Fall Planning, Seed Starting

The weather here is in the 80s, but it feels hot enough to melt a sinner's heart in hell. I checked on the garden briefly, and harvested a handful of tasty morsels: a cucumber, a couple banana peppers, a few tomatillos, and some okra. However, okra is not a tasty morsel in my book. In my book it is slimy, seedy and generally unappealing, but Charlie likes it. I figure he has to have his short-comings, too.
I received my fall seeds from Pinetree Seeds on Saturday. Their shipping is actually just first class mail. The packets were amply filled, and contained not only enough for me, but to share with 2 other gardeners. I even have spares to play with. Single types of seeds, from what I consider ample selection, are about 95 cents a pack. The mixed packs are generally more, but they include all of the Pinetree varieties plus some. The adventurous spirit of those mixed packs really sold me. And if I'm being tough on the squash bugs, just wait until the cabbage loppers come back. It'll be like Dubya versus the axis of evil, and that, my friends, is the only time in my life I will compare myself to ol' Bush.
If you want garlic, they have one generic type with not much information about it. I would seek garlic out elsewhere. One of the best things to do is find some at a local farm only farmer's market. That way you're insured the garlic will thrive in your area. And, of course, it is always good to buy locally.
I've started the Romanesco Broccoli, Red Russian Kale, and a couple Sugar Snap Peas. If you don't compost your used soil, there are other options. I took the soil from my first batch of spring seeds that died out while I was on vacation, dumped it all in a stainless steel bowl and added enough water to moisten and mix the dirt, but not enough to really make mud. I baked the resulting mixture on 300 for 30-plus minutes. The idea is to start your seeds in sterile soil, and that temperature should kill off all the bad guys that could potentially hurt your seeds. It really isn't a bad idea to do this with bagged dirt purchased from the hardware store, either. I lost a good number of really precious houseplants this past spring thanks to some dirt infested with fungus and, naturally, fungus gnats. Not to mention a house of fungus gnats. Not pretty, not fun, and I lost my Hindu Rope Hoya. You might get some odd looks from roomies or SOs, but worthwhile.
My fall planting list is growing and growing (no pun intended). Radishes, spinach, several lettuce varieties, Pinetree's mixed pack of broccoli, their mixed pack of cabbages, kohlrabi, errr. . . and some others that aren't coming to mind.
With the spring veggies still going hard, I don't have the space for fall veggies that I should. Which means (oh woe is me) I will have to dig into the second plot, the one Charlie tilled due to my ideas of gardening grandeur. We didn't use it at all, but I stored the tarp of horse manure there, so a great deal of the grass is already dead. The manure is ripe, so to speak, and with a couple layers of newspaper over the remaining grass and weeds, I will be ready to build my bed! I'll use top soil for minerals mixed with the potting soil like I should have in the spring, and thanks to Tom Christopher's House and Garden blogs on June 21, 2006 and June 23, 2006, I have a fairly good grasp of fertilizer.
I know I started my spring seeds late, which is why my plants are producing really strong right now while my neighbor's are dying off. Especially the okra and peppers, which are just starting to really produce. It might be worth having 2 beds next year where one is started on time, the other started a month late. Then the crops would be continual all summer without a lapse going into fall. The first bed would die off in time for direct sowing fall plants, and as the second dies off I can plant it with the cold thriving cabbage family.

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