When it comes to growing food, timing is everything.

In Spring, timing crops is fairly easy.  The days are getting longer and warmer so plants naturally want to grow.

Fall is much trickier in North Carolina.  You have to expect some failures.  But it’s well worth the effort if I can have collards, kale, arugula, chard, turnip greens, cabbage and fresh herbs until early spring.

I use  3 kinds of plants in my fall garden:

Store-bought transplants:  Big and strong, these nursery seedlings are pretty much a sure thing.  They typically over winter in my garden and give me delicious fresh greens in the spring. If you want guaranteed success, put in nursery-grown transplants NOW.  (And use a good fertilizer)

Home-grown transplants:  I have greater selection if I buy mail order seeds and start my own transplants.  For some reason, my home-grown clumps are never as hardy as their nursery-grown counterparts.  Still I’m hoping these plants will grow FAST before cold weather sets in.   My chances are fairly good–maybe 60/40 or a little higher.

My seedlings are tiny compared to transplants in the background

Direct sown seed:  It will take some luck for a good crop here.   I have yet to get the timing exactly right for direct-sown seeds in the fall.   Still the garden is an experiment and seeds are cheap.  I’m always testing what I can do at different times of year, like the August-sown beans below.   Success!!