Fall vegetable planting season begins this month. There are many vegetables that can be direct seeded and transplanted into raised beds, patio containers, ground beds and even incorporated into the landscape.
Many popular and nutritious cool season vegetables and herbs can be planted mid-August to mid-October. They include snap beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, chives, collards, dill, fennel, kohlrabi, lemon balm, lettuce, mustard, onion, leeks, oregano, parsley, English peas, Irish potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, rosemary, shallots, and turnips. Wait to plant garlic and spinach until October and November.
Broccoli and cauliflower can be direct-seeded now through September or transplanted through early September. It takes four to six weeks to produce transplants from seed. In general, broccoli and cauliflower will require 5 to 6 pounds (or pints) of a complete fertilizer such as 8-24-24 or 13-13-13 per 100 feet of row. These crops, especially cauliflower, require fast, continuous growth for proper head development. Keep them well watered and fertilized. Side-dress plants with ¾ pound (1 ½ cups) of ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row three to four weeks after transplanting and again two weeks after that. Varieties that will produce in about 60 days from transplanting reduce the chance of cold-weather damage. Recommended varieties of broccoli are: Arcadia, Gypsy, Diplomat and Packman. Cauliflower: Majestic, Candid Charm, Cumberland, Snow Crown and Freedom.
Late August through early September is the best time to plant snap beans. Normally 50 to 55 days are required from planting until harvest. Don’t let beans suffer from drought. Good varieties are Provider, Bluelake 274, Roma II, Derby, Bronco, Royal Burgundy, Green Crop, Strike and Caprice. For a yellow wax bean, choose Golden Rod Wax. Bush beans usually will produce more successfully than pole beans during the fall because of their earlier maturity.
Plant small whole Irish potatoes saved from the spring crop from late August to early September. Good soil moisture is essential. The seed potatoes may not sprout readily after planting because of a physiological rest period of about 90 days they have to go through after harvesting during the spring. After this rest period is satisfied, the tubers should sprout. Fall yields are lower than spring yields. Use the smaller potatoes (that you harvested) for seed pieces.
Plant cabbage seed now through September. Fertilize the same as broccoli and cauliflower. Space cabbage, cauliflower and Chinese cabbage about 12 to 14 inches apart and broccoli 6 to 12 inches apart. Double drills (two lines of plants spaced 10-12 inches apart on a single row) will help maximize yield. Try Rio Verde for late plantings. Recommended early maturity varieties include Platinum, Dynasty, Gold Dynasty and Stonehead. Maturing a little later are Rio Verde, Solid Blue 780, Red Dynasty, Emblem, Blue Dynasty, Thunderhead Royal Vantage, Silver Dynasty, Blue Thunder, Cheers, Vantage Point, Savoy Ace and Savoy King.
Begin planting greens – mustards, turnips and collards – during August. Keep the soil moist to ensure a good stand. Try some of the white turnips like White Lady and Tokyo Cross for roots and Seven Top, AllTop, Topper and Southern Green for greens. Also good are Just Right, Royal Crown, Purple Top WG and Red Giant.
Dry sets of shallots can be planted from August to April. About 50 to 60 days after planting, tops will be ready to harvest.
Head lettuce can be grown in Louisiana. A common mistake is planting the seed too deep. Lettuce seed require light for germination, so scatter the seed on the row and very lightly rake it into the soil. Plant leaf lettuce during September. Keep the soil moist until the seeds have germinated and are well established. Head types are tougher to grow. Keep lettuce growing actively to keep it from becoming bitter. Recommended varieties of head lettuce are Summertime, Mighty Joe, Ithaca, Mavrick and Great Lakes 659. For leaf lettuce, try Slobolt, Red Salad Bowl, Grand Rapids, Red Fire, Tango, Red Sails, Salad Bowl, Sunset, Simpson or Elite. The recommended romaine lettuce varieties are Parris Island, Ideal, Green Forest and Green Towers. For butterhead or bibb lettuce, try Buttercrunch, Ermosa, Esmerelda, Nancy or Oak Leaf. And for batavia types (leaf lettuce with a unique flavor), try Nevada or Sierra.