In a lot of areas of the United States, an additional planting season is beginning as cooler air starts drifting in during late August and September. So Hey, all you Urban Gardeners! It’s time to get your vertical Fall Garden growing so you can enjoy fresh-picked organic salads from your patio, deck or rooftop until Winter hits.
WHAT TO PLANT
Here are some of the best “cooler weather garden goodies” to sow in your vertical garden now:
spinach, chard, kale, arugula and even some lesser-known green super foods like mache and mizuna
lettuces, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, kohlrabi
chives, cilantro, lavender, mint, parsley (flat italian and curled), rosemary, thyme
WHEN TO PLANT
The easiest way to determine when to plant is to go online to your area’s Agricultural Extension Service. Here is a link to find the Land Grant Colleges/Universities (LGU) and Extension Services nearest you:
1) Click on your State
2) Choose Extension or LGU from the dropdown menu
3) Click on the institution of your choice, which takes you to their website
4) Use the website’s search field and type in “Fall Vegetable Gardens”
You’ll be given lots of valuable information and planting charts for your area. Thanks so much, Extension Services!
Another method is to calculate planting times yourself. Calculate when to plant by beginning with the average date of the first frost in the area where you live. Then, on each packet of seeds is an estimate of the days from planting to maturity. Add 10 days to this estimate to account for cooler fall temperatures and shorter days of sunlight. Take the date you want your plant to mature and subtract the total estimate of days required for the plant to grow. This will give you your latest planting date.
WHAT TO PLANT IN
There are plenty of vertical tower gardens to choose from as well as standard planters, pots and containers. We recommend the Earth Tower Vertical Garden and here is a link to 10 reasons why:
Once you have your planters ready, let’s prepare the PLANTING MIX. For fall planting, there’s no time to mess around! We’ve got to sow seeds; give each plant plenty of room and nutrients to grow big, delicious and FAST!; and harvest before the hard frosts hit.
Click the brands below for some fast, easy store-bought solutions:
[note for those who care: added fertilizer in this mix contains chicken manure, feather meal and meat meal)
If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer and want to mix your own, this recipe will serve you well:
3) Peat Moss or Coconut Coir
To this mixture, add:
- 25% Worm Castings (super food for plants)
- 1 teaspoon of dolomite lime per gallon of mixture if using Peat Moss (to balance and maintain proper PH)
- 1 tablespoon of Yum Yum Mix (vegan organic fertilizer) per gallon of mixture
TIP: use a 16 gallon rubbermaid bin. Fill it 1/2 full (8 gallons) with the above mixture. Mix well with a shovel, moisten well and fill your planter.
$ NOTE: Buying and preparing your soil mixture does add additional costs upfront, but this plant mix will last you through the Fall season, all through next spring and summer season and then two additional years (3 years total)! It will clearly pay for itself within the first year as you harvest an abundance of organic vegetables and greens.
You’ll be mostly sowing seeds 1/2” deep into the planting mix. These seeds will take a few days to germinate and much longer to establish a substantial root system. During these beginning stages of growth you’ll need to keep them GENTLY moistened. I use one of those wand sprayers with multiple settings. I just attach it to my hose and am able to gently water my seeds and seedlings using the “mist” setting.
A lot of the lettuces and greens grow rapidly with shallow roots. It’s important to give them access to lots of water and keep the plant mix continually moist so the leaves are tender, crisp, sweet and succulent.
After two weeks, feed your new plants with your liquid organic plant food of choice. Here’s some product links for consideration:
At this early stage, however, mix it to only 50% of recommended strength for weeks 3 and 4 and use a spray bottle or sprayer to spray directly on to your plants.
By week 5 your plants will be strong enough and will benefit from 100% dose of organic plant food once a week. If you’re using an Earth Tower, simply fill the internal reservoir with your liquid plant food mixture and let the planter do the rest.
About 6 weeks after planting, you can also top dress your plants with extra Yum Yum mix. Sprinkle Yum Yum mix around your plants and work it into the top inch of the soil.
To extend your growing season, you may also want to cover you Earth Tower or other Vertical Garden with some plant protection during the colder nights that dip below freezing. Dalen Gardeneer offers an excellent frost protection product for Vertical Gardens. Just slip it over your vertical garden like a big pillow case and buy some extra gardening days!
PATIO TO TABLE
Harvest your lettuces and power greens by picking and eating the larger, outer leaves first. The remainder of the plant will keep growing and producing fresh greens daily.
Enjoy your home-grown organic salad fixings picked fresh from right outside your door!
Here’s a picture of a salad including kale, carrots and sweet baby turnips grown in an Earth Tower Vertical Garden right on the patio.
TIP: Water radishes really well the night before harvesting so they come out of the soil easily.
If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at email@example.com … and send us your vertical garden pics!
Blessings and Happy Gardening!