It’s now nearly the end of July which means I have to start preparing my garden for the fast approaching cool season.
The transition from warm season to cool season is always a tricky one. While it is still very hot this time of year in Delaware, I can’t delay starting my garden too long, because I have to allot enough time to allow the plants I intend to grow to reach harvest. This means that I have to start at least the majority of my seeds by the beginning of August.
Timed correctly, cool season crops planted between mid-July and early August can thrive and produce well. It’s all a matter of preparation and knowing just the right moment to either direct sow seeds or transplant plants started indoors.
My plan for my cool season garden includes some of my favorite vegetables. I’m going to be planting Chinese cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and beets. I’ll also be planting some herbs to round out my garden. In total I’m going to be planting eleven different varieties of plants. This includes two different cabbages, two different lettuces, and two different carrots.
With the exception of my root crops and my lettuces, I plan to start everything indoors. This is to avoid the extreme heat that is still very present in Delaware. Root crops often struggle when started indoors, so it’s best to direct sow them. However, they can become stressed by intense heat, so it’s important to keep them well watered (always use cold water) and if it’s a particularly hot day cover with a white dish towel or washcloth.
Another factor that is pushing me to start the majority of my cool season crops indoors is the fact that I still have a lot growing in my garden. If you’ve seen my Instagram or have seen some of my other blog posts, you would know that a large part of my garden is winter squashes and pumpkins. These require a longer period of growth which can push into the cool season. As those plants begin to wane, however, I will have some room to plant seeds and small transplants which will grow as I begin taking the squash and pumpkin vines out.
Lettuce is a very tricky crop to start for the cool season. If planted too early it won’t germinate, because of the heat. I will be direct sowing my lettuce last in the beginning of August. Hopefully by that point the extreme heat will have started to pass and my lettuce can germinate with a higher level of success. Such is the same with plants like swiss chard. With care though, they can germinate when planted at the beginning of August.
I’m also starting herbs for the cool season. So far I’ve only started parsley and cilantro (or coriander), however I may plant basil too if it seems like I have room in my raised herb bed. (I also have to have time to take care of even more plants!) I really like growing herbs in the cool season, because it supplies me with fresh herb for all of the fall cooking I do. My plan is to post pasta recipes in September so the parsley will go to good use in my parsley and brown butter raviolis. I’m excited for my cool season cilantro, because the seeds I’m using are saved from my warm season cilantro!
The transition from warm to cool season can be tough. Your warm season garden is waning and so it often doesn’t look very nice. The heat can interfere with your plans to plant crops like greens. However, with careful planning and attention to the weather patterns, you can be successful! I can’t wait to see what this cool season brings.
Thank you for taking the time to give my blog a read. Whether you stay for a day, a month, or a year, I appreciate you. -Kate