Starting The Fall Garden From Seed

It's time to start thinking fall garden if you haven't already!  It may seem too hot, too dry or too much like August where you are but over the next few weeks we need to get our seeds started and growing.

When to Start Seeds for a Fall Vegetable Garden?

The tricky thinking about starting a vegetable garden in the fall is getting the plants started from seed.  Anyone can buy transplants and get them growing at the right time but it takes a little extra effort to get them started from seed.  That being said I believe that this is something anyone can do too!  You need to know two dates:  your first frost date and the time to maturity.  When you get your seed packet look up the time to maturity or time to harvest on the packet.  Then add a few weeks to the time to allow yourself some harvest time.  Subtract the time from the first frost date and you will come up with the date you need to start your seeds.  If you're off by a week or two don't worry about it.  Usually the first frost doesn't slow down fall plants like spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, bak choi, and many others very much.  These vegetables tend to be fairly frost tolerant and will continue growing through several frosts.  Once your vegetables go dormant they can make it through our mild winters easily then begin actively growing again in the spring!

How to Start Seeds for a Fall Vegetable Garden

One challenge to starting fall vegetables is to simply getting the seeds started.  Most fall vegetables enjoy temperatures in the 60's and 70's for ideal germination which is very tricky if you live in Tennessee during August! You have a couple options though to get your seeds going.  First consider starting them indoors then hardening them off as they grow their first sets of true leaves.  A second method is to shade the seeds on a covered porch or outdoors with some shade cloth.  The important thing is to keep the soil cool and moist.  If you can keep the soil cool and moist then you should have no problem growing your fall vegetables from seed!

A Seed Starting Tip:
Sow your seeds appropriately!  Very small seeds need light to germinate so do not cover them with soil.  Just sprinkle them over the soil surface and keep the soil moist.  If you follow the directions on the package you should be just fine! Follow this link if you would like to take a peek at a simple layout for a fall vegetable garden.

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