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Sow Seeds for Fall Crops

Now’s the time for Brussels’ sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage

 

The vegetable gardening season should not end with sweet corn and tomatoes. There is plenty of good gardening ahead, especially as temperatures cool. Last fall the Upakrik Farm garden produced a super abundance of peas and green beans until the first killing frost. We harvested broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips and kohlrabi well after Thanksgiving and Brussels’ sprouts well after Christmas. The collard greens and kale were at their best nearly all winter long. We harvested the sweetest carrots this side of California as long as the ground was not frozen. 
    To have an abundant supply of these vegetables, now is the time to start seeds. Sow them in small four-inch flowerpots using Metro Mix, Pro-Mix or Fafard mix. Fill pots to within a half-inch of the top inch and uniformly spread the seeds on the surface. Lightly cover them with the same potting mix, and water thoroughly until water drips from the bottom of each pot.
    Since nearly 100 percent of fresh seeds of these species will germinate, you need not use the entire packet. Save the unused seeds in that same envelope in a zip-lock bag in the fridge.
    These seed species germinate best under cool conditions and do not need light. I germinate them in the basement where it is cool.
    As soon as most of the seeds have germinated, move the pots outdoors into the full sun. There are adequate nutrients in these commercial potting mixes to feed the young seedling for three to four weeks.
    As soon as the seedlings are large enough to be lifted, remove them from the potting mix careful not to damage the roots. Water thoroughly. To minimize transplant shock, place the plants in light shade for at least one full day. Place them in full sun the second day after transplanting.
    The plants should be irrigated only when needed. Begin applying liquid fertilizer at the end of the third week of growth.
    The plants are ready to transplant into the garden when they are six to eight inches tall and the root balls hold together. Grow in the full sun to prevent their becoming leggy.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.