bags of seed starter, compostable cow pots and seed packets on a gray bench in front of a brown wall

Seed Starting for Fall Veggies!

“Fall”ing for seeds!

Did you know that now is the perfect time to start certain seeds for Fall crops in your garden?  What have you been harvesting?  Radishes? Carrots? Lettuce? Broccoli? Zucchini? 

What will you be harvesting soon?  Tomatoes? Green beans? Do you or will you have spaces opening up in your garden in the near future?  You can plant behind your current vegetables as you harvest them with Fall veggies!

carrots, leaf lettuce and tomato in gray enamel bowl

“The truth is that now is the perfect time to replant! Especially if you want to be able to eat seasonal food till the end of the season. What better way to make the most of your outdoor area than to maximize it from the ground up?” according to gardenerknowhow.com

Here in Ohio, we usually have until at least the middle of October before the cool fingers of frost grasp our garden plants.  So, we can plant mid-summer to keep the harvest going!  And did you know that some vegetables actually taste better after they have been through a frost or two?

Let your veggies go through a frost

According to ruralsprout.com, the following 10 vegetables taste better after a light frost.

  1. Parsnips:  Parsnips are a vegetable traditionally served at Christmas and over the festive season. And there is a good reason for that.  These root vegetables really are at their best in mid-winter, after they have experienced a few frosts.  Parsnips after frost exposure really do taste a lot sweeter. Their sweet taste will be brought to the fore when they are drizzled with olive oil and honey and roasted in your oven.
  2. Carrots:  Carrots are another root crop that tastes sweeter after frost exposure. These are another common Christmas dinner feature, and they pair extremely well with parsnips.  Carrots too can be showcased at their very best by drizzling them with olive oil and honey and roasting them. Their sweetened taste also makes them great for a range of other recipes – including carrot cake, for example.  Increased plant sugars mean that lower amounts of other sugars or sweeteners will be required.
  3. Beets:  Beets are one of those vegetables that really divide opinion.  Some people love them, others cannot stand their earthy flavors. But if you are on the latter side of this divide, you may be a convert if you taste beets that have been sweetened by frosts.  As with parsnips and carrots, roasting your beets is the best way to showcase their sweeter flavor.  You could also make a cake with beets too beet brownies, for example, are one popular option.
  4. Celeriac:  Celeriac is not exactly a looker of the vegetable world. But it can taste great – especially after some more of the starch has converted to sugars.  The increased sweetness after frost complements the nutty and celery-like flavor. And can make it even more tasty in a classic remoulade or in soups, stews or other recipes.
  5. Brussels Sprouts:  Brussels sprouts are another of those Christmas-time vegetables that people either love or loathe.  Again, if you are not a fan, it might be worth trying them later in the season, after they have experienced a good few frosts.  You can just steam or boil them, but the sweetness is brought to the fore if you roast them, to caramelize the sugars.  Brussels sprouts cooked in this way might just convert even the most staunch of sprout haters.
  6. Kale:  Kale is another member of the Brassica family, all of which taste better after frost.  This is a particularly hardy plant that can survive in the ground all winter in many areas, and almost anywhere with a little protection.  The leaves will taste better, sweeter and more flavorful, after some frosts, so leave kale in the ground over the coldest months and just harvest leaves as and when they are required.
  7. Cabbage:  Winter cabbages and other leafy greens in the brassica family will also share the same characteristics.  Many varieties can be surprisingly hardy during cold weather. Headed cabbages, even when a few outer leaves suffer due to exposure to the elements, can still be in great form in the depths of winter and will, in many cases, taste even better than summer crops.
  8. Turnips and Rutabagas:  Some people are unaware that turnips and rutabagas (swedes/ neeps) are also members of the brassica family. Their tough and hardy roots can also become sweeter if left in the ground to experience a few frosts.  Another thing to bear in mind is that you can also eat the greens of these plants. These can be a valuable additional yield, and also taste sweeter in winter.
  9. Swiss Chard:  Swiss chard is another leafy green that can develop a sweeter and somewhat more pleasing flavor after some light frosts.  This is another pretty hardy plant that can survive temperatures down to around -9 C.  Sauté tougher leaves and stems or steam them to bring out their flavor and enjoy this crop at its best.
  10. Leeks:  Finally, leeks – another staple of the winter garden.  Leeks can be left in the ground to be improved by frost all winter long. As long as the ground does not freeze hard, you can simply pull them up as and when you need them over the coldest months.

Why is a frost beneficial?

Now why would veggies taste better after a frost or two?  Ruralsprout.com explains: 

As you may already be aware, plants take in carbon dioxide and water and use sunlight to convert these into starch – the form in which a plant stores its energy.

Enzymes then convert this starch within the plants to sugar, as part of the process of protecting themselves against the cold during the winter.

A frost triggers certain hardy plants to begin producing more sugar.

The higher levels of sugar protect the plants. They can ‘stay warm’ by metabolizing these plant sugars. The increased sugars also decrease ice formation in plant cells and can protect the cell membrane from freezing.

But in addition to being beneficial for the plants, the increased sugars also have another consequence – they can make the plants taste better to us!

Successive Planting

Are your lettuce plants and leafy greens bolting or turning bitter by now?  You can plant those successively too.  If you keep planting every couple of weeks, you should have fresh salad greens until that first frost!

Indoor Seed Starting

So now would be a great time to start some seeds indoors.  It might be a little too hot or dry or wet out in the garden to direct seed these crops.   But seed starting might make it easier. 

Cow Pots

Heaven’s Dew has Cow Pots which are perfect for starting seeds and then transplanting them directly into the garden without removing them from the Cow Pot.  This is so beneficial to the newly established root system of your young plants.  Plus, the Cow Pots naturally fertilize your plants as they break down.  As you may have guessed, Cow Pots are made of manure! 

stack of compostable cow pots on a gray bench                                   stack of single compostable cow pots on a gray benchAccording to cowpots.com, they break down in one growing season.  “The nitrogen that is naturally in manure serves 2 purposes: 

  1. It kickstarts the composting process allowing CowPots to break down once planted. 
  2. Nitrogen also attracts microorganisms in the soil to assist in the decomposition process.”  Additional benefits to using Cow Pots are that they are made in the USA, they are biodegradable so they keep materials out of the landfill, and they work to keep your soil healthy!

Dairy Doo Seed Starter

And to fill those CowPots we have Organic Seed Starter from Morgan Composting.

“Plants are only as healthy as the soil you grow them in, so start your flowers or veggies out right! Seed Starter 101 is soft enough for delicate seeds and capable of holding moisture for an extended period.  It is mineral-rich and has mycorrhizal fungi added to aid in germination. All of this together grows hardier and healthier plants faster. While many mixes are filler-loaded with high amounts of perlite and peat, we focus on nutrients by including 14 specially selected organic ingredients. This means you only need to add water when working with Seed Starter 101, other add-ins are not necessary. Ingredients include our own organic worm castings called WormDoo, carbonatite, and, of course, DAIRY DOO- a high-quality, organic compost that makes this soil come alive with biology!

Use With: Any seeds

Application: This potting soil is safe for direct planting – fill your seed tray and plant!  Plants will not need to be fertilized for up to 4 weeks.” (dairydoo.com)

2 bags of seed starter mix sitting on a bench

Livingston Seeds

Heaven’s Dew also has organic seed packets from Livingston Seeds. Wouldn’t a seed starter kit make a really nice gift for someone who loves gardening?  You could fill a box with a bag of seed starter, Cow Pots, and various seed packets.  Then you could gift your time to help them plant their seeds.  This would be an incredible activity for children and grandparents to do together.  You could also add some blank popsicle sticks that you could use as plant markers!  SO MUCH FUN!

bags of seed starter, compostable cow pots and seed packets on a gray bench in front of a brown wall

Wondercide Yard/Garden Spray

Oh, and one more thing – ticks and mosquitos can spoil a fun day in the garden instantly.  Want a natural alternative for getting rid of them?  We now offer Wondercide Flea and Tick Yard and Garden spray!  This natural liquid uses essential oils to kill fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.  It is safe for bees and butterflies and you can spray it directly on your yard.  Better yet, there is no wait time!  Wondercide says it is “Proven to work and easy to use. This ready-to-use pest protection kills and repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and hundreds more bugs. Safe for beneficial bugs like bees & butterflies.” It’s safe to use around pets and people of all ages!

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So, what do you want to plant this summer?  Come on in and let us help you find what you need to keep your garden strong and healthy all the way through the middle of October!

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