It is the Fourth of July weekend, one hundred degrees and rising; the last thing anyone wants to think about is planting fall vegetables! However, it is time to plan! It is important to know how long a vegetable takes from sowing the seed to maturity/harvest, so be sure to check on the seed packet! The next thing to know is the date of your average First Frost, which in the case of College Station, TX, is November 29th.
Salad Bowl Lettuce, for example, requires 50 days, so by counting back from November 29th, you would want to start the seed by October 10th. The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service recommends starting leaf lettuce from 9/15 – 11/30 (1/15 – 3/20 for spring planting).
It is easier to start the seeds in flats rather than directly in the ground because they need uniformly moist soil in which to germinate and a certain amount of shade until they become strong. Once the seedlings have developed two “true leaves” (those which resemble the leaves of the mature plant), they can be transplanted into the ground. Again, make sure they have adequate moisture and shade from the hot afternoon sun until they are established. If you want to start lettuce seeds earlier for a longer eating season, here’s a tip from a book called The Seed-Starter’s Handbook, by Nancy Bubel. “Summer heat sometimes sends lettuce seeds into dormancy. To get around this, you can try these:
- Expose the germinating seed to light
- Refrigerate the seed for several days before planting
- Use old seed, which is less likely to maintain dormancy in hot weather.”
If you would like to grow your own Brussels Sprouts from seed, they need to be started by August 31st as they require 90 days to grow to harvest. You have to taste home grown Sprouts before declaring war against them – there is no comparison to the ones found in the produce section of the grocery store! Cool weather brings out the best in crops such as cabbage, carrots, turnips, Brussels Sprouts, etc., and with a light frost they will taste even sweeter.
The next post will be about some of the club’s summer activities, so stay tuned, stay cool and hydrated, and “Happy Fourth of July”!!!