Do you have an itch to grow something one more time before the cold of winter sets in? Let’s talk about things you can plant that have a short growing season.
As temperatures begin to cool, your growing options change. Mother Nature is telling you that it is time to grow cool weather crops. What are some things that you can grow in cooler weather?
The most easiest and quickest options are lettuce and radishes. There are varieties of each that can be planted by seed and harvested in under 50 days. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension for the date of the first frost. (This is the last day you can grow without providing protection.)
If you’re not sure what to plant, I’ve provided a couple ideas below and a couple vendors that I personally enjoy using.
Little Gem Lettuce – This smaller lettuce is great for your Mr. Stacky. It’s been pretty low maintenance for me. I’ve used seed from Sustainable Seed Company and was pleased. Organic and conventional options are available. I believe the pictures of lettuce in this blog are from spring, but fall planting is great as well.
Radishes – Okay, I have to admit that I really don’t pay attention to the variety of radishes I plant. They are easy to scatter on the ground and quick to harvest. Pick something that visually interests you or has a story to tell. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a solid choice as a place to purchase heirlooms and things of intrigue.
Why garden with a Mr. Stacky? We could share with you a bunch of fancy marketing taglines to entice you to buy our product, but we’d rather just write from the heart and share four reasons why gardening rocks.
#1 Gardening gives you fresh food. If you’re hungry for a salad and you’re growing lettuce, there isn’t any need to go to the store. Just tiptoe over to your planter and snip.
#2 Growing your own food and eating at home is great for the planet. Had you decided to go out to eat or make a run to the store, you’d more than likely be driving a car. Staying put and not burning up fuel is better for the environment. (Plus, you can eat dinner in your pajamas, which is more fun.)
#3 Playing in the dirt is fun and can relieve stress. Make some mud pies and act like a kid. (Just don’t eat the mud pies, please.)
#4 Gardeners are cool people. You have to love folks that can talk passionately about radish varieties.
If you want to be part of our cool group, come hang with us on our Facebook page.
Lettuce is one of the easiest seeds to start. All you need is sun, warmth, a growing medium and humid conditions. Unlike many other vegetable seeds, lettuce tends to benefit from having light while it sprouts. Thus, you don’t need to worry about how deep the seeds need to be planted. This makes planting lettuce seeds great for beginners, as you’re just basically placing seeds on top of soil and brushing it around a bit before watering.
If you really want to be sure your lettuce seeds are happy enough to sprout, you need to add humidity. How do you do this? Once you have planted your seeds and watered them, cover the container with clear plastic. The clear plastic will keep the humidity high, while allowing sunlight inside. A thin plastic drop cloth from the hardware store works great. Just be sure to weigh down the ends at the bottom with a rock to keep the drop cloth from flying away in the wind.
Please keep in mind that lettuce is a cool weather crop. If your temperatures are extremely high, you may cook your seeds under the plastic.
How do you know when is the best time to plant lettuce seeds? Your local extension office should be able to provide you a list of the best planting times for various vegetables. If you’d like help locating your local extension office, you can click this link at NPIC.
The video below from our Facebook page shows a quick way to plant lettuce seeds. If you’d like to chat with our gardener, please visit us on Facebook.