Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fall Planting 2010

I hemmed and hawed about what vegetables to plant for my fall crops.  I ended up deciding against most common brassicas like head cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, because I was worried that they might take up too much room in my square foot gardening boxes.  Maybe I'll try them next year, when we expand our garden with more raised beds in the ground.

Below is a list of fall vegetable seeds sown so far in our garden and their planting dates.  I'm trying out successive planting with some of them.  I would have sown them earlier, but it's just been so hot all of July and August, and I didn't think that these seeds would germinate all that well when day time highs have been consistently in the low to mid 90s.  Our Indianapolis garden is in USDA zone 5b with the average first frost date of around October 20.  I'm curious to see if this year's first frost would be later than this average date, considering how hot it's been so far.
  • Crimson Giant Radish – 7/31/10 (probably sowed too early, as they are not growing very well)
  • Ruby Queen Beets – 7/31/10 (same as radish, not growing well past initial germination)
  • Sugar snap peas (aka butt peas) – 8/1/10
  • Carrots (I still have dreams of growing girthy carrots in Indiana) – 8/8/10
  • China Choi (seeds shared by Ottawa Gardener) – 8/16/10, 8/28/10
  • Pak Choi Cabbage – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Tatsoi Cabbage (rosette bok choy) – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Ruby Red Chard – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Fordhook Giant Chard – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Red Russian Kale – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Little Gem Lettuce – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Ruby Lettuce – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Red Romaine Lettuce – 8/22/10, 8/28/10
  • Daikon Radish – 8/22/10
All of these, except for sugar snap peas and carrots, are new vegetables in the garden for me, so I'm really looking forward to watching the plants grow and hopefully eating them.  I know you’re supposed to grow vegetables that you like to eat, but I confess that neither Keith nor I have much prior experience eating a lot of these new vegetables.  Well, Keith already knows that he doesn’t really like radishes and hates beets, and I’m somewhat neutral to both of them, but I’m growing them anyway.

If any of these fall vegetables grow well for us, then I’m going to have to find new recipes to work them into meals.  I figure lettuce is lettuce regardless of the variety, and I can use them in salads.  But what to do with all these new hardy greens like chard, kale, and various chinese cabbages?  This fall is going to be an interesting time for us both in the garden and in the kitchen!

Below are some pictures of germinated seedlings.  I noticed that all of the seeds sprouted more than one seedling.  With very small seeds like Pak Choi, it's possible that I sowed more than one seed in the middle of the square, but with bigger seeds like chards, I know I only sowed one seed in each spot.  Are some of these seeds supposed to germinate more than one seedling from a single seed?  Should I thin these out so there's only one seeding growing in each spot, or should I just  leave them alone?  Can I try to separate out the seedlings and transplant them farther apart without damaging the roots?  Hmm, questions and more questions...

Fordhook Giant Chard

Ruby Red Chard

Red Russian Kale

Pak Choi Cabbage

This post is linked to Tuesday Garden Party.


~Holly~ said...

Cute! I love your "baby" pictures! Looks like you've got quite a variety going!

I can't remember if the chard seeds look like beet seeds (since they're similar) but the beet seeds have clusters and germinate more than 1 plant. I would allow them to get a little bigger (a few inches), then thin all but the strongest looking of the bunch. I usually trim with scissors to not disrupt the other root systems.

Annie's Granny said...

What Holly said. Yes, my chard sprouted three plants per seed. I think, if you are very very careful, you can pull out some of the extras and transplant them. I do that with beets, and most of them wilt down, then perk back up and grow.

Anonymous said...

All these vegetables like cooler temperatures, so you shouldn't have any problem growing them now.
Chard does germinate more seedlings from one seed. I usually don't thin them, but leave them as they are.

Before I started growing kale and chard and some other greens, I knew one or two recipes for each of them. Now I don't need a recipe, I just make up recipes as I cook.

Prairie Cat said...

I'm trying out some chard and kale for the fall as well. I've already started looking for recipes to use them in even though they are only an inch tall so far. :P

It looks like you have had better germination than I did! Your post reminds me that I have to go out and reseed the bare areas.

Engineeredgarden said...

Has Keith ever tried pickled beets? They're pretty good....I'm undecided on cole crops for the fall, but should get a few things started sometime this week.

GrafixMuse said...

Looks like you are off to a great beginning for fall crops. I too am trying some different things that I am not used to growing. I am more tempted to eat something that I have put effort into growing. Most often these can be added to soups or stirfrys if I can't figure out another way of preparing them.

Anonymous said...

Okay now I am really motivated!

Stefaneener said...

Ohh, do I have some great recipes for kale and tat soi. . .

thyme2garden said...

Holly and Granny - thanks for solving the mystery of multiple seedlings for chards and beets! I might try all possible methods (thinning out, carefully transplanting and just leaving them all alone to grow together) and see if it makes any difference to the plants.

* * * * *
vrtlarica - I hope you're right about cooler temps, but it's been breaking above 90 F every day this week in Indianapolis. I just checked the weather forecast again, and it looks like we may finally cool down a bit this weekend. Hopefully that means my fall crops can finally relax and start growing! I like your style of making up recipes as you cook, that's usually what I do, too.

* * * * *
Prairie Cat - Let me know if you find any good recipes! While I do like to improvise, it's always good to know how "proven" recipes work. Most of my seeds had really good germination rates. Since it's my first time growing these plants, I don't know how big they get, aside from the spacing guide on the seed envelopes. If I follow the guidelines, I need one or fewer plant per square foot area, but the seedlings look so little and lonely in the middle of each of the big squares right now!

* * * * *
Engineeeredgarden - I believe pickled beets is how Keith's dislike of beets started! I'm hoping to change his mind with good homegrown beets that I will find a way to cook. I'll probably start out with roasting them. Or maybe I'll grate them into tiny pieces and find a way to "hide" them into other foods. :-) Good luck with your fall planting this week, if you get around to it!

* * * * *
GrafixMuse - I totally agree with you, that I'm more motivated to eat foods that I grew myself! What are some of your new vegetables this fall/year?

* * * * *
Allysgrandma - I'm so glad to provide the motivation!

* * * * *
Stefaneener - I hope you'll share the recipes!

* * * * *

Annie's Granny said...

Do try roasted beets! I just peeled and quartered my small raw beets, put them in a casserole dish and tossed them with some olive oil, salt & pepper, put the lid on and put them in a 425F oven until they were fork tender. I stirred them up a bit once or twice. I think it took them about 20-30 minutes, and they were sweet and delicious.

thyme2garden said...

Granny, I will definitely try roasted beets, if I can ever get my beets to grow. I sowed the seeds for beets and radishes over a month ago, and although they all germinated, it's like they have frozen in time and haven't grown more than half an inch. I'm thinking it's just been too hot. I don't know if they will grow any more once the weather cools down, or if I need to start over with new seeds. I'll probably do latter, just to be safe.

Dirt Lover said...

My favorite way to use chard is with pasta. Have it washed, stemmed, and chopped, then toss it in the pasta water the last 4 minutes that the pasta is cooking. Drain it along with the pasta, and then put cheese (Feta is my favorite) and whatever else you want in it. It's really good. You can also chop the stems and cook them along with onion and garlic, sort of like celery, with meat or pasta dishes. Oh, my, I could go on and on. I love the stuff.

thyme2garden said...

Dirt Lover - thanks for sharing those recipes! They sound easy and very intuitive - my favorite kind of recipes! Now I can't wait for these chards to grow so I can cook and eat them! Are you growing some this fall?

Annie's Granny said...

The beets can take forever, then they seem to grow over night. I almost gave up on mine this year, but let them be, and sure enough, they finally took off and grew!

mamaraby said...

With the green (like chard) you can always blanch and freeze for the deeper winter. We especially like them sauteed with some caramelized onions. Yum!

thyme2garden said...

Granny - I hope you're right about the beets. After my near-failure with carrots this year, I'm not feeling very confident about my ability to grow root vegetables. I find it a bit frustrating that you can't "see" how well (or not) the roots are growing. Someone should invent a hand-held x-ray machine for impatient gardeners like me! Kind of like those oven lights, you know?

* * * * *
mamaraby - another good idea. Thanks for the suggestion!

meemsnyc said...

ooh, I recognize those seed packets. Aren't Sustainable Seed Company just the best? It's been hot here this week, we were up to 98 today. I saw my seedlings start to wilt. :(

Regarding our garden bench, the hubs secured the bbq grate with a wooden frame beneath it. I'll also put a bucket below the grate to catch the soil that falls through.

Shawn Ann said...

You might not like some of those things, but you'll be more likely to eat them when you grow them yourself. And, they always taste better from your own garden! Good recipes help too!

thyme2garden said...

meemsnyc - it was my first time ordering seeds online, so I'm afraid I don't have anything to compare to, but I was very satisfied with their service.

* * * * *
Shawn Ann - I think you're totally right about being more likely to eat vegetables that you grew yourself. I'm really looking forward to it!

Jami @An Oregon Cottage said...

Glad to see you're tackling a fall/winter garden! None of my beet or spinach seeds made it through the heat of August, so I'm sowing the spinach again (too late for the beets...).

Chard and beets are from the same family and each "seed" is actually a few seeds together, hence more than one comes up- which is why you really don't want to plant them willy-nilly- ack! the thinnning!

Hopefully, all these great recipes for using fall veggies will make it to the Tuesday Garden Party! I'd love to see more of the ways people are using seasonal vegetables. :-)

thyme2garden said...

Jami - do you think it's really too late for the beets? I thought they could survive light frost in the 20s. I guess I'll find out for myself this fall/winter. I'm really looking forward to growing and cooking with seasonal vegetables.

Melissa said...

Don't you just love seed packets? All that planning and anticipation! I love your seedling pictures. I'll be growing some of those same plants in my winter garden.

thyme2garden said...

Melissa - I do love seed packets! It's starting to be a bit of a problem keeping track of them all. I have so many more seeds than I can possibly plant in my garden, yet I keep wanting more and more. :) I hope your winter garden does well for you! My fall garden is currently battling all kinds of pests.


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