In this article:
|Growing Beans in the Fall|
|Utilizing a Rain Gauge|
|Controlling Cool Season Lawn Weeds|
We are lucky to have an extremely long fruit and vegetable growing season in Louisiana. Many of the same plants you grow in your spring vegetable garden can be planted in the late summer for a fall crop. Beans make an excellent fall crop and take around 48-55 days to mature. If you plant in late August, you should pick your first beans by mid-October and can continue to pick beans until the first frost.
Snap beans, southern peas, English peas, and butter beans can all be grown in the fall, but you may have trouble finding seeds available this late in the year. Talk to your local garden center and see what they have left. If you cannot find seeds locally, try a mail order company. Next year, purchase enough bean seeds in the spring to allow for a fall crop.
Beans are in the legume family and have the unique ability to fix their own nitrogen in the soil; therefore, you should not apply much nitrogen fertilizer to beans. Too much nitrogen in the soil will negatively affect bean production. The Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide recommends 2-5 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100-foot row, or 300 square feet.
Chamberbitter (Phyllanthus urinaria) is a nasty little weed that I have been fighting all summer. Chamberbitter looks like a miniature mimosa tree growing in your flowerbed or lawn. The plant grows to about 2 feet tall and produces thousands of seeds each year. The flowers and seeds of chamberbitter are located along the stem on the underside of the branches. Chamberbitter is very hard to control because there are not many homeowner pre-emergent herbicides that work on it.
Do not let the plant go to seed. Kill it by hand removal or by spot treating with glyphosate (Round Up, Killzall). Glyphosate will kill your desirable plants if it touches their leaves or stem so be sure to protect them. I created a funnel for my sprayer with an old 2-liter bottle for spot treating weeds. You can also apply glyphosate with a paint brush or use the cotton glove method. With the cotton glove method, wear a cotton glove on top of a hospital glove, dip the glove in the solution, then wipe the undesirable weeds with your glove. Follow the label directions when mixing the glyphosate solution.
When I was growing up, I remember my dad faithfully checking his rain gauge and comparing rainfall totals with his friends and family. As a kid I thought that was such an “old man” thing to do but twenty years later I find myself checking my own rain gauge almost every day. I have even caught myself comparing rainfall totals with my dad on the phone.
I usually advise people to make sure their vegetable garden gets 1-2 inches of water per week, including rain. The easiest way to keep up with rainfall is with a rain gauge. There are several types of rain gauges on the market. I prefer one with giant numbers so I can read it from my porch, but there are plenty of decorative options available. There are some nice electronic weather stations available that will monitor temperature, wind, humidity, and rain.
Keeping records of your rainfall totals is important. It will not do you any good to have a rain gauge if you cannot remember what was in it. I have tried multiple record keeping methods and the easiest thing I have found is to keep a rainfall note in my cell phone note pad application. This works well if you keep your cell phone in your pocket wherever you go. You will always have the information available with you, whether it is for gardening purposes, or for sharing with friends.
Cool season weeds germinate and begin growing during the winter in Louisiana. Burweed (stickers), annual bluegrass, Carolina geranium, chickweed, henbit, and white clover are all cool season weeds. The best time to control these weeds is in fall before the weed seeds start germinating. Herbicides with a residual effect will kill existing weeds and serve as a pre-emergent that will prevent weed seeds from germinating. I recommend a multi-step approach for cool season weed control. In early November apply atrazine to your lawn. Three days later, apply a Trimec-type herbicide (Weed B Gon, Weed Free Zone, Trimec). Apply this same herbicide regimen again in early February.
February is also a good time to think about pre-emergent control of summer weeds. I always recommend that you apply a product containing dithiopyr (Hi Yield with Dimension) or pendimethalin (Scotts Haltz) around Valentine’s Day to prevent crabgrass and other summer weeds. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The Leaflet is a newsletter for horticulturists. It is published three times per year. To subscribe to this publication please email Jessie Hoover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessie Hoover is a County Agent with the LSU AgCenter covering horticulture in East Feliciana, West Feliciana, St. Helena, and Tangipahoa parishes. For more information on these or related topics contact Jessie at 225-683-3101 or visit the LSU AgCenter website.