July 28, 2011

Tip of the day—Start planning your fall garden

In East TN we are blessed with a long growing season.  We’re able to grow crops like lettuces, turnip greens, spinach, and carrots in both the spring and fall, and now is the time to start thinking about your autumn plantings. 

  1. Take stock of what seeds you have to use for the fall.  Did you order enough lettuces?  Did you remember to pick up a pack of kale?
  2. Talk with friends to get some ideas of new varieties to try.  For instance, if you’ve never tried kale as a fall crop, I highly recommend it.  It is so much sweeter when touched by a bit of frost. 
  3. Order or purchase what you need while seeds are still available in the stores.  Near the end of the year, many local retailers start selling out of their seeds.  Shop now so that you make sure you have everything you want to plant.  I usually try to order seeds only one time a year so that I pay less for shipping.  If you can’t find what you need at local stores, consider placing an order with a few friends as a way to reduce the cost.
  4. Swap seeds with friends.  If you have a few friends who garden, share seeds with them to help you fill in what you need.  A pack of leeks will go a long way, and splitting a pack or trading some of your leek seeds for another variety, might help to save you money. 
  5. Start seeds indoors.  If you want to get a jump start on  your fall crops, you can start seeds inside in flats.  Just be sure to harden them off—in the spring you would do this because of the cold, but in the fall you’ll do it because of the heat.
  6. Don’t forget the bulbs and perennials.  In our climate, fall is the perfect time to plant spring bulbs and most perennials.  Set aside a little money in your budget for those purchases.  My favorite bulb supplier is www.vanengelen.com because you can buy in bulk and receive significant savings.  By using the trench method for planting bulbs, 100 bulbs are just as easy to plant as 50.  With the savings by purchasing in bulk, you can make a major statement in your landscape.  For perennials and trees, you can check with gardening centers and ask about bulk discounts.   Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount when making a big purchase.  Also be sure to ask if they have coupons available or honor competitor’s coupons.  Locally some of the garden centers have coupons in the Knox County School Coupon Book. 

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