Does anyone plant their "spring garden" in the Fall?

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Last Fall (end of Sept.) as a trial I planted some spinach wanting to see how much earlier it would come up VS. planting it this spring. Well, lo and behold around the 20th of March, even though we still had snow in parts of the garden, here was tiny sprouts of spinach coming up. That next week we had a blizzard, snow, 15 degree weather and when the snow finally melted several days later, there was the spinach no worse off. I am wanting to plant more "spring" things next fall, but what? We live in zone 5 and at 2600 feet. I was thinking lettuce, swiss chard. What about potatoes (I've had volunteers come up before)? How about carrots, beets? Does anyone do this on a yearly basis? Since I am usually running behind it is exhilerating, for once, to be ahead!! Thank-You!

-- Marie in Central WA (Mamafila@aol.com), April 04, 2002

Answers

This is something that I am planning on doing more of next year. This year I set seeds out (peppers and tomatoes)when I mulched the beds in late fall, as the year before I had earlier volunteers in the garden than I did from my pre-started seeds. Seems like a good way to get a head start and with little fuss. Though Iím in zone 8, we still get enough of a freeze to kill off peppers and tomatoes.

-- BC (desertdweller44@yahoo.com), April 04, 2002.

Read Ruth Stouts book! She, and Richard Clemence, with whom she wrote the book "No work garden book" both experimented with your idea. And yes, potatoes were among the successful (sp?) plantings. Gonna try it myself this fall. No work? I like the sound of that! :)

-- Sue (sulandherb@aol.com), April 04, 2002.

I did this with garlic--I am not sure but I think they will be ready by june/july. Don't know if it saved any time or not.

Sue--would that be potatoes from seed?

I'm exactly at the convergence of zones 5 and 6.

-- Ann Markson (tngreenacres@hotmail.com), April 04, 2002.


Ann: I also planted garlic last fall and it is up but I was with the understanding that this was the way to plant garlic and have not known of anyone planting garlic in the spring, but I could be wrong. I also "planted" some tomatoes by squishing them in a row and figuring that must be how the volunteers are planted. Since it is way to early for them to be up I will have to wait to see if that idea was successful. I do have Ruth Stouts book but must have missed that part of it. I read it years ago and we do drip irrigation with mulch from the barn. Sure keeps the weeds down and the soil more moist. Thanks you guys!

-- Marie in Central WA (Mamafila@aol.com), April 04, 2002.

Many cool tolerant plants can be over-wintered, The trick is to plant early enough for the plant to be beyond the first true leaf stage, the set after the cotyledons or seed leaf, and to provide some light, porous mulch. I'm in zone 5a.

I discovered a neet technique along this line by accident. One fall I decided to over winter four mature kale plants. I used hay bales to form a south facing enclosure and a pane of glass as an angled glazing. Come the end of March, the plants were growing again, but this time they sent up flower spikes. The four plants produced Thousands of seeds, but that's not the best part. These seeds took root, scattered by the wind, in all corners of the garden and continued to be harvestable like weeds. The next spring, smaller plants appeared. These behaved like the parents, apparently surviving under the autumn leaves.

A similiar phenomena occurred with turnips. I was trying to determine the most cold harty by over wintering under Remay and 6mil clear plastic. The next year I found turnip weeds through the summer!

These plants are both biennial. The production of seeds might limit the usefulness of this technique, as the plants become bitter while in nitrogen phase.

-- Don Mruk (mruks@crystal-mtn.com), April 04, 2002.



Marie... There is a whole branch of agriculture that practices fall planting. Natural farming, as created by Masonobu Fukuoka, is based on the principal that seeds should go in the ground when the plants set their seeds in the ground, naturally. Join up at fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, and chat with some of the folks there. Fukuokan methods also include wrapping seeds up in clay+humous balls, for random dispersal. The clay protects the seeds from early germination, and from animal predation. If anybody is interested in no-work gardening taken beyond Ruth Stout, check out Emilia Hazilip Garden on Seedballs.com's site. This site has tons of great info on inspiring gardening methods.

-- roberto pokachinni (pokachinni@yahoo.com), April 05, 2002.

Thanks, Roberto, seedballs.com is a neat site!I'll check out the other one when I have more time. Amy

-- Amy (kimico@aol.com), April 05, 2002.

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