Hot weather makes gardening less enjoyable than spring time gardening however late planted summer veggies can still produce a good crop before frost if you don’t delay. Now is also the time to establish seedlings of fall vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and fall greens.
However, you will need to wait a few weeks to purchase transplants of cool season vegetables to stick in the ground.
Start your late garden by removing summer crop residue. Take out the old tomato cages, remove the bean poles or trellises, and pull up plants that have died or stopped producing. Deep till or turn the area to be planted. If you want to replant summer vegetables look closely at the days to maturity on the seed packet. Most bush beans take 53 to 60 days from planting to maturity while squash ranges from 48 – 60 days. You will not have enough frost free days left to plant cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, okra, watermelon or tomato seed. I lost a late crop of lima beans planted late last summer because I did not look at the seed packet to see how many days were needed for the plants to mature.
Our average first frost date in the fall for this area is roughly November 10. According to the weather station at the J. Phil Campbell USDA Natural Resources Conservation Center in Watkinsville (http:// www.georgiaweather.net) the earliest first frost in recent history came on September 24, 1994 and our latest first frost came on December 18, 1998. So the date can vary by as much as a month.
Tired of beans and other warm season vegetables? Now is a good time to start seedlings for fall vegetables. Larger growing fall vegetables like beets, broccoli, cabbage, or collards can be planted in peat pots or direct seeded in the soil and thinned later on. Make sure you have 2 -3 successive plantings (a week apart) when moved to their final site. This will prevent having 100 broccoli heads or 25 cabbages ripe during the same week. Most greens are direct seeded into beds. Kale, mustard and turnip greens should be planted from August 15 – September 15 for best success. Instead of making massive beds that you have to walk through to harvest, plant several rows that are 24 – 30 inches wide. Wait until August 25 to plant green onions, lettuce, radish, and spinach.
Late season gardens do have more pest problems than early season gardens. So scout your young plants often for insects and diseases. Good gardening practices make stronger plants that tend to be less susceptible to diseases. Water early in the morning and only when needed.
It is important to space seedlings properly to allow quick drying of foliage and to avoid stunting due to overcrowding. Inspect the underside of leaves for one common fall pest, aphids. If aphids are found treat the underside of the plant with insecticidal soap and wash the leaves thoroughly before consuming.
Though the recent heat wave has been unbearable, a plate full of fresh collard greens, home grown peas and cornbread this fall will help fade the memory of the heat. That is until you slosh on some pepper sauce made from this year’s abundant crop of jalapenos.
Britt West is the extension agent for Barrow County. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.