Daniel Gill, Merrill, Thomas A. | 10/4/2004 4:24:12 AM
For Release On Or After 08/15/03
While cool-season planting begins in earnest next month, some of the more heat tolerant cool-season vegetables, such as the cole crops, can be planted into the garden now.
And since our first frosts generally don't arrive until late November or early December, we also can plant warm-season vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers for fall production.
Visit area nurseries to find out what vegetable transplants and seeds they have available to plant.
Of course, don't forget to prepare beds properly before planting this next set of crops.
Clear the site of all weeds or old, finished vegetable plants. Then turn the soil with a shovel, fork or tiller to a depth of at least 8 inches, and spread a 2-inch to 4-inch layer of organic matter over the tilled soil B leaves, grass clippings, aged manure or compost can be used. This helps maintain the organic matter in the soil, which encourages strong, healthy root systems, improves drainage, retains moisture, provides nutrients and promotes vigorous plant growth.
As another step in preparation, fertilizer can be sprinkled on top of the organic matter. Just apply an all-purpose fertilizer following package directions.
Gardeners also should consider having their soil tested through their local LSU AgCenter Extension office to determine the pH (acidity or alkalinity) and amount of calcium in their soil. Gardeners with acid soil generally need to add dolomitic lime to raise the pH level and to add calcium and magnesium to their soil.
Mix the organic matter and fertilizer thoroughly into the soil. Turn the soil by digging with a shovel, garden fork or a tiller until the added materials are evenly distributed in the soil. If you are not gardening in raised beds, form the soil into raised rows about 8 inches high and 2 feet wide, with narrow walkways between them.
If you are gardening in containers, use a quality potting mix, and fertilize with balanced soluble or slow release fertilizers used according to label directions.
Insects and diseases have had all summer to build up their populations, and insects such as whiteflies, stink bugs, aphids and caterpillars commonly are seen this time of year. Since insect and disease pressure often is greater in the fall than in the spring, watch plants carefully for problems and use appropriate control measures promptly when needed.
As for some of the things you can plant, now is the time to plant tomato and bell pepper transplants for fall production.
Of course, if your pepper plants from the spring are still in reasonably good shape, they often will produce an excellent fall crop once the weather begins to cool down. (This also goes for eggplants.) Keep them well fertilized and protected from insects and diseases.
Spring planted tomato plants rarely survive the summer in decent shape, and new transplants are generally used for the fall crop. Tomato varieties that produce well in the fall include Heatwave, Hawaiian Hybrid, Bingo, Whirlaway, Celebrity and Solar Set. Plant several varieties and see which you like best.
Fall snap beans often produce better than those planted in spring. This is because temperatures tend to be getting lower and lower about the time the fall snap beans come into production – while, in the spring, the weather gets increasingly hotter as the beans produce their crop.
Snap beans also are one of the easiest and most reliable vegetable, and they are especially appropriate for children's gardens. Wait until late August or early September to plant, so your beans will come into bloom after the weather has begun to turn cooler, and choose bush varieties. Bush lima beans may also be planted.
Cole crops to be planted this month from seeds or transplants include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, rape and collards. Cole is the Old English word for cabbage, and these days it is used to refer to this group of closely related vegetables – although we still use the word when we call cabbage salad coleslaw.
Broccoli is one of the best and easiest to grow of the group. Transplants may be planted now through early October. Seeds can be planted now through early September, and they may be planted into pots or flats and transplanted into the garden or direct seeded into the garden where they will grow. Plant transplants 12 inches to 18 inches apart in well-prepared beds. The closer spacing will produce smaller heads but more total production.
Here's a list of the vegetables that can be planted into the garden this month: Plant transplants of tomato, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Plant seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, turnips, squash, bush lima beans and bush snap beans (plant these in late August) and Swiss chard. Plant sets (small bulbs) of shallots and bunching onions. Plant small whole Irish potatoes saved from the spring crop.
Contact your parish LSU AgCenter Extension office to receive a copy of their Vegetable Planting Guide, a free publication that will provide you with information on the year-round planting dates for many vegetables. Or visit the Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com.
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.