We’re lucky to live in an area with a mild climate. Home vegetable gardeners in Fulton County have lots of great choices for growing their own vegetables in the fall. Many of the so-called super-foods such as kale, collards and spinach are ideal cool season vegetables for September planting. Just follow these simple suggestions and you can have a productive garden with healthful and tasty veggies for the months to come.
Preparation is key – If you already have a summer garden, now is the time to clean out the old plants and prepare the soil. Work in some compost, perhaps incorporating chopped up summer plants, along with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10). Follow the label instruction. If you haven’t had a soil test recently, consider taking a soil sample to the Fulton County Cooperative Extension office at the North Fulton Service Center before doing any fertilization. For $8, you will receive easy-to-interpret pH and nutrient addition recommendations via email within two weeks.
Seedlings or Seeds? – Ideally, gardeners should start seeds for broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, turnips and beets in August. If you haven’t already started seeds by now, many vegetables can be purchased as seedlings from garden centers. These will be ready to transplant into your prepared bed in September. Some plants such as spinach, lettuce and radishes are great to start as seeds right in your garden plot in September. No need to transplant.
Care and keeping of young veggies – Be sure to keep young seedlings watered while they are getting established and watch out for weeds which are growing rampant this time of year. Mulch applied between the rows will inhibit weed growth and help keep in moisture.
A balancing act – Getting fall vegetable crops established can be a balancing act. On the one hand, we need to start cool-weather plants early enough to allow them to get established before the cold weather sets in. Conversely, unseasonably warm weather lasting well into fall can subject new seedlings to diseases and insects, which flourish in the warm temperatures. With this in mind, it’s important to keep a close eye out for any early signs of pests or disease. Act quickly to rid your garden of these pests before they take over.
For more information on fall vegetable gardening, including disease and pest control, search the UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Science publications website at caes.uga.edu/publications. You’ll find a plenty of specific “How To’s” for successful fall vegetable gardening.
Leaf Tip of the Week: Watering vegetable gardens early in the morning allows foliage to dry more quickly and helps prevent disease.
Rolando Orellana is the UGA/Fulton County Cooperative Extension Agent for north Fulton County. For answers to your specific gardening questions call the North Fulton Extension office at (404) 613-7670.