Starting fall vegetable transplants

County Agent’s Corner



This time of year is perfect for starting your fall vegetable garden transplants. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are just a few of the vegetables typically grown in a fall garden, and they do great when planted as transplants.

With spring and summer vegetable varieties, one has to protect transplants from cool temperatures, either in a greenhouse or similar structure. Additionally, supplemental heat is required. However, with fall varieties, no structure or heat is necessary. Fall varieties can be started and finished outside.

Media: For transplant success, a soilless mixture is imperative, and many good mixes are available commercially. One point to mention: quality mixes will cost more, but are definitely worth the investment. Cheaper mixes tend to drain too fast and contain large particles of amendment that are not suitable for seedling germination and growth. If you would like to take the DIY approach, mix equal parts by volume of sterile potting soil, vermiculite, and moistened sphagnum peat moss.

Container: For best results and reduced amount of transplant shock, seeds should be planted in individual containers, such as cell packs, peat cups, jiffy peat pellets, or paper cups. No matter the container of choice, each should be clean and disease-free, with holes that allow proper drainage.

Planting: Generally, seeds should be covered just enough so they are no longer visible.

Moisture: Plants should be checked every day to make sure the media is moist, but not soggy.

After the seedlings have emerged, the inclusion of a water soluble fertilizer prepared according to the label recommendations is needed for successful transplant growth. Also, be sure to protect young seedlings from the sun for the first few days. When the transplants are four to six weeks old, they will be ready for the garden.

Not sure which varieties are best suited for Alabama? Check out the following tried and true selections for our region.

• Broccoli – DeCicco, Packman, Premium Crop, Green Duke, Emperor

• Cabbage – Round Dutch, Early Jersey Wakefield, Red Express, Red Rookie

• Cauliflower – Early Snowball “A”, Violet Queen, Snowcrown

Good luck and happy gardening!

This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. Email questions to O’Rear at or call 205-612-9524. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer.