Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:55 PM
It was wonderful to enjoy the unseasonable cool fronts that came through our state in August, although, as we knew it would, the heat and humidity returned.
In September we should see even more relief from the heat. Still, daytime highs can continue to reach the 90s well into October.
During this transition period, warm-season and cool-season vegetables rub elbows in the garden. The warm-season vegetables, such as snap beans, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, will mostly finish up in November or early December as weather becomes colder. And cool-season vegetables and herbs are planted into the garden starting this month.
Vegetable and herb gardening seasons can be roughly divided into the cool season and the warm season. Vegetable gardeners must be especially attuned to the seasons and carefully observe the proper planting times for vegetables. Planting times relate to a variety of factors, but temperature is a major consideration.
Warm-season vegetables cannot withstand frost without significant injury or death. They are grown from about March through November, divided up into the spring planting season, the summer planting season and the fall planting season. Many spring-planted vegetables also could have been planted again in the past month for fall production.
Cool-season vegetables are grown roughly from September to May. They need lower temperatures to perform their best and are able to tolerate the below-freezing temperatures of winter cool season.
As we move into the cool season, root crops such as carrot, radish and turnip are an important part of the garden. Root crops are always direct seeded – never transplanted. The tiny root first produced by the seed eventually develops into the edible root. It is easily damaged when the seedling is young, and this damage will cause a deformed, poor quality final product.
Plant bush snap beans the first week in September, so they will have time to produce a good crop before cold weather. Bush varieties produce faster and concentrate their harvest in a shorter period than pole beans, making them preferred for fall planting.
Plant seeds of bulbing onions, bunching onions and leeks this month. Sets (small bulbs) of bunching onions and shallots also may be planted this month, but do not plant sets of bulbing onions until early December. Onions, shallots, leeks and garlic (garlic bulbs are planted next month) are long-term residents in the cool-season vegetable garden and will not be ready to harvest until late May or early June of next year.
In addition to that work with vegetables, there also is work to be done in the herb garden. Regularly remove the flower spikes of basil to encourage plants to continue to produce leaves. Ultimately, the plants will begin to wind down. But basil transplants could still be planted into the garden now for a late crop.
Herbs such as sage, lavender, thyme and catnip should begin to revive as the weather gets cooler. Remove any dead parts and fertilize lightly to encourage new growth. Generously harvest herbs that have grown vigorously during the summer. Dry or freeze the extra harvest or share it with friends.
This month can be hot and dry, and with new plantings going in, you should pay careful attention to the water needs of the garden.
Newly planted transplants and seed beds are especially vulnerable to drought conditions and may need frequent (even daily) irrigation. As seeds come up and transplants become established, water deeply and less frequently to encourage a deep root system.
High population levels of insects are around now, so be vigilant and treat problems promptly. If a crop is about to finish up, such as okra is now, you generally should not be as concerned about controlling pests on it as a vegetable crop that has been planted more recently.
Caterpillars can be particularly troublesome in the fall garden. Regular applications of Bt will keep their damage to a minimum. Control white flies and aphids with Ultra Fine Oil.
The LSU AgCenter’s Vegetable Planting Guide is an excellent reference, which includes year round planting dates for vegetables. Contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office for a free copy, or view it online at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Communications/
Vegetables that can be planted this month include beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, English and snow peas, Irish potatoes (plant small, whole potatoes saved from the spring crop), kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, rutabagas, shallots (plant sets), snap beans, Swiss chard and turnips.
Herbs to plant include rosemary, parsley, chervil, sage, thyme, fennel, oregano, French tarragon, chives, garlic chives, borage, burnet, cilantro, mints, lemon balm, lavender, catnip and dill.
Get It Growing is a weekly feature on home lawn and garden topics prepared by experts in the LSU AgCenter. For more information on such topics, contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office or visit our Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. A wide range of publications and a variety of other resources are available.