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Sprouts is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.


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It’s Nearly Autumn: Plant Vegetables!

The good news is: It’s not too late to plant vegetables in your small kitchen garden. On the other hand, if you live in zone 5 or farther north, you’re pushing your luck. Zone 5, is the hardiness zone that cuts diagonally south-west from Maine, across New York and northern Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and most of the central states from central North Dakota down to central Kansas.

If you’re in that huge swath of the United States, you have a reasonable shot at growing some decent lettuce and spinach, maybe some small onions and radishes, turnip and collard greens, and annual herbs such as basil, cilantro, and dill. Late August is a little late to start, but if you plant vegetables that you can eat at any growth stage (leaf crops are the safest bet), you’ll probably get a few weeks’ harvest from them.

Southerners: Plant Vegetables!

The better news is for people who live in zone 6 and farther south. That’s a whole bunch of United States, and you likely have a decent stretch ahead in which cold weather crops can mature. Plant vegetables this week.

I straddle zones 5 and 6—they call it zone 5b—and I just planted a single nine-foot row in my garden with four feet of leaf lettuces, two feet of spinach, and two feet of cilantro. I’m not expecting large mature lettuce and spinach plants before a deep October freeze, but I’m confident I’ll have some fresh greens to go along with the last tomatoes of the growing season.

Take a Lazy Garden Approach

A cautious planting in my small kitchen garden

Because I’m flirting with the possibility of losing my young crops to an early freeze, I wasn’t willing to expend a lot of energy with the planting. To minimize the work, I turned over the soil only within the space I intended to plant. Then I broke up the chunks with a hoe, and raked it out leaving a rake-wide depression about two inches below the surrounding soil and centered on the row. I planted seeds by sprinkling them across the raked area as I might season my food—spreading a generous amount of seed in each section. Finally, I sprinkled soil over the row to put the seed an eighth- to a quarter-inch underground.

Hazards of Late Season Plantings

There are challenges with growing crops for a late harvest. For example, in a very dry summer, you need to water aggressively to get seeds started; in direct, hot sun, the soil dries out quickly to typical planting depths for smaller seeds. You must keep the soil damp until sprouts appear, and then water enough to protect the young roots from drying out. You may need to water daily… or even twice daily for three or four weeks as your new plants get established.


Insects and caterpillars are another important concern: summer vegetable-eaters weren’t around to damage your spring crops, but they’re ready and happy to forage in a second planting of cold-weather vegetables. I hate putting anything on my small kitchen garden other than water, mulch, and compost. But it’s dispiriting to plant a fall crop and see it decimated by aggressive pests. A general-purpose insecticide such as Sevin can keep down just about all the bugs, but if you object to the chemicals, the biological insecticide DiPel might do a good job—especially for caterpillars.

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