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  • Writer's pictureThe Collected Seed

Frost tolerant? It’s 100 degrees!

Greetings from the edge of Mother Nature’s sanity! Here it‘s time to start the seeds of frost tolerant plants while we cook under the heat of a thousand suns. In fact, I’m behind. I should have started some of this while the oven was pre-heating, but alas, it didn’t happen, so we’ll see what happens.

In the spring, I loosely follow what the Oklahoma State Gardening Guide factsheet says about planting dates. In the summer, I pay a lot more attention to their Fall Gardening factsheet. Sweating it out in the heat somehow interferes with the when-to-plant senses I seem to have in the spring. Unfortunately, none of the fact sheets include annual flowers so I've quickly found myself behind.

What's on my fall garden grow list, and a brief status report for each

Sweet peas - I'll grow these if I have the space. I've already over-planted my green beans and have about three-times more lettuce started than I'll need, so space will be iffy. My bad, sweet peas.

Spinach - Something I'm not behind on! Woot!!! I plan to direct sow this in Mid-Sept around the base of my fall tomato plants.

Snap or snow peas - Wow, two in a row that I'm not behind on... double woot! Like spinach, I'll sow these in a few more weeks. I have a huglekulture-ish project (more on that in a post later) where I'll grow these to help add nitrogen.

Radishes - These will be direct sown once the heat breaks. Since they mature so quickly and don't take up a lot of room, I tend to tuck them in various planters, containers and garden corners. I'm allergic to onions and find that homegrown radishes make an excellent replacement in both fresh and cooked recipes. I haven't tried them diced on a hot dog, yet, but I might just give it a try this fall.

Time to thin my kale seedlings

Vates kale - This is the really ruffly, blueish-gray variety. My seed packet says dwarf, but if they're dwarf, I'm scared to see how big a non-dwarf variety gets. I started these in trays indoors last week (early August) and they just started to emerge. They may be slightly behind as the OSU planting guide recommends a Sept 1 date for kale transplants.

Mesclun - I plan to grow this along the base of the snow pea rows so I'll sow it just after the peas emerge. My mesclun mix includes Mache (AKA Corn Salad), which seems to be the most frost tolerant of all leafy greens, so I expect to have greens well into winter.

Black seeded Simpson sprouting up

Lettuce - I started lettuce indoors about 2 weeks ago (early August) because it was too hot for lettuce to germinate outside. As soon as the cotyledons emerged I moved the tray outside to an area that gets shade after noon to 1 p.m. I'll transplant them once they have two true leaves.

Parsley - I put these in water to soak one morning before work. In fact, I was a little late that morning because I stopped to do this before heading out the door. I took the time because I anticipated it being the only evening that week when I would be able to plant them. Things went sideways and they spent about 48 hours in the water before I planted them. Miraculously, it doesn't seem to have affected them because they're starting to pop up.

Dill - I'm not sure if I'll grow dill. I do use it a lot in cooking and I didn't harvest any for drying in the spring, so I should grow it. I sound like a broken record but I'm running out of space, though. I have a dwarf variety but the horizontal space is the concern.

Cilantro? - I'm one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap so I don't grow much of it. However, if my tomatillos bounce back from the heat or my fall tomatoes do well, it would be nice to have for salsa making. I have a few empty hanging baskets that I could rotate plantings of this among, which is what I'll likely do.

Violas and pansies - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Johnny Jump Up violas and have had seeds sitting around for 2-3 years intending to start them for fall and pulling them out too late. The same happened again - July is an insane month work-wise and the time I should be starting these seeds. However, this year I decided to try soaking some seeds to give them a jump start. It's too soon to tell if it worked. They can take up to three weeks to emerge. I did the same with pansy seeds but they were new. It will be interesting to see how the new pansy seeds perform compared to the old violas.

Snapdragon - I have three snapdragon plants that have limped through summer in a cool, mostly shady area near my porch. I have taken cuttings to start about two dozen of these. After a week, most of the cuttings are still looking healthy.

Young Swiss chard seedlings

Swiss Chard - I almost didn't grow this, but at the last minute decided that I could tuck it into some flowerbeds, especially the bright lights varieties, to bring some color if the pansy and viola seeds don't pull through my abuse.

Clover - If you have patches of clover growing as weeds in your yard, don't gasp... I bought, as in paid money for, seeds of what is commonly known as Dutch White Clover, but is now being called something else. I have an eight-foot-long, built-in, raised flowerbed along the east side of the house. Every foot of this bed gets a different type of light, from 6hrs+ to full shade. It's a pain and will possibly be removed if my husband and I can ever make up our minds. As an added bonus, two years ago field mice began nesting in the drainage areas at the base of this bed. I decided to plant clover here since clover will tolerate all the conditions and be an early spring supporter of bees. We currently lack early spring pollinator friendly plants, so this will be a solution and the clover will be contained. I also won't be heartbroken if it gets eaten by the mice.


Not frost tolerant but worth mentioning

Fall green beans setting true leaves

Green beans - They don't like the heat at all, succumbing to either the heat, spider mites or both by fireworks season. The weather rebounds to conditions they like for long enough to grow more in the fall. These "second-season" plantings are started around the same time as many frost tolerant plants. However, they will die back at the first frost. Here, that's around Halloween.

First fruit on my fall tomatoes

Tomatoes - In central Oklahoma, tomatoes stop setting new fruit in July and won't resume until the heat breaks in either late August or sometime in September. Tomatoes are so finicky that this is different in different parts of Oklahoma. There are several techniques to use for fall tomatoes. For the first time, I ripped out some of my spring-started plants - I was forced due to the worst spider mite year I've ever had - and replaced the beefsteak/slicers with fresh plants. The cherry tomatoes didn't suffer the same spider mite damage so I've limped them through the summer.


As a note, I've been sitting on this post for a few weeks. If you read "I Paused for Re-mindfulness" you know that I had some things sitting in cue that I didn't feel up to completing. After the process of refocusing my interest, I felt inspired to take another look at this one... Murphy's Law - it appears the summer heat and drought just broke with a line of severe weather.

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