Ask The County Agent: Too late to start a Fall Garden?

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Pictured above is a garden plot of collards (UGA Cooperative Extension).

By STEPHANIE BUTCHER, UGA Extension Coweta County Coordinator

QUESTION: Is it too late to start a fall garden? 

AGENT: No. It is not too late, but if you want to grow your own transplants from seeds, then you should get those started as soon as you can. If you are buying plants, then you can get them in the ground this month. Most fall crops can be planted between August 15 and October 1.  

It can be very challenging to get cool-season vegetables through the end of a hot, Georgia summer. There is a delicate balance between starting them early enough to allow them to mature (50 to 60 days) before a hard frost and getting them through the end of summer. Our first frost date is usually November 15. 

If you have a summer vegetable garden, chop up these plants with your lawn mower and use a tiller to incorporate them into your garden along with a balanced fertilizer. If you have not soil tested in a while, then visit the UGA Coweta County Extension office website at ugaextension.org/coweta for instructions on soil testing so that you can add the right amount of fertilizer and lime (if needed). 

Seeds for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, turnips, radishes, spinach, lettuce, beets and onions are usually started in early to mid-August, so it is a little bit late for those. It is best to use a store-bought potting mix to start seeds in containers, flats or trays. Place the seeds in a partially shaded spot and keep them watered, and you should have seedlings ready to transplant in late September to early October. Onion sets can be transplanted later in October.

Most vegetables can be purchased as ready-to-transplant seedlings from garden centers if you don’t want to start from seeds.

Keeping young seedlings watered is critical to establishing them. You also have to keep a sharp eye out for pest problems such as insects, diseases and weeds because they will continue to flourish in warm temperatures and high humidity. A layer of newspaper and mulch placed between rows can prevent a lot of weed problems and help conserve soil moisture.

For more information about fall vegetable gardens and a planting calendar, contact the Coweta County Extension office at 770-254-2620 or [email protected] and ask for the publication, “Fall Vegetable Gardening”, Circular 1258. 

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