For gardeners who enjoy producing home grown vegetables, fall is the ideal time of year for vegetable gardening. Many people think of gardening in the spring because of the warm weather, but more often than not, it actually is easier to grow vegetables in Louisiana during the fall months.
That’s because insect and disease pressure decrease when temperatures are cooler. That’s not to say you will not encounter a few insect or disease problems as they don’t just vanish, but you are sure to spend more time harvesting and less time squishing and spraying during the fall growing season.
Besides the obvious advantage to reduced pest problems from insects and diseases, additional advantages to growing a fall vegetable garden include: gardening outdoors in cooler weather, less watering due to more frequent rains occurring; the opportunity to choose and grow a larger diversity of vegetables than can be grown in the spring; and the enhanced flavor that is typical to cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Whether growing your crops in the ground, in raised beds, or in containers, cool season vegetables will perform well with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, good drainage and proper nutrition. An 8-8-8 fertilizer (8% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 8% potassium) will supply the necessary nutrients for production. For in ground planting apply 1 and 1/2 pounds of an 8-8-8 fertilizer per 50 foot of row. For raised beds apply 1/3 cup per 1 square foot of garden soil and 1/3 cup in containers that are equal to a 5 gallon bucket. Be sure to incorporate the 8-8-8 fertilizer at least 6 inches into the soil prior to planting seeds or transplants.
Seeds you can plant directly into your soil in early to mid-September include bush snap beans, bush lima, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collards, cucumbers, endive, escarole, Irish potatoes, lettuce, mustard, turnips, parsley, and English peas. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower can also be transplanted. In late September and October, you can also start onions and shallots and plant radishes, spinach and garlic.
An excellent reference for year-round planting of vegetables is the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide. For information, call call an LSU AgCenter Extension office.
Rene’ Schmit is the LSU AgCenter County Agent for St. Charles Parish and can be reached at 985-785-4473.