September 15, 2019

Not Conducive For Fall Planting

This is the time of year I should be thinking about the fall garden, but it's been too hot and dry. So hot and dry that the lawn crunches when it's walked on. Our days have pretty much been like this...

Friday's rainfall turned out to be an eighth of an inch.

Rain has been scarce this month too, with our last halfway decent rainfall of 0.7" about a month ago. Even with watering, those upper 90s mean that the last of the summer garden has been in survival mode. These conditions are not conducive for either growing or fall planting.

What to do? If I wait until October to plant, I'll end up with an early spring garden instead of a fall harvest! I had to do something, so I got out my seed trays and planted some starts.

Seed trays planted.

The problem with planting in seed trays is that the soil dries out quickly in hot weather, especially when the humidity is down in the 30s%, like it has been. I can water them and an hour later the poor little things are bone dry. That's not conducive for growing! So I decided to experiment. I put the seed trays in large shallow plastic containers that Dan found in a dumpster years ago. If I fill them with shallow water, I thought, I can prevent the seedlings from drying out.

Seed trays in water tray.

But mosquitoes have been bad this year. If I fill the blue trays with water, isn't that an open invitation to mama mosquitoes looking for places to lay eggs? So I thought, what if I fill the gaps with wood chips?

The wood chips should deter the mosquitoes, help keep the water from evaporating so quickly, and hopefully keep the seed trays a little cooler.

Seed trays in water tray with wood chip mulch.

A couple of days later...

Chinese cabbages sprouting.

Hopefully the rest will be up soon!

Anyone else working on their fall garden?


  1. Oooh, NASTY weather. I get the impression we may live in the only part of the country experiencing "normal" right now.

  2. All I've got in the 'fall' container garden right now are some lettuces and a 10-gallon pot of peas. Very little rain (only 1.8" in Aug & 1.1" Sept). Barrels emptying quick this time of year. Hot days, nights in 50s, and great horned owls hooting at dawn. September.... Kris

  3. yes, but then our weather has been more normal temperaturewise! we've been having temps around 15/17 deg C - but unfortunately also a lot of wind. looks like it's picking up next week though - warmer, a lot of sunshine and less rain. today is a total washout - heavy drizzle since last night, only stopping later in the evening... but even though it keeps me out of the garden - it's really the perfect rain for plants/soil. and mid september there's already enough to do inside:)

  4. I just put our garden to bed, for other reasons until spring, but I hear ya. Only the nights have fall temperatures. If you plant in Oct, be prepared for the first frost days. I plan on an early spring too.

  5. Michelle, I don't think there is a "normal" anymore!

    Kris, night temps in the 50s! Lucky you! No matter, the hot days and no rain combo is never friendly for plants. L(

    Bettina, gotta love those long slow rains for the garden. Wind, though, is never a garden friend. It either blows plants over or helps dry out the soil!

    Jo, that's the problem with trying to fall garden in our part of the country. We simply go from summer to winter too quickly!

  6. Our tomatoes are still going incredibly strong, and the cukes have slowed down a tad. We harvested about a 1/3rd of our potatoes so far.

    About a week and a half I planted fall spinach, radishes, and some lettuce.

    After a really dry spell - very unusual for us in Northern Lower Michigan - we've had several days of rain, but the temps have been quite cool 60's during the day and 40's at night. Great sleeping weather, not so great growing weather.

  7. Very smart!!! I used wood chips around my tomato plants this year and they definitely thrived, but the weather didn't cooperate and they're still green. I have an abundance of green tomatoes! :)

  8. If by "Fall" you mean "Waiting for Summer to break", which is really more like two weeks at the End of October, then yes, I am working on it...

  9. I would love to be planting fall crops. However this year nearly everything was late and we are still mid harvest. On top of that everything -and I do mean everything-is coming at once. I’m picking pears peaches plums and apples at the same time. Needles to say I am canning day and night. Might not be able to do much planting this fall.

  10. buywireless, thanks!

    GiantsDanceFarm, welcome! It's nice to hear how productive you still are. I made a second planting of cukes around the first of August because pickleworm destroyed the ones I planted in spring. Two of them are still alive, but have only grown a couple of inches even though I water them. I hope your fall plantings do well, and I hope we all get some rain soon.

    Rain, you can can green tomato slices for frying this winter! Yummy! The soil organisms really like wood chips and they do a good job of helping the moisture stay in the soil.

    TB, that's exactly what I mean! Hopefully your weatjer will cooperate!

    Farmerjohn, oh my, having everything ripen at once is a lot of work. That's usually my August! I'm sure it's a relief that everything finally kicked into production. Better late than never. :)

  11. I have to dig my potatoes and that will be all until Spring. The nights have been too cold even for this garden. I am bringing cuttings from basil to grow inside and just took in the buttercup squash, I hope not too soon, but the deer were sampling them! Your idea for the trays looks good! Phil

  12. Lovely! Create a better mouse trap.

    Agreed Normal is a setting on a washing machine.

    We are dropping temp by about 20 degrees tomorrow and rain to boot. From my time in true NorCal this would be about right. But for being in central California foothills for the first time not sure what is spot on.

    I know that “normal” for on the flats of the San Joaquin Valley that fluctuating temps through October now normal.

    Oh bother break out the garlic and unpack the truck and trailer. Time to learn the new “normal” for new location and new year.

  13. Phil, I didn't know deer ate squash! I've had them wipe out sweet potatoes and beets, and do a lot of nibble damage on tomatoes, of all things, but both deer and goats have left my squash plants alone. It's hard to imagine still having potatoes to harvest, but that's the fun of reading other people's experiences based on where they live. Keeps us from making our world too small.

    Goatldi, good one! Again, thanks to the internet, I've learned that normal is just one person's experience. You've got a whole new region to learn, which is always interesting. Challenging, too. :)

  14. We've had kind of a nice summer as far as rain goes. Normally we are hot and dry like you. Sorry that our weather got mis-delivered.

    We've never planted a fall garden, mostly because it is always hot and dry and also being farmers, there just wasn't time for a fall garden. But it has been something that has intrigued me.

  15. Leigh, Isn't that the truth! Last year we had about 1 week of fall before the first freeze.

  16. Ed, you have to enjoy it whenever you get it! Of a fall garden, I have to say it's a lot of fun eating those fresh salads and greens. And of course my goats really enjoy them too.

    Jo, that almost sounds like a 2-season year! Or three, if you're lucky. Hard to plan for growing that way.

  17. what a great idea. I hope it works out well for you. Can't wait to see your fall garden. :D

  18. We are in The Sandhills of NC, so very hot and same issues. I chose to deal with it similarly, seed starting with bottom watering. We started indoors actually then moved outdoors into a spot that had shade in afternoon..then we recently started transplanting but covering with pest netting, which seems to be acting a bit as a sun protection as well and keeps the lil sprouts less scortched ����☺️

  19. Renee, me too!

    Hannah, I've been concerned about scorching as well. I have some old window screens I wanted to place on top of the blue trays, but they seem to be misplaced so I can't find them! The pest netting is a good idea. I'll be interested in how your system works!

  20. We dont do fall crops, too hot, then cold and very dry

  21. Nancy, the bottom line is that we have to know our regional weather patterns, isn't it?

  22. Genius idea! I love your ingenuity and making it work. It's been really not here this summer too but it's finally cooling off enough that it actually feels like fall. I'm not sure I'm going to do a fall garden--need to work on the garden patch this fall so we'll be prepared to grow more next year. Happy fall planting!

  23. Kristin, thanks! I was motivated to get a good fall garden in because my summer garden suffered so in the heat and dry. Still no rain in sight, but hopefully I can get some greens and root crops this winter.

  24. That looks like a great idea! Like you, we've had HOT, dry weather for so long - really since late spring. Our garden was a disaster this summer. We'll be rethinking its design for next year, so we didn't put anything in for the fall/winter. I'm still getting a few okra, and we have sweet potatoes to dig up.

  25. M.K., I'm in rethink mode too! I'm still hoping to plant this fall, although I don't expect I'll get anything until next spring. If it rains soon and we get some moisture in the soil, I'll give it a go for sure.


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