GUIDE TO PLANTING YOUR SEEDS
COOL WEATHER PLANTS:
Arugula, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chicory, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard, Pak Choi, Peas, Spinach and other greens. These plants do not thrive in hot weather. Plant as early in spring as soil can be worked, or start indoors in February and set out 6 weeks later. Can also be started July or August and set out September.
Rule of thumb: Plant seeds to a depth of 3 times their size.
VARIETIES: (All varieties are open pollinated and seeds can be saved from them for next year)
ARUGULA: Fast-growing salad green with a slightly nutty taste and mild bite to it, unless grown in hot weather—then it becomes quite pungent. Direct sow in September or in spring as soon as ground can be worked. Thin to 8” apart, or sow in a block and cut all at once as baby leaves.
BEET: Beets are extremely nutritious, and the entire plant can be eaten. Beet greens are wonderful steamed separately or on top of the chopped roots. They do not like acid soil, and prefer a loose, rich area of the garden in full sun. They do not like hot weather, so may not perform well during July and August. You can pre-soak the seeds overnight and sow directly into the bed for best germination. Plant your beets 3-4” apart and thin if they touch. Eat the thinned baby beets—they are delicious. Plant a small row of beets weekly for continued harvest.
Burpee’s Golden—58 days. Golden through and through, this beet root and the top is mild tasting. Great novelty beet that has been around since 1970.
Chioggia—55 days. A mild beet known as the bulls-eye beet because of its red and white circles when cut in half. Does not bleed like a dark red beet, and both tops and roots are very tasty. My favorite beet!
Detroit Dark Red—56 days. Heirloom from the 1800s that produces a nice 3” round beet with dark green leaves. Sweet tasting.
Detroit Golden—50-55 days. Good yields, sweetest when young but does not become fibrous when larger. Looks almost like an overgrown orange-yellow carrot! Fast growing and retains sweet flavor when mature.
Early Wonder—55 days. Beautiful bright green large tops with a wonderful flavor. Beets are 3”
Ruby Queen—55 days. This beet is an All American Selections winner and produces very flavorful 3” beets. Can be used for canning, pickling or steaming. Is more adaptable to our clay soil.
BROCCOLI: Best started in a flat and transplanted out to a spacing of 12-18” apart. Can direct sow and then thin (transplant thinnings if you are very careful with the roots).
Calabrese—60-90 days. This Italian heirloom produces 5-8” heads and many side shoots. After the main stalk is harvested, lay the stalk on its side and it will create many side shoots to harvest. This broccoli is very frost tolerant, so start it early or overwinter it.
De Cicco—50-70 days. Di Cicco is an Italian heirloom broccoli dating from 1890. Di Cicco broccoli is very vigorous, emerald green, producing nice central heads 3-5" wide.
Rapini—Grown more for its stalks, leaves and small flowering tops, this broccoli is ready in under 40 days for harvest. Can plant both early spring and fall.
Romanesco—Lovely pale green spiral pattern to this broccoli/cauliflower make it extremely attractive raw or cooked. Very tasty too! Is probably best planted for fall, or started very early in spring, as it takes 75 days to mature.
Waltham 29—74 days. high yields, good color, cold resistance, dwarf compact plant, and big side shoots. Main heads are 4-8" with steady side shoot production after main head is harvested.
CABBAGE: Prefers cool and moist conditions, so the earlier started in spring the better. Plan to harvest through June, or plant in July/August for fall harvest. Plants should be 24” apart.
Copenhagen Market—65-75 days. Copenhagen Market produces a heavy yield of 4 to 5 pounds, 7 inch round heads of cabbage. Height of the plant is about 12-14”, width is about 25".
Early Round Dutch—75 days. Green, 2-5 pound heads that hold up fairly well in the heat.
Mammoth Red Rock— 110 days. Heads are slightly flattened, 8 to 10 inches in diameter with solid red color to the core. Hard and tight, this variety stores well.
Red Acre—75 days. Sustainable Seed Company says, “The Red Acre Cabbage is a supreme variety of cabbage and simply the best early OP Red Cabbage variety available.” This 3-pound cabbage holds in the garden well without splitting, and stores without yellowing.
CAULIFLOWER: Difficult to grow in our hot summers. Needs to be started July (August in the valley) so it is mature by fall, or started indoors in February so it ripens before the heat of summer. Make sure soil is well composted and high in nutrients so its growth is not interrupted.
Early Snowball—70-80 days. This cauliflower has large leaves that fold over the head to protect it from sun. If started early enough, it will produce in our area.
CARROT: Can be planted year round but is difficult to germinate in the heat of the summer. Try a piece of plywood held up by bricks on each end over your carrot bed until seeds germinate, and keep them watered twice a day in summer. Carrot seeds are small and are barely covered with soil, so they dry out quickly. They can take 10 or more days to germinate, so don’t give up!
Atomic Red—75 days. Atomic Red carrot is at its best when cooked as this helps to make the lycopene more available to your body. Atomic Red carrot has 10” long tapered roots.
Cosmic Purple—58 days. This purple carrot is sweet and tasty, and kids love it!
Danvers 126—72 days. Heat tolerant and very tasty 6-7” long carrot. A real treat.
Red Chantenay—70 days. A Golden orange carrot that is 5"-7" long and 2" in diameter. Chantenay red cored is known for its ability to handle relatively heavy soils and still produce. Resist splitting and forking. Reliable. Chantenay red cored makes a good storage carrot.
CHICKORY: This family includes radicchio, dandelion, endive, escarole, and even the wild chicory with the blue daisy-like flowers. All chicory varieties have a slightly bitter flavor.
Radicchio Palla Rosa—An early heading selection of this increasingly popular vegetable. Firm red heads with attractive white veins. Can also be sown and left unthinned for 'salad leaves’.
COLLARDS: Although collards do better in cool weather, they can be harvested most of the summer. They get quite large so thin as they grow into each other, or space 18”-2’ apart. Collards can be steamed, fried, or used in soups and stews. They are a little like a cabbage/kale cross and are mild and sweet. A very nutritious vegetable.
Champion—74 days. Good disease resistance, can be grown spring or fall.
Vates—75 days. Great producer, 32” high, with tasty leaves, especially after a frost.
KALE: Start kale early in the spring, and plant in rows or clumps scattered throughout the garden. It will bolt or become bitter when weather turns hot, and in fact, is sweetest of all after a few frosts when started in August and allowed to grow over the winter. Expect to be able to pick spring-sown kale through mid-June, and then pull the plants or cover with row covers if saving for seed production because the harlequin beetles devour it like candy until there is nothing left.
Lacinato, or Dinosaur kale—50 days. Strap-like leaves about 3” wide and 12” long, this kale is extremely winter hardy and very sweet after a few frosts.
Red Russian—55 days. Can be eaten raw in salads as a baby leaf or steamed when full grown. Produces over a very long period when outer leaves only are harvested. Great winter crop, and very nutritious!
Premier—60 days. An early variety of kale that produces copious amounts of tasty green leaves. Smooth leaves with scalloped edges. Plant in the fall to over-winter Premier keeping the plant compact. This will result in a higher spring production and resist bolting 3-4 weeks longer.
KOHLRABI: Not a well-known vegetable, kohlrabi forms a round ball at the base of its stem, which tastes like a mild sweet cabbage. Delicious grated into a salad or sliced on a platter with dip. Sow early as possible in spring, and thin to 12” apart, or start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost date and transplant out into the bed.
Purple Vienna—63 days. Bright purple, eye catching ball, to be harvested at 2-3”.
LEEK: Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a chart for year-round leek production. It can be done! Leeks can easily be started by sowing a 100 seeds in a 6” pot 8 weeks before the last frost. Cover the seeds with a small amount of soil and place the pot in a warm, sunny window or under grow lights. Keep the tops trimmed to 3” if you want stalky plants. Plant out in a trench about 6” deep, 4” apart. As the leek grows, fill the trench in. This blanches the stalk, making it tender. Eat any thinnings but remember that leeks like to grow close together. Harvest when 1/2” in diameter but can be left to get quite large and still be tasty.
LETTUCE: Growth all year round depends on the lettuce variety. Summer is tough on lettuce, so plan to plant it under some afternoon shade from other vegetables or shade cloth. If protected in winter with a row cover, it will provide salads all winter long. If started indoors, plant seedlings out in March about 6” apart, eventually thinning to 12” apart. Can also direct seed close together and cut as baby lettuce with scissors. Lettuce produces seeds that are easy to save because it is self-pollinating. Plant only one variety in a patch to be on the safe side as varieties whose flowers touch can cross (will also cross with wild lettuce if it is close by). Cut lettuce flower stalk when at least half the flowers are in bloom and place upside down in a paper bag to dry a few weeks. Then shake the seeds to the bottom of the bag to save.
Australe—A red-tinged butterhead lettuce, beautiful, tasty, and resistant to mildew. Pick when softball sized as it will bolt (go to seed) shortly thereafter.
Black Seeded Simpson—48 days to maturity, this heirloom leaf lettuce is a favorite! Light green leaves are gorgeous and are most tender in spring and fall, but will survive a hot summer with some shade. Adds a nice loft to salads as leaves are crinkly and bright.
Bronze Arrow—Bountiful Gardens says, “A rare, long-standing heirloom leaf lettuce that has it all. We feel it is one of the best lettuces in the world. Will stay fresh and tasty at marketable size for about three weeks even in hot weather. Overwintered through a snowy winter in Willits (zone 8). Can be grown as a cut and come again variety.”
Buttercrunch—Lovely butterhead lettuce with soft green leaves and delicate flavor. Grows spring or fall. Received the All American Selections award for its performance.
Cimmaron—60 days, or 20 days for baby leaves. A hearty red romaine type with good flavor.
Freckles—56 days. Romaine type, green with red splotches. Beautiful and tasty.
Jericho—56 days. Romaine type that is very heat resistant.
Lolla Rosa ‘Darky’—50 days. A ruffly very dark red leaf lettuce that can be used as cut and come again at 20 days or left to mature into a 10” wide red fluffy head of lettuce. Good flavor, somewhat heat resistant.
Magenta—A whorl of red-tinged green leaves that handles heat well. Good flavor, very attractive lettuce, resistant to tip burn and bottom rot.
Paris Island Cos—75 days. Upright growth, thick but tender green leaves. Vigorous.
Red Deer Tongue—48 days. Lettuce with red pointed leaves, great in salad mix.
Red Salad Bowl—Deeply lobed red leafy lettuce, slow to bolt, that can be grown 12” apart or used as cut and come again baby leaves. With a little shade in summer it can handle the heat.
MUSTARD: A common vegetable in Asian cooking and stir fries. Can be very hot or quite mild. Easy to grow and matures fast in cool weather. Tastes very strong and bitter when grown in summer. Direct seed mustard and thin to 8” apart. Cut outer leaves and steam or fry.
Tendergreen or Spinach Mustard—45 days. Very mild large-leafed green mustard, hardy enough to grow all winter. Even the flowers and stems are delicious raw or cooked.
Osaka Purple—40 days. Purple-green mild mustard, tasty and lovely in the garden.
ONION: The natural cycle of an onion is to seed itself about August, grow through winter, form an onion in early summer, and form a seed stalk that will reseed itself in August again. However, onion seed can be started indoors in winter and planted out as early as February or March—onions will still be ready in summer but just won’t be as big as Fall-planted onions. To plant seeds, surface sow on a flat or in a pot, and cover with a light layer of fine soil. The onions will grow through like little hairs. Short-day onions are usually grown in the South, whereas our day length allows intermediate or long-day onions to fully develop a bulb. All our selections are long-day or intermediate day onions.
Evergreen White Bunching—70 days. Green onion tops with small bulbs. This onion can be direct seeded close together and the thinnings used in salads and soups. This is not a bulbing onion.
Red Torpedo—Long red onion, mild flavor. Does not store well.
Vogliotti—This is our heirloom large, red onion from Calaveras County. Delicious!
Yellow Sweet Spanish—110 days. A sweet yellow onion that can be stored up to 6 months. Can get quite large but always has a nice, mild flavor.
Walla Walla—Mild yellow onion from Walla Walla, Washington. Plant spring or fall.
PAK CHOI: A typical stir fry ingredient, pak choi (or bak choi) has lovely green leaves with thick white stems. Can be used in stir fries, soups and stews. Sow early in spring and thin to 10” apart.
Canton—50-60 days. The best variety for hot areas like ours. Large dark green leaves and very thick white stems.
PARSNIP: Planted in the fall, parsnip will come to full root size by late spring of the following year. Dig the roots and put into stews and soups, or cut into blocks and fry with a coating of curry or mixed peppers. Sow parsnip 1/4” deep and keep moist until it germinates. Germination is low and slow on parsnip seeds so plant plenty!
PEA: Edible-pod peas grow well in fall or early spring. If planted in late August, a crop may ripen before the winter gets too cold. Plant 4-6 inches apart and let them climb a fence.
Oregon Sugar Pod II—Large flat pods are prolific and sweet. Give them something to climb.
Super Sugar Snap—Powdery mildew resistant. An earlier, somewhat shorter-vined version of Sugar Snap with the important addition of resistance to powdery mildew. The vines avg. 5' or more and need trellising.
Early Frosty—60 days. Outstanding quality and sweetness, a superior variety for freezing. At its best before the pods are completely filled.
RADISH: Really a cool weather crop, radishes can grow in all but the hottest months here. They will do better in part shade in summer, but produce a crop so fast that most of the year you will be eating radishes! Seeds are large and easy to plant, spaced 2-3” apart.
Cherry Belle—21 days. This is the typical red, round, white-fleshed radish everyone loves. Never gets pithy.
Comet—25 days. Red skin, white flesh, perfect round shape. Can be grown in hot weather.
Easter Egg—28 days. Multicolored radishes, very fun and also flavorful.
French Breakfast—28 days. This is an elongated French heirloom radish, with red top and white bottom. Tasty and attractive and just a little different.
German Giant—28 days. This red heirloom is very mild and very large. Will keep growing without getting spicy or tough. A great radish.
Pinkie—26 days. 1” pink radish with white flesh.
Purple Plum—28 days. 11/2” round, bright purple radish is beautiful and very tasty.
Watermelon—55 days. This radish is white on the outside and bright pink inside! Novel and tasty.
SORREL: Leafy green with sharp citrus flavor. Cut off flower stalks in summer for continued greens and expansion from the roots. Leaves become harsh in hot summers. Plant in part shade and keep moist.
SPINACH: Can be grown very early in spring or throughout winter with some protection. Heat makes spinach bolt (go to seed) and it will not germinate if it is too warm. A row cover helps it in winter and shade cloth helps it in spring.
Bloomsdale Longstanding—30 days for baby leaves, 50-60 days mature. A very popular heirloom spinach, it is more heat tolerant than most. Germination may be slow but if planted in rich soil, baby leaves can be harvested in 30 days. Leaves are slightly crinkled, dark green and very flavorful.
Viroflay—50 days. An old variety dating back to the mid 1800’s in France. Great flavor fresh or cooked.
SWISS CHARD: Chard loves spring! Seeds can be direct sown April through early August, about 4” apart and thinned to a foot apart, or start in flats in February and carefully transplant (chard does not really like being transplanted so take care not to damage the roots). Chard leaves can be steamed or used in stir fries or soups. Very nutritious vegetable.
Flamingo—55 days. Lovely pink ribs with bright green contrasting leaves.
Fordhook Giant—55 days. An heirloom from the 1920s, this is the standard green leafed chard with large white ribs. Can reach 2’ tall easily. A very tasty, dependable chard.
Rainbow Mix—55 days. A mix of stem colors ranging from gold, pink, purple, orange, red and white. Ornamental, nutritious and delicious.
Ruby Red—55-65 days. Bright red stalks, dark green leaves.
TURNIP: Very sweet root vegetable if grown in the fall.
Purple Top White Globe—57 days.