November and December are
THE BEST PLANTING MONTHS
for These Herb & Vegetable Seeds
THE SEEDS DISCUSSED IN THIS NEWSLETTER AREAVAILABLE
ON OUR WEBSITE AT THE FOLLOWING LINK:
This is the final newsletter in a short series devoted to discussing some flower, vegetable and herb seeds that do best when planted in the fall. There are a number of flowers and a few vegetables that can be difficult to grow when planted in the spring, but flourish with exceptional germination rates when planted in autumn. Today’s newsletter is going to focus on three vegetables/herbs.
Corn Salad, pictured above, which is also known as Mache, fetticus, lamb’s tongue, lamb’s-lettuce and a host of other names is a little known but delightful, tasty salad herb/green that is an essential ingredient in mesclun mixes. Its mild, sometimes nutty flavor is a pleasant balance to the stronger, bitter flavors of some of the other mesclun greens.
If you have had a gourmet salad in a fancy restaurant, you most certainly have eaten Mache.
This herb is a European native that was introduced into the United States by the earliest settlers. Supposedly there are still stands of naturalized Mache existing around the old stone foundations of 1600s homes in Maine.
It became known as Corn Salad in Britain because the Brits use the term ‘corn’ to refer to many grains, and Corn Salad loves to grow wild in fields of grain.
Mache DOES NOT LIKE warm temperatures. It grows best when the daytime temperatures are below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can tolerate light frosts. In Zones 8-9, seeds should be sown in November-December. In Zones 6-7, if the fall is mild, Mache seeds can be sown and will germinate.
Seeds should be sown thickly because germination is lower than with other greens and covered with 1/2 inch of soil. Seedlings should be thinned to 6 inches. Mache takes about 75 days to mature in the fall.
If protected with mulch, the plants will survive the winter in Zones 5-7. In Zones 1-4, Mache does very well in a cold frame, usually making it through the winter. In Zones 8-9, Mache requires no protection, but will die out when the heat of spring descends upon the land.
Arugula is one of the best plants to start from seed during the late summer or early fall.
It is extremely cold tolerant so it will withstand all but the most vigorous of frosts. Arugula is also an excellent container plant. It flourishes in an 8 inch or larger container and with some modest protection may even last throughout the winter months.
It does not like the summer heat so it is best planted in August for Hardiness Zones 3-4, late September to November for Hardiness Zones 5-7 and November-December for Hardiness Zones 8-10.
Many qualities have been attributed to the herb, not the least of which is its powers as an aphrodisiac. In the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to grow arugula in monasteries because of its sexually stimulating ‘abilities’.
Be careful not to plant your seeds too early, because with intense heat they will not germinate
There are few things more refreshing in the fall and early winter than a salad made of newly harvested, peppery arugula, crowned with crumbled goat cheese and drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette.
Of all the vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs you can plant in the fall, Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach may very well be the easiest with one big BUT!
Spinach likes it cool or cold. The seeds do not like to germinate if their soil temperature is above 70 degrees, so for Hardiness Zones 6-7, you can plant in early November, and in Zones 8-10, I would not start planting until November or December.
The soil must be below 70 degrees to get good germination.
Bloomsdale is near and dear to me, and I have posted about it several times. In 1826, the Landreth Seed Company introduced the variety. Since 1826, it has remained one of the most popular spinach varieties sold and one of the most popular vegetable varieties ever developed.
It is a true and venerable American heirloom, but it is also a rugged little guy. In Zones 5-7, if you protect the plant with some straw in the winter, during most winters, it will survive and continue to produce until spring when, with the heat, it will rapidly go to seed.
In Zones 8-10, it can only be grown in the winter.
In Zones 1-4, even with mulching it, usually, will not make it through the winter, but will survive if protected by a cold frame. During the winter of 2011-2012, in our Zone 4 garden, the Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach made it through the winter without protection. We were harvesting and eating spinach in January after digging through a light layer of snow to get to it.
Bloomsdale does very well in pots. A small, 6-inch pot will hold one plant, an 8-inch pot will hold 2 plants and a 12-inch pot can hold 5 plants – enough to feed a family of four fresh spinach once or twice a week.
Next January, as you sit down to a dinner of fresh spinach salad, that you grew in your own garden or cold frame and cared for with your own hands and time, just think, “This spinach variety was MADE IN AMERICA, and it is so good that it has been grown by Americans for 193 years!!”
There are not many products that have stood the test of time this well.
Considering the vegetables that you can plant in November and December, lettuce is the vegetable that can truly be grown anywhere there is light, soil and water. This means you can grow lettuce in your backyard garden, on your deck or patio and, YES, apartment dwellers with no balcony, you can even grow lettuce on your windowsill.
The issue is not ‘can you’, but ‘which ones’. You must be careful when you plant lettuce. If you plant it too soon, the hot weather will cause it to germinate in a matter of days (not the 2-3 weeks it sometimes takes in early spring) and in just a few weeks it will become bitter and bolt.
If you plant it too late, it will take 2-3 weeks to germinate and then shortly thereafter the frost will kill it before it has had time to put on much growth.
In Hardiness Zones 3-4, lettuce should be grown in cold frames.
In Zones 5-7, lettuce should be started in early November and will need mulching.
In Zones 8-10, start lettuce in late November. Remember to succession plant in Zones 8-10. There is not enough time to succession plant in Zones 3-7. Succession plant by seeding every week to 10 days. Do not wait 2 weeks between plantings like you would in the spring. Your second and third crops will not have time to mature.
There definitely are lettuces that tolerate cold better than others. For example, most red lettuces are more tolerant than green lettuces. Romaine lettuces do better with mild frosts than leaf or heading lettuces.
The most cold-tolerant lettuce that I know of is Red Velvet, a beautiful leaf lettuce. Some other recommended varieties are Little Gem, a lovely little butterhead that produces cute little 5 inch heads in just 50 days, Green Ice, a strikingly green, frilly leaf lettuce which matures in 45 days, Red or Green Deer Tongue, two very rugged and distinctive leaf lettuces that mature in 70-80 days, and Red Oakleaf, a showy, quite cold tolerant leaf lettuce that matures in 50 days.
My favorite lettuce, for fall or spring planting, is the romaine lettuce, Cimarron. This exquisite plant produces rust to burgundy red baby leaves with pink veins. I suggest you only eat this lettuce as baby romaine, because that is when it is the prettiest.
Lettuce is the one vegetable that we all can grow whether it be in a window, on your deck or in your yard.
To conclude this short series on November and December planting, I have created a chart on the flowers, vegetables and herbs that can be planted at this time of year. For those who have never tried November-December planting, start with a flower and try a lettuce or spinach in a pot. If you find you are interested, then expand next November.
On Saturday, November 9, 2019, we will begin our
holiday series on horticulture gifts. This is the only time
when our newsletters are devoted to selling our products,
but because we cannot endure the crass commercialization
that afflicts this most wonderful of all seasons, we try to
provide some history about the items we are promoting to
help all of you to understand and to appreciate why these
items are so cherished and should belong to anyone who
considers themselves a gardener.
Celebrate your uniquely American horticultural heritage
Harvest Your History
Seed Your Future
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