Starting seeds for the fall garden is an easy task! You can start them indoors or outdoors toward the end of July to have a headstart on your crop, and they will be ready just in time if you are still harvesting summer crops.
Starting Seeds for Your Fall Garden: Gardening Tips
What is the best time to start seeds for a fall garden?
When to start your seeds will be based on your grow zone. But, despite it being in the middle of the Summer, for most areas of the country, July through September are the months you’ll want to start your fall seeds to transplant out in your garden 6-8 weeks later.
You can use the planting guide on the Farmer’s Almanac to see when exactly you should start your seeds for your Fall garden.
I live in Wisconsin, Zone 5, which stretches from coastal shores to the plains of the midwest with widely varying environments. One thing is consistent, though, with cold winters and short growing seasons. The average minimum temperature in Zone 5 is -20 to -10 degrees F. I start my fall garden seeds the first weekend in July, and then I transplant them to my raised garden bed when my seedlings are about 4 inches tall.
The Benefits of Starting Your Own Seedings vs. Buying from a Store
There are many benefits for starting your own vegetable seedlings vs. buying from a store. First, you can start plants at the time of year that is best for your garden. In my opinion, the big box stores put out seedlings way too early for the seasons, and sometimes, if you get an unexpected frost (for your Spring garden), they will die.
Second, seeds are usually cheaper to purchase than small plants and will produce delicious vegetables like heirloom tomatoes or hardy squash varieties.
Tips on How to Start Your Fall Garden Seeds
Container for Starting Seeds
When choosing a container, it’s important not only to provide drainage but also plenty of room for roots to spread out and grow without being cramped.
I like to use plastic seed starting trays. I re-use the ones I used earlier in the year for my Summer garden seedlings. You can find seed starting trays on Amazon, Home Depot, or garden center. Also, you can find plenty of seed starting trays HERE.
If you want to save some money, you can cut-in-half plastic milk jugs also make great containers because they are inexpensive and offer enough space for plant growth while keeping costs low if you want to reuse them later.
You can also use cardboard egg cartons or make little planters out of newspaper to start your seeds. The only downside of egg cartons is that the seedlings’ roots will take over the egg carton cells rather quickly, so you will need to move them faster than trays with deeper cells.
Light for Starting Seeds
The most important thing when starting your seedlings is a good source of light. Suppose you are starting your seeds indoors, a bright south-facing windowsill with fluorescent lights on a timer. Make sure to rotate your seedlings as they grow to keep them from leaning over.
Fluorescent lights or LEDs are your best bet. I use Haus Bright full-spectrum lights. I have my lights clamped them from above so that the light is spread evenly over all of our seedlings.
If you are starting your seeds outdoors, make sure they receive at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. I have my seedling trays on a table outside in our backyard next to our raised garden bed.
Soil for Starting Seeds
The second most important thing to start your seeds is a soil mix. You can find high-quality, organic seed starting mixes at garden centers and nurseries, which are better for the environment than packaged peat moss-based potting soils.
I like to mix my soil with material from our backyard compost pile mixed and mix with some perlite to keep the soil fluffy and aerated.
These are the soil ingredients I use:
- The soil I like to buy for starting my seeds: found on Amazon or at Home Depot.
- Perlite I like to use for all of my indoor and outdoor planting (I’ve found that Home Depot has the best pricing for perlite, and you can do curbside pickup if you want)
- I have a post about composting that you may want to read when starting your own seeds.
Fertilizer for Starting Seeds
Fish Emulsion fertilizer is the best fertilizer for starting seeds because it contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to help your plants grow healthy and strong. Plus! It is all-natural, which means no nasty chemicals! So go ahead, keep on reading to see why it is my favorite houseplant fertilizer and seed starting fertilizer!
Vegetables That Grow Well in Fall Gardens
- Bush beans
- Summer Squash
- Swiss Chard
Where can I find more information about gardening tips or starting seeds for my fall garden?
- The Farmer’s Almanac is a great resource for gardening
- I love to visit Gardeners.com for specific garden questions I have
- I have several garden posts on House Fur specifically geared for beginner gardeners