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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Direct Seeding of Fall Vegetable Crops

Gardeners should seed some vegetables directly into the garden and thin them to a proper stand at a later date. The thinned plants can be planted in other areas of the garden or in areas where perhaps the stand is relatively poor.

How to seed directly into the garden and get the plants to come up to a proper stand is the problem. One obvious method would be to provide a better environment in which the seed can germinate and thereby grow into a healthy and vigorous seedling. Believe it or not, this can be done in most areas of Texas by simply modifying the seeding area right in the garden.

A simple way to do this is to mark off the desired rows in the garden. In most areas of Texas, it is important that the soil be bedded prior to planting. This is especially true in fall gardens and in areas where excess rain occurs during the fall gardening season. After the garden has been bedded and the rows marked off, take a hoe handle or stick and make a seed furrow. The seed furrow will vary in depth but, generally, is usually ¾- to 1-inch deep. Next comes a very important step. After the seed furrow has been made, take a watering can or water hose and apply water DIRECTLY into the seed furrow. Apply sufficient water to wet the loosened soil to a depth of 2 or 3 inches. In some cases this may necessitate that you apply the water several times rather than one single application.

Always plant more seed than needed. After the water has soaked in, scatter the seed evenly along the furrow. Soaking the large seed in water overnight will help get the germination process started. After the seed has been sown, instead of covering them with garden soil, use a material such as compost, potting soil, peat moss or vermiculite. By using a media like compost as a covering material, you will provide a better environment in which the seed can germinate and grow. Problems associated with soil crusting and resulting poor aeration will be eliminated.

If you use a light-colored material, the seeding area will be cooler. With a material like compost, depth of seeding is still important but not critical. Small seed planted a little too deep will still come up. Within a few days, depending on the crop planted, the seed should germinate and begin to emerge. It is especially important at this time that you do not allow the soil to dry out. Additional water should be applied as needed.

Once the plants have emerged, you might consider applying a protective shade or cover on the west side of the row to protect the plants from the intensive summer sun. This protection can be in the form of a board, cardboard, or shade?type cloth. Once the plants are an inch or two tall they should be thinned to the proper stand.

Gardeners always wonder what vegetables should be transplanted and what should be seeded. As mentioned, tomatoes, pepper and eggplant MUST be transplanted now. Crops such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower can be transplanted for early harvest and to avoid the cost of expensive hybrid seed. These crops may also be seeded directly into the garden area now since they can tolerate frost and are relatively fast maturing.

When planting seed directly into the garden, gardeners customarily plant a single row on each raised bed. To follow the advice of country music singer Barbara Mandrell, "Planting (or was it Sleeping?) Single in a Double Bed" is wasteful. Why not plant double in a single bed? Planting double in a single bed simply involves planting two rows of seed side-by-side on each bed of soil. This practice is not new. Commercial growers have been successfully planting two rows of seed on each bed for years.

The logic of planting double in a single bed is obvious. The soil has already been meticulously fertilized so why not produce as many vegetables as possible from the space available. If a drip irrigation system is being used, simply place the drip hose between the two rows planted in the same bed. With the same amount of water that would normally be used, you will produce twice as many vegetables.

If the two rows per bed system is so wonderful, why isn't everyone using it? First of all, only certain vegetables that produce small plants can be used. These include such vegetables as beets, carrots, lettuce, onions, parsley, radishes and turnips that should have plants spaced two inches apart.

Beans, garlic and spinach should have plants spaced four inches apart.

Chard, collards, kohlrabi and mustard should have plants spaced six inches apart.

Vegetables which produce larger plants such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and pepper should be spaced 24 inches apart can also be planted using the two-rows-in-a-single-bed technique if plants are staggered. Plants that require more than a 24-inch spacing should be avoided when using this double-row planting scheme.

Gardeners must also realize that judicious use of water and periodic (every two weeks) side dressing with a rapid-release, Winterizer-type ratio fertilizer (3-1-2 such as 15-5-10) must be used with this system to insure maximum yields. Weed control in the space between plants that are planted double in a single bed will be more tedious during the first weeks of establishment. As crops mature, and compete with weeds for nutrients and sunlight, weeds will become less of a problem.

Mandrell's concept of planting single in a double bed may be an accepted technique for some gardeners, but the adventurous types will try the more productive practice of planting double on a single bed. Regardless of how you do it, DO IT NOW to insure a fall gardening success!

For a direct-seeding chart for fall planting, see: