Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for September 18, 2017
The fall equinox is the date when we have approximately the same amount of daylight as we have darkness. It occurs this year on September 22nd and it is generally described as the first day of fall.
You have probably noticed that the days are getting shorter and the sun has been gradually moving toward the southern sky. Nature observes these signs as a reminder to prepare for winter. They know that as the days get short, animals must store up winter supplies and plants need to store energy before going into winter dormancy.
Even grasses know that winter is on the way and have slowed their growth. This time of the year grasses are storing energy in their rhizomes and stolons that can be used to initiate new growth during greenup next spring.
September is the ideal time to “winterize” your lawn to help it prepare for winter. Additional potash will help to reduce winter kill and also increase resistance to diseases. In the southern states the best way to winterize is by using the pure form of potash which is sold as Muriate of Potash . Muriate of potash is a fertilizer with an analysis of 0-0-60. Apply muriate of potash to a dry lawn at the rate of 2 pounds per 1000 ft² and then water it in. Ideally, you should do this by the end of September while grass is still actively growing. Once the night time temperatures start to cool, growth will slow down and uptake of nutrients is reduced.
You will see commercial fertilizers with the name “Winterizer” on the bag. Many of these products are high in nitrogen and they are not designed to be used on southern grasses. Nitrogen applied this late in the growing season will stimulate growth and make grasses more vulnerable to winter kill.
September starts fall gardening, but it is still warm. Greens are a good place to start. You can plant mustard green, turnips, collards and kale now. Just remember that you are planting a very small seed so do not bury it. Think about lightly covering seed with one-eighth inch of soil. Next, it is hard to put out the right amount of seed. I would mix seed with sand for easy distribution and then thin the plants down to size after they germinate. For mustard you need a spacing of 1-2 inches between plants, turnips need 2-6 inches and 6-12 inches is needed for collards and kale.
Florida Broadleaf is an old fashion variety of mustard that is still recommended and popular today. Also recommended are Tendergreen , Red Giant and Golden Fills. Green Wave is a recommended curly leaf mustard green variety.
Turnips are popular and you can eat either tops, roots or both. Purple Top is the old standard for root production but also recommended are Just Right, Tokyo Cross and White Lady. Recommended turnip varieties that excel in green production (tops) would include Alamo and Seven Tops.
Recommended collard green varieties are Blue Max, Champion, Top Bunch and Top Pick.
Kale is one of the super foods these days with lots of interest. I see kale used in salads, to make chips, and even put in smoothies. Recommended kale varieties would be Blue Yates and Blue Night. Red-Bor kale is recommended for planting in the landscape and is also edible. For more information on these or related topics, contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.