Burgi Bartlett, Loving Garland Green Board member looks over the several hundred seeds that she has laid out in rows prior to covering with soil- Garland Community Garden September 30, 2017
Although the list is pared down considerably from spring, there are still plenty of edibles that can be planted in the DFW area. Thus yesterday at our month-end clean sweep at the Garland Community Garden we planted 100 turnip seeds, 50 beet seeds, 100 radish seeds, and 100 carrot seeds.
Keep in mind that November 22 is the average first frost in our DFW area and figure back from there according to the number of days to maturity that is usually found on the back of the seed packet. Also in addition to the edibles listed below, you might consider sowing a few milkweed seeds in your flower beds shortly before the first frost. Milkweed and many of our wildflowers do best when planted in the fall as their seeds need to be cold-stratified over the winter.
Seed Plantings for Eatables and Latest Suggested Planting Date
Beets - September 30
Garlic - October 18
Chinese cabbage - October 1
Kale - October 15
Onions - October 15
Leeks - November 1
Lettuce - October 15
English peas - November 1
Parsley - October 4
Shallots - October 15
Spinach - November 1
Turnip - November 1
Radish - November 15
Rutabaga - October 15
Preparing the Soil
Soil preparation prior to planting anything is an important step in our area with its heavy clay soil; however, it is especially important when planting a root crop such as turnips, beets, carrots and radishes. You can purchase expanded shale at just about any nursery or garden store in our area. The average price is about $20 for a 40- pound bag. This is a one-time requirement. You won’t need to replenish the expanded shale at subsequent plantings. The shale aerates the soil by creating air pockets that make room for roots to breathe and grow. How much expanded shale? I recommend putting about a three-inch deep layer over the area to be planted and then working it in to a depth of about a foot.
Prepare the Seeds
I’ve had greater success with seed planting if I follow a process that Carol Garrison, Master Naturalist, and friend taught me a couple of years ago. I’ve modified the process somewhat in that I do a large number of seeds at a time and I allow them to sit for 24 to 48 hours in the wet paper prior to planting.
Long plastic or glass container with a lid (9/12 inch glass containers for lasagna)
Roll of unscented toilet paper
Small bowls for seeds
1. Cut 1-inch wide strips of toilet paper the length of the container. (You will need to cut 8 or nine strips)
2. Place them in the bottom of your container.
3. Wet the washcloth and drizzle water over the strips of toilet paper—try not to totally soak but get them wet.
4. Using tweezers pick up the seeds on at a time from the bowls and place on the wet strips of toilet paper. Space them according to instructions on seed packet.
5. Cut enough strips of toilet paper the same length as previously cut and lay on top of the wet strips.
NOTE: Gently press the two strips together to meld them.
6. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover all the strips
Repeat steps 1-6 until you have prepared all the seed you want to plant.
7. Cover the container and let sit in a warm (not hot) place for 24 to 48 hours. I don’t recommend leaving longer as they might mold. Some of the seeds such as radishes will already have begun to sprout and all the seeds will be swollen somewhat.
Gently lift the seeds, toilet paper strip at a time from the container and place on top of the soil. You can see what this looks like in the photo above. Cover according to recommended depth with potting soil and gently pat the soil.
This year, for the first time in my life I’m going to try to grow English peas. I like to eat them and in reflecting on my long life, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a fresh English pea—only canned and frozen. I find it very surprising that English peas can be planted up to November 1 in our area as I've always thought of them as being rather fragile plants. However, I am planting them in the Garland Community Garden sometime this week—depends upon when I can get my hands on some seeds.
I’ll keep you posted on how well they grow.
NOTE: This information concerns dates for planting seeds in the DFW area. Of course if you can still find them, you can put transplants of cold hearty edibles such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower to name a few. Yesterday I visited nurseries in an near Garland. I can report that when it comes to winter vegetable transplants, the pickings are slim indeed. I did manage to score a few kale plants, however.