This year, with the hustle and bustle of the school year, we will not offer Late Summer garden plants or seeds. We are focusing solely on Fall crops that can be harvested before the end of the school year. Our recommended planting window (if you do not plan on maintaining a garden over winter break) is September 15 through October 15 to ensure you are able to harvest before the end of the semester.
Why such a short range? September is one of our hottest months. Seeds, especially those of cool weather crops, do not always germinate with high temperatures. So the further back we can push planting, the cooler the temperatures will hopefully be, and the better the chance seedlings will emerge. However, since most schools need to harvest before winter break, we can only push the planting date back so far. If you are planning on maintaining your garden over winter break (and someone will be able to water), you do not have these constraints–you can plant in October or November.
If you can only plant in late October or early November, and you will not be watering over break, you can still plant and harvest. In this late planting window, we can plant everything, the only thing that changes is the harvest. We may not be able to harvest broccoli crowns, but we can have tender broccoli leaves. We may not be able to eat beet root, but baby beet greens are a common component of salad mixes. You get the idea! Radishes are ready in 22-30 days.
Please note: to ensure your crops are ready on time, you must water deeply and consistently. When plants do not receive enough water, their growth slows down considerably.
- Assemble your Garden Team and contact your Program Coordinator
- Remove weeds!
- In the garden: when removing weeds make sure weed seeds are not able to blow (and spread) in the garden.
- Around the garden: pull weeds growing nearby. If you cannot, remove flowering heads or cut them down. Mowing will also keep weeds in check.
- Water your soil
- Water your soil before adding soil or amendments.
- Start watering deeply, daily for a week before the planting day. If your soil is not moist, seedlings will wilt (and possibly die) while seeds will be slow to germinate. If your soil is very dry, consider watering twice a day.
- Stick your fingers 3-4″ deep into the soil to ensure water is being absorbed and not just running off the side.
- Add soil or amendments
- If you are adding soil, water the existing soil first. Soil acts like a sponge: if you add moist soil to dry soil, the dry soil will zap all of the moisture from the new soil. Once your existing soil is moist, add your new soil on top. You do not need to mix it in. Tilling breaks down soil and leads to soil compaction. It is best to not till unless necessary.
- If you are adding amendments, have your class dig a deep and wide trench and add amendments. Cover it up with soil from the sides. You can also mix it in if desired.
- If you plan on using liquid fertilizer, wait until plants have sprouted and have a few leaves. Do not use liquid fertilizer when temperatures exceed 85 degrees.
This year we will be providing the usual seeds, such as:
|Crop (from seed)||Germination||Maturity|
|Beets||5-8 days||45-65 days (root & leaves)|
|Broccoli||10-14 days||80-100 days (crown)|
40+ days (leaves)
|Cilantro||7-10 days||45+ days (leaves)|
75 days (seeds, coriander)
|Garlic||7+ days||240 days|
|Kale||5-8 days||55+ days|
|Lettuce||7-10 days||30-55 days|
|Spinach||5-8 days||45-55 days|
As always, seedling offerings will depend on nursery availability.
Tips for Fall Crops
- Soak beet, cilantro, and spinach seeds 8-12 hours before planting. These seeds are still pretty small and can therefore, be difficult to grab. If you work with younger students may want to only soak a handful of seeds and compare the germination and growth of soaked vs unsoaked seeds.
- Soak garlic cloves for two hours before planting.
- Plant onion and garlic near plants that get a lot of pests like broccoli and kale.
- Plant flowers to attract pollinators
If you have any questions, please contact your Program Coordinator. Happy gardening!