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Gardening with Laurie: It's time to plant cool weather veggies

By Victoria Advocate
Oct. 20, 2011 at 5:20 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

Now that the heat wave of summer is beginning to break, it is definitely time to get those cool-weather veggies planted. Spinach, all types of lettuce and other cool season greens can be planted from transplants or seeds.

When sowing spinach seeds in your garden, lightly cover the seeds with ¼ inch of fine decomposed compost.

Lettuce seeds can be treated the same way. Some gardeners prefer to leave their lettuce seeds on the surface of the wet soil and then cover the seeds with lightweight row cover fabrics.

Fabric covers, also known as frost fabric, will keep the soil moist a little longer and are lightweight enough to allow the seeds to germinate and to be protected from garden pests. Leave plenty of slack to allow the seedlings room to grow under the fabric and cover the edges of the fabric with bricks, soil or boards to hold it in place. Fabric covers also can help to extend your fall growing season. These materials can provide frost protection down to about 26 to 28 degrees, and your crops can still receive sunlight and water through it.

Fall is a wonderful time to plant many different types of perennial herbs. Rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, pineapple sage, Mexican mint marigold and lemon balm are a few of the many varieties that can be added to your vegetable garden, flowerbeds or container gardens now that the weather is cooler.

Mexican mint marigold is a very colorful fall bloomer. Most of the herbs grow best in locations that get bright light and that drain well.

If you have collected any herb or flower seeds to save for planting in another season, be sure to store them in a cool dry area. Do not save seeds in plastic bags that can hold in moisture, use paper bags or glass jars, instead. Seeds can be stored in the refrigerator, not in the freezer. Always be sure to label each seed container with what type of seed is contained and where and when it was collected.

Perennial bloomers should be the backbone of your flowerbeds for great color, and right now is the best time to get them in the ground. Plant now for better-established plants this spring. Better established plants are better able to withstand the heat and dry conditions than something newly planted.

Lower temperatures mean that all your annual flowers should be thriving and blooming at their best. Keep them well mulched, and feed monthly to keep them healthy and blooming.

Our lawns have taken a hard hit this past summer and will need help reviving. Fall is the best time to add a thin layer of compost and some organic fertilizer to the grass to help strengthen the stressed root systems. Keep watering, unless we have rain, and come next spring, the lawn should be quick to take off.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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