Seed starting for fall crops
Lots of plants can be started from seed in mid-summer that will be ready to harvest beginning in late September. These include traditional vegetables like broccoli, cilantro, collard greens, kale, lettuce, radishes, scallions and spinach. You can also try these more unusual plants popular with SCLT growers:
- Celosia Amaranth (a cooking green used in African and Asian cuisines)
- Claytonia Perfoliata (a salad green, also known as Miner’s Lettuce)
- Mizuna (a mustard green)
- Tatsoi (a Chinese cabbage, good for cooking or salads)
- Watermelon radish (a Daikon radish, pink on the inside and green on the outside)
- Bok Choy (a mild Chinese cabbage, good for cooking)
- Red Russian Kale or White Russian Kale (both are good for cooking)
- Red Sails lettuce (a mild salad green, bright red in color)
- Molokhia (aka Egyptian Spinach, is a cooking green popular in Middle Eastern and African cuisines)
Start some seeds indoors, but plants with edible roots, like radishes, should always be direct seeded, as it’s easy to damage roots when transplanting. Read the directions on your seed packets for best results, and keep them for reference.
Here are two places where City Farm staff buy high-quality seeds:
Lots of public libraries in Rhode Island also have seed banks or seed exchanges of heirloom and organic varieties that library members can “borrow” for free. The hope is that you’ll save seeds from your plants and bring them in for other gardeners next year.
For fall and winter vegetables you may want to use agricultural fabric (Reemay), cold frames or low tunnels to keep your crops warm and keep bugs out. Start using these when it becomes consistently cold or below freezing at night. (Doing this too early can kill your plants if they get too hot.)
You can buy many of these supplies locally (and much more) at cluck! farm and garden supply. Here’s another great online resource for organic gardeners: