Row by Row Episode 212: Transplant Or Direct Sow Fall Seeds?

So which is it… do you transplant or direct sow fall seeds? Well, obviously it’s going to depend on the variety. Most gardeners plant a combination of seeds and transplants. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method and a lot depends on the vegetable and the time of year. There are some plants that will do fine planted either way, depending on the season. 

Crops that we grow for their roots, like carrots, beets, and turnips do not transplant well. Often the large taproot is lost, and we’re left with a plant with a fibrous root system. Lettuce is a good example of a vegetable that will be fine transplanted or direct sown.  In the spring, when the soil is cool, it is best to use transplants.  If planting in late August for a fall crop, feel free to direct seed.  Lettuce seed will take two weeks to germinate in cold April soil but 3 to 4 days in the summer. 

What Fall Seeds To Direct Sow

Direct seeded crops require less labor and tend to mature faster than transplanted crops. They can be riskier, contending with weather and weed pressure. Of course, you will want to be prepared to thin. (crowed plants compete for light, water, and nutrients). They’re not subjected to stresses such as being pulled from the soil and having to re-establish roots. Start and finish in same place.

What Fall Seeds To Transplant

Starting with “baby” plants in the garden can give you more control and predictable results. Transplants give you a huge jumpstart on the season because they will mature sooner and give you an earlier harvest. They can be more resistant to insect and other pest pressure because they are more mature and stronger when you first put them into your garden. Be sure to harden off your transplants, which means exposing them to slightly cooler temps and some dryer conditions before putting them out into your garden. Some plants can suffer from “transplant shock”. Unfortunately, some crops respond poorly to transplanting.  Beans and peas for example, often succumb to transplant shock and even those that survive will be weak and poor-yielding.

What Fall Seeds Can Be Direct Sown or Transplanted

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