a lid. Your goal here is to create a “greenhouse effect” for the seedlings to grow. This will keep moisture in and you will have to do much less watering!
- Place them in a sunny window. I actually have mine on top of an 18-gallon tote that I’ve placed in front of one side of the French doors. This area gets morning sun and afternoon shade, which is important for hot days like mine. (It was 90° yesterday) That’s another benefit of starting seeds in the fall – there is much more light and heat available than on cool spring days, that means no grow lights in the fall.
- Make note of the average days to germination and monitor the seedling trays for water.
- Once most of the seeds have germinated remove the plastic covering and grow as any planting.
- If you are planting in a cool climate you should harden off the seedlings before you plant them into the garden.
There will not be a need to transplant these seedlings. You can keep them in the larger pots until it’s time to put them in the garden.
The benefit of using larger pots is threefold –
- // The seedlings can get bigger because the roots will not be disturbed.
- // There is less cost and waste of potting soil.
- // These pots are sturdy and can be used year after year. The small seedling trays will eventually break down.
I have been quite impressed with these 5×3.5 inch pots. They are sturdy and are holding up well for my fall seed starting project.
What have I planted? Tomato – Early Girl, Genovese Basil, Zucchini, Sugar Snap Peas, and a bunch of different varieties of lettuce and greens. Isn’t it funny that I’m planting tomatoes in September? I still have 75 days before the first frost will hit my zone 8b garden and those Early Girls mature in 55 days!
I hope you’ll join me this fall as I plant and experiment with my new straw bale garden and raise these seedlings I have growing. I received a free pack of 30 100% Recycled Plastic Pots by Panda Pots to use for my seed starting adventures. Thanks, `PandaPots, they’re working great! #plantpots
MADE IN THE USA! Normally for garden centers and nurseries, these are the best quality pots on Amazon. The thick, recycled, high-grade, polypropylene plastic is designed to eliminate brittleness and enhance flexibility.These pots are durable and reusable, year after year. Just the right amount of drainage holes at the bottom to let the water out, but keep your plants moist.
LARGE SIZED SEPARATE POTS: Each individual pot has a 5″ diameter, and is 3.75″ deep.
100% RECYCLED PLASTIC! Combine this with their long life, no other pots are this environmentally friendly. Gardening can often impact the environment due to a large amount of waste. Feel safe that in this instance, you are doing your part.