This week we have a little harvesting to do, and a lot of planting. We planted these onions from seed last October. They have been growing in the garden for 10 months! Onions from seed normally take a long time, that is why many people plant onions from transplants… the wait time is much shorter. Onions are ready to harvest when 3/4ths of the tops have fallen over. Gently lift the bulbs out of the ground. Cut the stalks an inch or so above the bulb and let dry in a shaded are before storage.
This week we will be planting some cool season vegetables. These plants struggle in the heat, but we will time them to mature when our weather has cooled. We will continue to add cool season veggies for the next several weeks!
Our first cool season veggie in the garden is cauliflower! Cauliflower is difficult to grow in the Carolinas. It is very temperature sensitive, and prefers average temperatures in the 60s. If we plant cauliflower in August, those preferred average temperatures will occur right when the plant is maturing in October. Cauliflower also does not like big temperature swings, which we tend to get in the spring. As long as our summertime heat does not last into October, fall is as good a time as any to grow cauliflower in the Carolinas.
Give cauliflower plants plenty of room to grow. Plants should be spaces 18 inches apart in rows three feet apart. Take care to keep the soil watered, even after the seeds have sprouted in 10-21 days. Cauliflower is delicious, and lots of insects target the plant. Watch closely and treat as needed, especially once the heads start to grow. Cauliflower planted in August will be ready for harvest in October.
I am also going to try a couple of fast growers that prefer cool weather. Radishes, arugula and bok choy tend to grow too fast and bolt in hot weather, but I have extra room in the garden and plenty of seeds, so I am going to give them a try.
Plant radish seeds in a row, directly into the garden by creating a ½ inch trench. The seeds are small, so sprinkle them along the trench, with the seeds about ½ inch apart. Cover with soil, and water gently. Until the seeds germinate, it is important to keep the soil moist. If the seeds dry out, the chances of them germinating are much lower.
Once the seedlings grow to 1-2 inches tall, they will need to be thinned so that there is 2-3 inches between plants. This will give the roots plenty of room to grow. It is also important at this point to keep the area around these seedlings free from weeds… these root vegetables are poor competitors against weeds.
Radishes are fun, but not everyone likes radishes because of their zippy flavor. Radishes take just 21-30 days to harvest, so this is a good plant to gets kids interested in gardening, since there is not much a long wait for the reward.
Bok choy takes about two months to grow to maturity, but can grow faster in hot weather. Plant the seeds to grow the plants about 12 inches apart. Keep the soil evenly watered until the seedlings become established.
Arugula can grow in hot weather, but it does grow quickly, and if you don’t pay attention will bolt and go to seed. Spread the seeds along a trench and thin them when seedlings appear.
August is a difficult time to grow anything from seed. The heat and intense sunshine can quickly dry out the soil, which will keep seeds from germinating. For seeds started in August, it is very important to keep the soil moist.