As July moves into August, kids are going back to school and some of us are looking forward to this summer heat fading into the more temperate weather of autumn.  Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires planning and an awareness of good cultural practices.

 In Georgia, cool season crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, lettuce, carrots, and greens can be planted in August and September for harvesting in October and later. Some of our fall crops will take longer than others to mature and be ready for harvest. Our fastest maturing crops include: radish, mustard, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, and swiss chard. Crops that take longer to mature include brussels sprouts, rutabaga, onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, and collards. Full planting calendars for fall vegetable crops can be found online or at your local Extension office. Depending on when you’d like to harvest your garden and the intended crop, planting dates range from August 15-October 1.

            As you prepare for your garden, be sure to take a soil test and make amendments to soil pH and fertility. Soil that has not been corrected for pH and fertility will not produce the quality and volume of produce that you might hope for.  You may also consider tilling the garden and adding organic matter if it needs it to improve soil texture. Make sure your garden is located in an area that gets enough sunlight for your desired crops, and do what you can to protect your plants from wildlife that want an easy meal.

When planning your garden, first decide what you intend to plant and how you’re going to start those crops. Some produce, like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts do better if you start them from transplants, while others like lettuce, carrots, and greens can be direct-seeded in the garden. When your garden is ready for planting, follow package recommendations to plant seeds and transplants to the correct depth. Depending on the size of plant, you’ll want to space the seeds and transplants so they have enough room to grow. Once you plant your crops, be sure to water them every day the first week, and roughly 1-2” of water per week after that. Overhead or sprinkler watering can contribute to disease problems and is generally not recommended; soaker hoses and drip irrigation are better.

            Once your garden starts to grow, be on the lookout for any disease or pest problems. If you plant early in August, you may find some additional risk for disease due to the hot, humid weather. Control weeds in your garden through hand pulling, weed fabric, or by using organic mulches. Scout your plants by looking between leaves and under foliage regularly for insects like caterpillars, beetles, and any sign of insect damage. If you notice something “off” in your garden, contact your Extension office sooner rather than later. Using chemical pesticides or other products without being 100% certain of the problem is not recommended.

            Following these simple guidelines can help your fall garden be productive and healthy throughout the season. If you have specific questions or need more information, please contact us at or 706-359-3233.             

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