A few mornings this week, the temperature was in the mid to low '60s. Does that mean that fall is in the air?
Fall is a month away, but some of the plants that we can plant now in our vegetable gardens are cool-season vegetables. These cool-season vegetables are some of my favorite foods. There is nothing better than a big pot of collards or turnips that came from a local garden. Also, you can add fresh broccoli from the garden to this list of favorites.
These plants are known as either cole crops or greens. The closely related vegetables commonly called cole crops include cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. These vegetables can be grown in this area.
But they do like soils that are well-drained. If soils hold too much water, you can get root rots. The soil pH needs to be 6.0 to 6.5, and this can be determined by having your soil tested.
Cole crops require more fertilizer than most other vegetables.
They can be started from seeds or transplants. In our area, most gardeners use transplants.
By using transplants, you save two to three weeks' growing time in the garden. It is best to plant these vegetables over many weeks. What I do is plant one-third of my cole crops, wait two weeks and plant another one-third, and then plant a final time two weeks later.
The time to plant is from Aug. 15 to mid-September. I try to plant as soon as I find transplants at the local garden centers.
Early planted cole crops do have some pest problems. The most common pest is caterpillars: cabbage webworms, cabbage loopers, armyworms and corn earworms. They usually attack when the plants are small, but are not much of a problem when temperatures start to cool. Use cararyl (Sevin), peremethrin, or esfenvalerate to control these caterpillars. Read the labels to see how long you have to wait before harvesting these vegetables after applying the pesticides. An organic control option is to use Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide). This is a fungus that attacks the caterpillars and works very well at controlling these insects.
There are several diseases that can attack when the temperatures are hot: Alternaria leafspot, downy mildew and powdery mildew. These diseases can be controlled by improving air circulation and keeping the leaves as dry as possible. To treat, you can use any of the copper fungicides or chlorothalonil (daconil).
Harvest these vegetables when they get to the size that you like them. With broccoli, after you harvest the first head, the plant will send out new heads. These heads will be smaller, but it will produce more and extend the harvest.
Greens are another group of vegetables that are grown in the fall and into the spring. Greens include vegetables such as collards, kale, spinach, and mustards. These vegetables are easy to grow and have a short growing season.
Rapid growth is essential to producing high-quality produce. This rapid growth can be accomplished by planting at the proper time, which is the same as the cole crops, proper fertilization, and inspecting the plants for insects and diseases. To determine the amount of fertilizer needed, have your soil tested.
Greens planted early can have disease and insect problems. Most of these diseases and insects are the same that attack cole crops, so use the same fungicides and insecticides to protect them. Most of the greens will put on new growth once the leafy part of the plant is harvested.
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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