In our area, we have a long growing season, which allows us to produce many different kinds of vegetables. In fact, we can have vegetables growing in our gardens all year long.
But in the coldest weather the vegetables don't produce much. The ones that withstand the cold will survive and produce when it warms up.
Our vegetables are divided into categories of warm-season and cool-season vegetables. Vegetables that fall into the warm-season category include tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash. Cool-season vegetables include collards, broccoli, turnips and onions.
During the spring and fall, these vegetables will overlap in the garden.
Warm-season vegetables are usually planted for the first time in April, and by now they are playing out. I have talked with a number of gardeners who have pulled out their first planting of the summer vegetables.
Because of diseases, insects and other factors, the vegetables reduce vigor and reduce yield. When this happens, you need to get rid of these plants because they will bring in more insects and have more disease problems.
One of the benefits of a long growing season is we have a chance to replant and get a second crop from most of our warm-season vegetables. However, there are certain things that you have to take into account when planting a second crop.
The first is the number of days that vegetables take to reach maturity. You need to choose the variety of vegetable that takes the shortest time to reach maturity. When choosing seeds, the catalog or seed pack should tell you the number of days for the plant to reach maturity.
The reason that you want the shortest number of days is to avoid the first frost date. In our area, the first frost is typically the last week of October or the first few days of November. Your vegetables need to have produced by then, or they will be killed by the frost.
In our area, we need to have the second crop in by July 15 to Aug. 15. If you plant by these dates, you should harvest a second crop.
When you plant a second crop, rotate the vegetables within your garden. This will help reduce insect and disease problems. Typically, we have more insect and disease problems later in the summer than we do in the spring, so you will need to scout your garden more.
Not only is July and August the time to start a second crop of warm-season vegetables, but it is the time to start your fall garden. The planting date for your fall garden will depend on whether you plant seeds or transplants. If you prefer direct-seed crops, such as collards, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower, you need to plant the seeds in early August.
If you use transplants, you can wait until September to plant. Most of the other vegetables, like turnips, carrots and other root crops, can be seeded starting in mid-August.
There are a few problems that you can encounter early in the season in a fall garden. The first is hot weather. Most of the cool-season vegetables like cooler weather than we have in August and early September, so you have to make sure that they are watered well if we are not getting rain. The plants will be able to survive if they have adequate water.
Mulching the plants will help ensure they have adequate water. Old newspaper or small grain straw will provide a good mulch layer.
The second problem is insects. I mentioned earlier that late summer and early fall is when we see high insect populations. The insects that cause the most problems on the leafy greens are caterpillars.
These can be controlled very easily using a product like Dipel or other products that contain Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). This is an organic control. This product contains a fungus that attacks the caterpillars.
Aphids are another problem. You can control them using insecticidal soaps. There are other insecticides that you can use, but make sure you read the pesticide label. Some of these products have a long waiting period before you can eat the vegetable.
Vegetable gardens are not just something you plant in the spring; you can enjoy fresh vegetables most of the year.
Columbia County Extension Agent Charles Phillips can be reached at (706) 868-3413 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Extension Web address is www.ugaextension.com/columbia.
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