Late-Summer Gardening

| 8/1/2011 10:20:00 AM

Late-Summer GardeningI’m planting my fall garden, but it’s so hot outside! What can I do to help seeds germinate when I plant them in hot summer soil? 

Most annual vegetable seeds germinate readily in soil temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But in midsummer, soil temperatures can be at the high end of that range — or above it — making it tough to get good germination for some crops. That includes lettuce (ideal germination temperature is 75 degrees), spinach (70 degrees), peas (75 degrees) and beans (80 degrees).

To get an accurate read on how warm your soil is, try a soil thermometer (sold at garden supply centers). If your soil is too hot, cool it down with moisture and shade. Simply moisten the soil the day before you plan to plant. Also, sow larger seeds, such as peas and beans, a bit deeper than the recommended planting depth — the closer to the surface, the warmer the soil.

After sowing your seeds, cover the bed with shade cloth, or cover the planting area with a light layer of grass clippings, boards or cardboard. Moist soil is cooler than dry soil, and the covering will retain moisture while shading the soil, further reducing soil temperature. Keep the soil moist and covered, and check the planting daily until the seeds germinate; remove the covering immediately to let in light. (Shade cloth can remain on for a week or two to protect seedlings.)

You can also bypass direct seeding in hot soil by starting seeds indoors in pots. Transplant the seedlings to the garden several weeks later when the soil has cooled.

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters