Tomatoes and Marigolds for Fall

These are 10 day old marigold and tomato seedlings planted from seed and ready to be transplanted into the garden.

Now is the time to sow seeds of marigolds and tomatoes, if you want to enjoy their beauty and bounty this fall. The great thing about now is all you need is a good soil mix and some type of container. If you keep them moist, they will germinate quickly in an outdoor sunny location. The main thing to remember is that the soil cannot dry out completely if you want the seeds to germinate (I gently watered mine once a day generally in early evening). After they germinate and the true leaves appear, you have two choices. You can repot and allow them to grow bigger or transplant them to where you want them in the garden.  For many years fall marigolds have been the hallmark of the fall display at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and they are starting their seed now to set out in early fall. There are several things I think that are important in selecting the plants to grow. Be sure to pick the type and size marigold seeds you want, as there are many sizes and colors. Most folks like the mounding types for display and the tall types for cutting and enjoying indoors. As for tomatoes, I like to plant seeeds of the smaller fruit types like the romas and cherries. Just remember that we want types that have a short days to harvest number on the seed package, so we can enjoy them before a frost can kill them. Often times by planting them now, when a frost is predicted, I will harvest all the green fruits and keep them in a cool airy place and have tomatoes late into the fall.
So if you have never grown fall plants from seed, now is the time to get started.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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