For your upcoming Fall Gardening, you can start seeds now here in Florida. Actually, August is a great time to get your seeds either in the ground or in your seed cells and get them sprouted to start your Fall season.
In this article I wanted to lay out seed planting tips and tricks as well as give you a list of great seeds to start out with this Fall. I’ll also have some information about succession planting – so read on to find out about what that is and why it’s really important!
Start seeds now for Fall season germination
Some seeds can take awhile to germinate, as there are many factors that contribute to the sprouting of a seed. Most people think of Fall gardening starting in September, but really, by September in Central Florida you should have a good head start on seed planting and be well on your way to transplanting your seedlings. Even the UF IFAS information lends itself to this practice – so let’s get some seeds started!
What to Plant Now for Fall
Fall is the second-most popular gardening season (with Spring being the first, of course) and we here at Shell’s highly encourage people to plant a Fall garden and continue (or start!) their #GrowYourOwn journey.
Per the above image you should starting planting Bush, Pole and Lima Beans, Okra, Onions (green/shallot), Southern Peas, and Summer and Winter Squash. You can also plant Eggplant, Endive/Escarole, Peppers and Tomatoes (as it says that you can transplant them now…which means you could have planted them even earlier than August!!!).
Want more information? Check out the UF IFAS Extension Vegetable Gardening In Florida information.
How cool is that? That’s almost a full garden right there, and it’s not even Fall yet!
Seed Planting is a forgiving sport, mostly.
Many times, when seeds escape their keepers, they “volunteer” themselves and shoot up in the most unusual places – like your compost pile, in last season’s garden bed, or in the small embankment where a mischievous squirrel buried it a few weeks ago.
They do it all on their own, as nature intended.
But you’re wanting to do it for yourself, now, to get a jump on Fall planting. So what’s some great tips for ensuring success? Well, I have a few.
Start Seeds Now Tip #1: Sow in the ground when at all possible
This won’t apply to you if you’re a container or EarthBOX gardener, of course, but for gardeners who have raised beds or who garden directly in the ground, your best bet for crops like beans, southern peas, and squash are to sow them directly in the dirt.
You can, of course, sow into seed cells. But the seeds for these hearty crops don’t really need to be babied. They are stout and read to deal with sun, rain, and even some wind, pretty well on their own. In fact, they need those things to create the sturdy stems to grow and support the weight of their fruits. A little “abuse” goes a long way for these babies. Your nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) can benefit from the same treatment.
Start Seeds Now Tip #2: You’ll want to read directions. Yes, really.
Your seed packets contain information to give you the best success for planting your seeds. The above image is an example (and every seed company does it a little different!) of what you’ll want to notate in your garden journal for reference.
Some terminology notes for you:
Days to Germination: it means Day 1 is the day you plant your seed, and the completion of these “days to germination” is when the plant has it’s first true leaf (not the cotyledon, which is the embryonic leaf).
Days to Harvest: This is the number of days from when the plant has it’s first true leaf until the day you can pick the first fruit. Many people think that this timeframe starts when you plant the seed, which is incorrect!!
Planting Depth: This is the depth at which you’ll place the seed in the soil. In general, the knuckle closest to the nail on your pinky finger is about a 1/2″, and up to the 2nd knuckle is 1″. This is approximate, of course, but a decent general guideline.
Many seed packets will give you Agricultural Zone Hardiness and guidelines for when to plant in those zones. I caution you that, for Florida, those recommendations are usually 1-2 months off, and I would refer to the UF IFAS gardening information on when to plant, or just come ask us here at Shell’s.
Start Seeds Now Tip #3: You Don’t Need To Fertilize Your Seeds. So Don’t.
One of my favorite movie quotes is from Sabrina: “More isn’t always better, Linus, sometimes it’s just more.”
Your seeds come with their own built-in power pack of nutrients created to get the seed through the initial root growth, stem sprout, embryonic leaf unfurling, and growth of the first true leaf. All by itself. That first true leaf allows the new plant to begin photosynthesizing to expand it’s roots and add more stems and leaves as it grows.
Fertilizing new seed plantings can burn the new roots and cause the seeds to die in the ground, or cause them to sprout weakly. It’s not needed. So don’t do it.
If you absolutely must, for some reason, then just use compost in the planting holes to give them a good start on establishing good soil biota and root microbiome relationships. Seeds are heartier than you think!
Start Seeds Now Tip #4: Succesion Planting Extends Your Harvest Time – and that’s a good thing!
Just a quick question for you here: Would you rather have 1 GIANT harvest of all your beans or squash all within a couple of days of each other?
If you just pictured a refrigerator full of squash and beans and they overflowed into your kitchen, on the counters, floors, shelves, and every spare nook and cranny…well that’s what happens when you plant all your crops at the same time.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier on you if you could harvest a moderate amount of crops over several weeks or even months?
Succession Planting allows you to space your plantings days/weeks apart so that you have a steady stream of plants ready for harvest over a longer period of time. This allows you to prepare fresh, cook, can, freeze, and give away (or sell!) your garden’s harvest over a longer period of time.
The best way to do this in an organized fashion is to keep a Garden Journal. A garden journal is a simple notebook that you keep your information on gardening in for each season, such as planting dates, germination habits/dates, expected harvest dates, fertilizing schedule, garden planting drawing(s), and notes on how you treated your plants and pests and how they performed overall. I go over some guidelines for Garden Journals in my article on Tips for a Great Garden Plan Part 2. Have a look in there if you’re curious. Garden Journals are a GREAT way to keep what you learned for future reference (because you think you’ll remember….but you won’t….ask me how I know).
Alright, I hope today’s blog was helpful to you. We have a great selection of seeds in-store here at Shell’s, including our bulk seeds for AWESOME savings, so stop in and check us out!
Until next time, Keep Growing!
P.S. This sign below is in my office, just behind me. When I’m on a video call others can see it too. It’s festooned with lit pumpkins right now as we look forward into Fall Gardening season. It’s a constant reminder that facing every obstacle and every challenge is a chance to learn and grow. I thought you might want to see it so that you could share my same reminder.