Fall Gardening Already?

If you live in Northwest Florida, like I do, then it’s time to start thinking about planting your fall garden. Yep, I said FALL garden! I know what you are thinking. It’s 90 degrees outside as I write this post so it’s difficult to imagine but Fall will be here before we know it. Actually I am a little late in getting some of my planting done. It’s not too late for another crop of tomatoes (if you have transplants), sweet corn, snap beans, summer squash, winter squash and watermelon! For more information on what to plant and when, check out the North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide from the Front Yard Farmer’s blog (he lives in Niceville, FL). He has a lot of great tips on how to grow vegetables in our local area however he does not use organic techniques. For those of you reading this who do not live in Northwest Florida, I suggest checking with your local extension office for Fall gardening information or ask a local farmer at a Farmer’s Market or your local Feed & Seed store is likely to have the seeds they sell to local farmers available.  I went to Okaloosa Grain and Feed here in Crestview and spoke with the man behind the counter and he told me that all his seeds are what the local farmers buy so that is where I purchased some of my seeds from. Other seed suppliers I like are Peaceful Valley, Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Seeds, Burpee and Gurney’s. To find out the best dates to plant your crops check out this guide from The Farmer’s Almanac.

My planting days are going to be Labor Day weekend, only because I won’t have time to do it any sooner. I have had the chickens and goats in my square foot garden area scratching up the soil and eating all the weeds so all I will need to do is go in and amend the soil with some cotton seed meal (a tip I picked up from a local organic farmer) then direct sow seeds that have been soaked overnight. Other plants are transplants and will need to be bigger and hardened off before they are planted outside. Some plants I will grow in containers so I will need to buy some organic soil to fill  my pots as I am all out of compost :-(.

Here’s a quick  list of what I plan on planting this fall…

Arugula – container plant (I use a big bowl planter and call it my salad bowl)

Beets – seeds soaked overnight and direct sow in rows alternating every 2 weeks (harvested for greens)

Broccoli – from transplants

Cabbage – from transplants

Carrots – direct sow in rows alternating every 2 weeks

Cauliflower – from transplants

Collards & Kale – some from seed, some from transplants in rows alternating every 2 weeks

Lettuce – Romaine from transplants and Mesclun from seed (same as arugula)

Parsley – from transplants, will plant with lettuce or in containers

Mustard Greens – from transplants

Bulb Onions – green onions will be harvested in the fall, mature bulbs should be ready by spring

Sugar Snap Peas – direct sow (I may wait until October since it’s still so hot)

Swiss Chard – seeds soaked overnight then direct sow in rows alternating every 2 weeks

Turnips – seeds soaked overnight then direct sow in rows alternating every 2 weeks (harvested for greens)

In October I should be able to get out and plant some radish and spinach. I have never had any luck with spinach and I eat it so much that I wish I could grow some myself and save money! Strawberries are supposed to go in around October also. According to local extension office and the man at the local feed store, I still have time to plant another crop of tomatoes, sweet corn, pole beans, summer squash and winter squash. So, I am going to run to the nursery Saturday morning and pick up a few tomato plants (since I know for sure it’s too late to start them from seed) and zucchini plants then sow some corn, bean and pumpkin seeds just to see what happens. My tomatoes did very well this year and my peppers are just starting to come in (I got a late start on those) but my zucchini bombed thanks to some nasty vine borers and again the squirrels and birds got to my corn! Grrrrr

At the end of November I will be looking into planting some bulbs and maybe some garlic plus adding more fruit trees to my property. Then it will be winter and I can start thinking about potatoes and starting seeds for my spring garden. If all of this sounds too exhausting to you then check out a local farmer’s market for fresh produce. I particularly like Cambridge Farms in Milton, FL. Thomas Earnshaw is a great guy and grows his produce using organic methods.

Wish me luck! I will post updates and photos on how my garden is doing as I go.

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