October is here, and it’s an important month in the vegetable garden. Many of the same warm-season crops you planted in spring can be planted again for fall production, as well as some of the hardy cool-season crops. I encourage all vegetable growers to plant their seeds in seedling trays 4 to 6 weeks prior to transplanting in the field. It adds value to your sustainable operation and increases your yield economically.
Vegetables that may be planted from seed in August include Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Collards, Mustard, Lettuce, Swiss chard, Kale and Southern peas. Expect insect and disease problems and act quickly to prevent extensive damage. Also, watch for dry periods combined with high temperatures and water when necessary.
Transplant Production: A transplant is affected by factors such as temperature, fertilization, water, and spacing. A good transplant is one that has been grown under the best possible conditions; greenhouses or hotbeds. Usually it takes transplants five to seven weeks to get established. When transplanting to the field use a starter fertilizer to establish the roots and plant structure; always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations read the label. However it is recommended that no fertilizer be included in the mix and avoid fertilizing the seedlings until the seed leaves (cotyledons) are fully expanded and the true leaves are beginning to unfold.
Irrigating/Watering: Watering your garden in the morning allows plants surfaces to dry before night and reduce possibility of disease development
Sanitation: Flats used in the production of transplants should be new to avoid damping-off and other disease problems. If flats are to be reused, they should be thoroughly cleaned after use and completely submerged in household bleach 10% solution for 5 minutes. There are a wide variety of containers available for starting seeds for transplants, most growers start seeds either in flats or in a cell packs.
Seed Germination: Seed that is sown in flats to be pricked out at a later date should be germinated in vermiculite (horticultural grade, coarse sand size) or a plug growing mix.
Soil Fertility: Soil test your garden site at least every three years. Soil Ph. is one of the most important factors; most vegetable crops need to be in the 6.0 to 6.8 range. Preplant and side-dress fertilizers are used in the garden. Preplant fertilizer is a complete fertilizer, like 13-13-13 or 8-24-24, applies 7 to 14 days before planting. Side-dress is the addition of nitrogen fertilizer applies to the side of plants when flowering and fruit set occurs four weeks after planting. Calcium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, and potassium sulfate are some of the common nitrogen fertilizers. The additional nitrogen enhances the growth of the plant and fruit and ensures high yields.
Recommended Louisiana Plant Varieties: Mustards; Florida Broadleaf, Collards; Georgia Southern& Top Bunch; Broccoli; Premium Crop, Arcadia, and Castle dome, Cabbage; Blue Vantage, Rio Verde, and Bobcat, Brussels Sprouts; Jade Cross E, Kohlrabi; Early & White Vienna, Lettuce; Nevada, Salad Bowl,Buttercrunch, and Green Towers, Swiss Chard; Silverado, and Bright lights, Cucumbers; Dasher II, Calypso, and Thunder, Southern Peas; Top Pick Pinkeye, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Zipper Cream, and Mississippi Purple.