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  • Sowing Method: Direct
  • Plant Type: Vegetable

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Gardening Tips

Direct-Sow Basics

Dandelion Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Plant Spacing:10”-12”
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Germination Temperature:45°-60°F

Dandelion greens are easily grown in cool weather. Sow seed directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. When the Dandelion plants grow to about 2" tall, thin them to about 10" to 12" apart. A second crop may be sown in late summer or early fall. Grow Dandelion plants quickly, with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. They will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer. To harvest, cut off the whole plant at the soil level when ready! No longer an esoteric green, Dandelion greens reinvigorate traditional recipes with renewed zest and crunch. Pair Dandelion greens with Spinach, Mesclun, Arugula or Chicory in fresh salads. Or sauté them for no more than a minute in olive oil.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Endive-Escarole Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Plant Spacing:10”-12”
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Germination Temperature:45°-60°F

Endive\Escarole is easily grown in cool weather. Sow directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Endive\Escarole may also be started as transplants 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Sow thinly using sterilized seed starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. A second crop may be sown in late summer to early fall. Grow Endive\Escarole quickly with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. Most will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer. To blanch the tender centers (pale hearts) of Endive\Escarole, place a clay flower pot over the plant 2 weeks prior to harvesting. Harvest by cutting the entire head at soil level.

Blanching Chicory
In European winter markets, huge heads of Escarole and Endive (Tres Fine) are displayed with centers as blond and wild as Harpo's wig. The growers blanch the hearts by outfitting them with little hats (like upside-down Tupperware bowls) just a week prior to harvest. It is quite a comical sight to see these hatted fields. Since both of the varieties listed here are mild, self-blanching types, you can grow them bareheaded, but it is still fun to try this technique. You'll have creamy heads that are especially mild, crispy and tasty.

Go Blonde This Summer
I love the way Escarole tastes in cool weather, with just enough bitterness to be interesting, but not enough to turn you off. Grown in summer, its bitterness is more pronounced, but if you blanch it you might get away with a warm-season crop as well. In France, in wintertime, the hearts of the plants are covered with white plastic hats, secured to the ground with wires, for the last week or so of growth. The result is heads with gorgeous, tender, sweet, pale centers. Last year I tried this in summer using inverted plastic plant saucers, held in the place with Potato-sized rocks. It worked like a charm!

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Minutina Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4”
Seed Spacing:1/2”
Plant Spacing:4”-6”
Days to Germination:2-15 days
Germination Temperature:45°-70°F

Syn: Buckhorn’s Plantain. Cold-hardy Minutina can tolerate moderate frosts and be grown all winter in temperate climates. This Italian Salad Green prefers the cool, moist seasons of early spring, late fall or a mild winter, but can be grown through the summer without becoming bitter. Sow it directly into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring in full to partial sunlight. Plant the seed 1⁄4" deep and 1⁄2" apart in a garden bed high in organic matter. If direct-sown in late summer, grow it in partial shade for protection from the sun and heat. Carefully thin seedlings to 6" apart and keep them well-watered to maintain the succulence of the tender leaves. Harvest young and tender at 5" tall. Minutina will re-sprout but for the best results, sow seed successively for multiple harvests. Mildly flavored, Minutina has grass-like, serrated blades with a sweet, complex taste of nuts and salt.

Shade Tolerance
Direct-Sow Basics

Orach Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4”-1/2”
Seed Spacing:1”-2”
Row Spacing:18”-24”
Days to Germination:3-14 days
Germination Temperature:50°-65°F

Commonly known as Mountain Spinach, Orach is easy to grow and is more tolerant of hot and cold temperature swings than is Spinach. It doesn’t like to be transplanted: direct sow 1⁄4" to 1⁄2" deep in rich, well-draining soil as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring, or in late summer for late fall harvest. Keep the soil evenly moist. Once seedlings are 2" tall, thin to 6" to 18" apart to grow mature plants or just 2" apart to scissor harvest baby leaves when the plants are about 6" tall. Without incremental baby leaf harvest, Orach can grow to 4' tall with much larger leaves. It performs well in heat without bolting but produces most readily in cooler weather. The Aurora Orach Mixture yields a profusion of arrow-shaped leaves in red, gold, dark green, pink, carmine and deep purple for salads, stir-fries, soups and stews.
Direct-Sow Basics

Radicchio Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Plant Spacing:10”-12”
Days to Germination:5-12 days
Germination Temperature:45°-60°F

Radicchio is easily grown in cool weather. Sow directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. But Radicchio can also be started as transplants 5 to 8 weeks before setting out. Sow thinly using sterilized seed starter mix, cover lightly and water. Provide light, moderate warmth and good ventilation. Radicchio can be grown in the “cut and come again” method, broadcast seed and water lightly. When the leaves are 3" to 6" tall, harvest with scissors. A second crop may be sown in late summer to early fall. Grow Radicchio quickly with plenty of moisture for the most pleasing taste. They will bolt (go to seed) and taste a bit unpleasant in hot weather. Radicchio dislikes added nitrogen as it causes bolting. Amend the soil with moderate amounts of compost and a sprinkling of organic fertilizer.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Bitter Melon Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/2”
Row Spacing:36”
Plant Spacing:12”
Days to Germination:5-10 days
Germination Temperature:75°-85°F

Edible Gourds thrive in heat. Start transplants indoors 4 weeks before setting out 2 weeks after the last frost date (night temperatures must stay above 55°F). Plant 4 seeds per 4" pot or 2 seeds per peat pot in sterile starter mix. Pamper with minimum 65°F temperatures, plenty of light, air circulation and even moisture (never soggy). Harden off seedlings by gradually acclimating them to outside conditions for 1 to 2 weeks. Keep fragile seedlings untangled. Edible Gourds may also be direct sown 2 weeks after the danger of frost has passed to a sunny, well-draining, rich garden bed (minimum of 55°F overnight). Water regularly. Feed as needed with manure tea, kelp or fish emulsion. Black plastic sheeting helps warm the soil and reduces weeds. Trellis vines to keep fruit straight. Harvest 3" to 8" long when the fruit is firm, before any orange coloration. Regular picking encourages production.

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Shiso Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:18”-24”
Hill Spacing:1”-2”
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Germination Temperature: 65°-75°F

Shiso is also known as the beefsteak plant, Ji Soo, Chinese basil, the rattlesnake weed or Perilla. A gorgeous ornamental variety for kitchen gardens, it is prized in Asian cuisine. It is easy to grow from seed and can be direct-sown after the last frost date or started indoors 4 weeks before the last frost. As light aids germination, sow seed very shallowly in moist, rich, well-draining soil. Shiso will perform better in full sunlight but will tolerate and grow in virtually any light conditions from shade to full sun. Once the seedlings emerge, keep them fairly dry. When seedlings reach 1" to 2" tall, thin them to a final plant spacing of 12" apart, as Shiso does not like to be crowded. Pinch back the plants regularly to help make them bushy. To harvest, just pick the biggest, most healthy leaves. Use fresh, since they lose most of their taste when dried.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties

Direct-Sow Basics

Chinese Broccoli Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/4”-1/2”
Row Spacing:12”-24”
Seed Spacing:1”-2”
Days to Germination:5-10 days
Germination Temperature:70°-75°F

A bit frost tolerant, Kaillaan Chinese Broccoli is grown for its edible flowering stalk. It grows best in cool temperatures. Direct sow 1⁄4" to 1⁄2" deep in rich, well-draining soil in mid to late summer for late summer and fall harvest. Amend the soil as necessary with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-rotted manure. Keep the soil evenly moist, shading the seed bed until sprouts emerge. Once 2" to 4" tall (about 3 weeks after emergence), thin the seedlings to 4" to 6" apart. This is a heavy feeder, fertilize as needed. Mulch to deter weeds and retain ground moisture. For the best flavor, harvest young with thin stalks before the white flower buds have opened. Cut individual stems 6" to 8" long, allowing the plant to grow additional side shoots. Harvest in the early morning to minimize water stress. May be refrigerated up to 10 days.

Shade Tolerance
Direct-Sow Basics

Arugula Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1⁄8"-1⁄4"
Row Spacing: 12"-18”
Seed Spacing: 2"
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Germination Temperature: 45°-70°F

Salad Greens yield the tastiest and most tender leaves when grown quickly in cool weather. Sow directly as soon as the soil may be worked in the spring and/or in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the spacing on the chart above or broadcast seed in a well-dug bed in moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or well-rotted manure. A light sprinkling of soil over the seed is sufficient, tamp down lightly and water well. For larger plants, thin seedlings to 10" to 12" apart. To harvest in the “cut and come again” method, you don’t need to thin them out. Just give them a haircut when they are 3" to 4" tall. Weed scrupulously and keep soil evenly moist. Feed with kelp or fish emulsion. Make successive sowings at 2 week intervals until hot summer weather sets in for a steady crop. Hot weather causes bolting and a bitter taste!

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

Shade Tolerance
Direct-Sow Basics

Asian Greens Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”-1/2"
Row Spacing: 12”
Seed Spacing:2”-3”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 70°-75°F

Our versatile, easy and popular Asian Greens thrive in cool temperatures, tolerating mild frost. Sow when the danger of heavy frost has passed. Asian Greens appreciate soil with a moderate amount of organic matter dug in. Keep the soil evenly moist for a mild, sweet taste. When growing individuals, thin them to 8" to 10" apart. For ‘baby leaf’ harvesting, lightly broadcast seed, sprinkle with soil and water lightly. As the plants grow to about 3" tall, give them a “haircut” for salads and stir-fries. Feed regularly to enjoy one or two more cuttings from the initial sowing. In cool summer areas, seed at 10 to 14 day intervals, ensuring a steady harvest of fresh, vitamin-rich greens. Hot weather causes hot and/or bitter flavor and bolting. Your last sowing may be toward the end of summer for fall harvest. Protect with shade cloth at the hottest part of summer days if necessary.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Mache Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Seed Spacing:2””
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Germination Temperature:45°-70°F

Salad Greens yield the tastiest and most tender leaves when grown quickly in cool weather. Sow directly as soon as the soil may be worked in the spring and/or in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the spacing on the chart above or broadcast seed in a well-dug bed in moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or well-rotted manure. A light sprinkling of soil over the seed is sufficient, tamp down lightly and water well. For larger plants, thin seedlings to 10" to 12" apart. To harvest in the “cut and come again” method, you don’t need to thin them out. Just give them a haircut when they are 3" to 4" tall. Weed scrupulously and keep soil evenly moist. Feed with kelp or fish emulsion. Make successive sowings at 2 week intervals until hot summer weather sets in for a steady crop. Hot weather causes bolting and a bitter taste!

Shade Tolerance

Hail to the Hardy Greens
Most garden greens can hardly wait for cool weather to come. They perk up and sweeten up as the mugginess of August fades away. Crops such as Spinach, Arugula, Claytonia and Mâche, if protected by a cold frame or simple unheated greenhouse, survive the winter in cold climates, to be cut and re-cut for a continuous harvest. Sow them in September in the north, October in warmer parts of the country. They do best hunkering down, close to the earth. Lettuce and Endive over-winter best when cut at baby leaf size rather than full-sized heads.

Kale, Collards and Brussels Sprouts fare better if grown to full size and left outdoors to soldier on as long as they can, since they do not re-grow if cut back in winter. We can often harvest them for our Christmas table, even in snowy Maine.

Winter Treat
Mache is great crop for a winter cold frame because it is so compact. It can be sown in rows as close as 2” apart, or just broadcast in patches, then thinned. Sow a succession of plantings throughout the fall. To harvest, slide a small, serrated kitchen knife just under the soil surface so that the heads can be used whole in salads. Swish them thoroughly in water before eating to dislodge particles of soil and other debris.
Direct-Sow Basics

Pak choi Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: ¼”-1/2"
Row Spacing: 12”
Seed Spacing:2”-3”
Days to Germination: 5-10 days
Germination Temperature: 70°-75°F

Our versatile, easy and popular Asian Greens thrive in cool temperatures, tolerating mild frost. Sow when the danger of heavy frost has passed. Asian Greens appreciate soil with a moderate amount of organic matter dug in. Keep the soil evenly moist for a mild, sweet taste. When growing individuals, thin them to 8" to 10" apart. For ‘baby leaf’ harvesting, lightly broadcast seed, sprinkle with soil and water lightly. As the plants grow to about 3" tall, give them a “haircut” for salads and stir-fries. Feed regularly to enjoy one or two more cuttings from the initial sowing. In cool summer areas, seed at 10 to 14 day intervals, ensuring a steady harvest of fresh, vitamin-rich greens. Hot weather causes hot and/or bitter flavor and bolting. Your last sowing may be toward the end of summer for fall harvest. Protect with shade cloth at the hottest part of summer days if necessary.

Shade Tolerance

Deer Resistant Seed Varieties
Direct-Sow Basics

Salad Greens Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
:1/8”-1/4”
Row Spacing:12”-18”
Seed Spacing:2””
Days to Germination: 5-14 days
Germination Temperature:45°-70°F

Salad Greens yield the tastiest and most tender leaves when grown quickly in cool weather. Sow directly as soon as the soil may be worked in the spring and/or in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first fall frost. Follow the spacing on the chart above or broadcast seed in a well-dug bed in moderately fertile soil amended with compost and/or well-rotted manure. A light sprinkling of soil over the seed is sufficient, tamp down lightly and water well. For larger plants, thin seedlings to 10" to 12" apart. To harvest in the “cut and come again” method, you don’t need to thin them out. Just give them a haircut when they are 3" to 4" tall. Weed scrupulously and keep soil evenly moist. Feed with kelp or fish emulsion. Make successive sowings at 2 week intervals until hot summer weather sets in for a steady crop. Hot weather causes bolting and a bitter taste!

Shade Tolerance

Cooking Tip: Flavor Enhancer
We eat salad nearly every day in our house, so I¹m always looking for a way to vary the mix and give it some zing. I often turn to Sorrel, a perennial crop that is always in leaf--even in winter if I give it the protection of a cold frame or greenhouse. I pick a small handful of leaves, then make a “chiffonade” by stacking them in a neat pile, then slicing them thinly into ribbons with a sharp knife. Instant lemony tang!