Let’s Get Dirty… 5 Tips for Gardening in September
With the dog days of summer ending and your gardens harvested, you might be asking yourself, now what?
Step One – plan ahead
Check out this handy planting dates calculator from the Old Farmers Almanac. Get the dates in your calendar for next year and decide if you will be growing the same or different veggies.
And if you are planting your winter garden (yes, that’s a thing) then you need to get ready now. Here is a great list of what vegetables you can grow now.
You should probably know a ballpark date for the first frost date in your region of Colorado. Do some research. We all know that our weather in Colorado can change very quickly. The dates may vary but the first frost date is typically the first week of October.
If you’re not one of the gardeners willing to take the chance on tilling the soil in the garden this time of year or you’re just too busy to meet the planting deadlines, with the freezing nights fast approaching, you can still scratch your gardening itch, by getting a head start on your seed- starting operation.
Step Two – seedlings
Not to worry, starting seeds is not rocket science. 10,000 years ago, no one knew how to grow food from seed either but they caught on fast and so can you. Seeding and planning go hand in hand, so have your plan ready before you head out to buy seeds.
First decide what you have space for. If you only have 10 x 10 garden, it doesn’t make sense to buy 50 different varieties of vegetables. Always have a garden site in full sun. No shade please.
So now pick the seeds you want to grow and separate them by growing season. Warm season crops will be harvested in mid to late summer. These consist of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Cool crops include leafy veggies, peas, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, beets and carrots, as stated in the previous paragraphs.
Here it gets a little more complicated, some seeds can be started inside and others should be put directly in the ground. Read your seed packets that will tell you which is which, the packets also contain a wealth of information.
Step Three – stuff you need
You may decide to purchase traditional long planting trays with domes that you can buy at any Home Depot. These trays prevent the water that drains from the pots from dripping and the dome create a greenhouse effect. You should get a germination mat. It’s like a soil heating pad you place under the tray to keep the seedlings warm. You can also place your seedlings on top of the fridge or next to a furnace. Seedlings are just like newborns they like it warm. Some like it tropical.
Soil medium is the best soil for your seed babies, it’s made with special ingredients that allow the seedlings to sprout and form roots easily.
Step Five – now for the planting
Place soil in pots, moisten, use a chop stick or skewer to make a small hole, drop two seed in, cover lightly then use a spray bottle to mist the seeds and keep them moist. Check the babies daily. If both seeds germinate, snip the smaller one back, survival of the fittest. Always label your pots. When the survivor has true leaves, he should be watered regularly and given half strength fertilizer weekly. When his root mass has grown he needs to be transplanted to a larger pot with regular potting soil.
A few more tips to make your seedlings happy. Water with room temperature water. When it’s time to transplant grab the seedling by the leaf never the stem. You can expose them gradually to the outdoors increasing their time outside daily. Make sure they are well watered and keep an eye on the weather.
This whole process may seem like a lot of trouble when you can just go to the gardening department in the spring and buy plants already started.
So, why do it?
It’s fun, you can get your garden fix year-round and it’s a great family project, get the whole family involved. They’ll love it.
Happy Fall Gardening!
Tricia Houston, Owner
Lending Maven Mortgage
Colorado native and Stapleton resident
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