The rains and lower temperatures of recent days have likely given some people thoughts of returning to the garden. It so happens that it’s time to think about planting fall vegetables.
You still have time to plant a last round of a few fast-maturing warm-season vegetables so that they can produce before the first freeze. Cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, and bush snap beans can be planted until mid-September. (Pole snap beans take a little longer to produce than bush beans do, so it’s recommended that they be planted by the end of August.)
While white (“Irish”) potatoes are considered a cool-season crop rather than a warm-season one, you can plant them between August and mid-September for a fall harvest.
Many of our cool-season vegetables can be planted in September and October. These include cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip), radish, beets, carrots, lettuce, shallots, garlic, and green (“English”), sugar snap, and snow peas. Some of these can also be planted later in the fall.
If you want to give the garden a rest (and take a rest yourself), you might consider planting a fall cover crop. Cover crops can be used to build up soil organic matter, take nitrogen from the air and put it in the soil (in the case of plants in the bean family, or legumes), prevent loss of nutrients from the soil during the off-season (after adding compost or manure to the garden, for example), suppress weed growth, and prevent erosion. The first half of October is a time when many cool-season cover crop species – such as cereal rye, annual ryegrass, wheat, oats, hairy vetch, and crimson clover – can be planted.
Let me know if you have questions.
Dr. Mary Helen Ferguson is an Extension Agent with the LSU AgCenter, with horticulture responsibilities in Washington and Tangipahoa Parishes. Contact Mary Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 985-277-1850 (Hammond) or 985-839-7855 (Franklinton).