The Fall garden season in Zone 9A is right around the corner. Although it will still be hot for a while, there is a lot that needs done to prepare. Let’s talk about some of the things needed done to get ready for the Fall garden season.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zones
First, just a word on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map. The hardiness zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. In Southeast Louisiana, we are in Zone 9A. Zones are provided by the USDA to help gardeners understand which plants can survive their region’s climate, especially winter frost/freeze conditions. This help the gardener determine what plants, especially perennials, will thrive in the weather conditions of their zone. This, combined with the first Fall and last Spring frost dates, are also critical. For late Summer, you will need to select and start vegetables (annuals) that you can harvest by the first Fall frost date unless they can withstand a frost.
LSU AgCenter – Planting Guide
The LSU AgCenter publishes a vegetable planting guide providing valuable information to help Louisiana gardeners understand the optimum time to plant different types of vegetables, spacing, depth, days to maturity, etc., along with recommended varieties. This information, combined with the hardiness zone and frost date information, provides critical information needed to plan which types of vegetables you want to plant in you Fall and Spring garden and when. All states have something similar so I’m sure you can just Google it.
Plant from Seed
In my garden, I plant everything from seed, because I like to plant more of a variety than what I can get at the local nursery. I already have seeds that I’ve saved or were purchased from last Fall. I typically buy my seeds from either Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Seed Savers Exchange as I love their huge variety. However, any online seed vendor or your local nursery will work.
For my Fall gardening, I usually start vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower off in small 4″ plastic seedling pots outside. They are placed where they will receive some sun but not too much. I do this so I can grow them without pressure from the intense heat then I’ll transplant them directly into the garden as they get a bit bigger (and hopefully, it cools off a bit).
Amending the Soil
We need to make sure the soil is prepared to support another season of plants. The soil must be loose and friable, drain well, and provide both the macro- and micro-nutrients that the plants need. Remember that I had plants here during the Spring/Summer so they “used up” nutrients so we’ll need to put some back. Because of this, I’ll work in some of my own compost from my compost tumbler, along with composted cow and chicken manure, mushroom compost, some perlite, and some sphagnum peat moss to increase quality and volume of soil. I usually mix in a little Azomite Rock dust because I want a micro-nutrient boost.
Note: The magical mix for great soil is 1/3 sphagnum moss, 1/3 vermiculite or perlite and 1/3 compost (3 – 5 different sources of compost). My raised beds that started with this mix still outperforms those where I used garden mix from the local nursery. I have been amending the soil in those beds so they are catching up but the original beds with this mix still have the best performance.
Direct Sow or Transplant
Some seeds do better if they are planted directly into the garden soil as opposed to being planted in a pot, then transplanted. The root structure of some plants will not withstand the impact of removing it from the pot then re-planting into the garden soil. For example, most root plants like beets, radishes, etc., will do better if sowed directly in the garden soil and not in a pot.
Darrell’s Lineup for the Fall Garden
I will plant a variety of vegetables over the next number of weeks. For some, I will plant again a few weeks later (succession planting), so I can keep harvesting throughout the winter, especially plants like lettuce, peas, etc. This includes:
|Type||When to Plant||Days to Maturity|
|Beets||8/15 – 10/1||55 – 60|
|Broccoli||8/15 – 10/15||70 – 90|
|Brussel Sprouts||8/15 – 10/15||90|
|Cabbage||8/15 – 10/15||65 – 75|
|Carrots||9/1 – 11/1||70 – 75|
|Celery||10/1 – 11/1||210|
|Cauliflower||7/1 – 10/15||55 – 65|
|Chinese Cabbage||7/15 – 10/1||60 – 80|
|Garlic||10/1 – 11/30||210|
|Greens, Collard||3/15 – 10/1||75|
|Greens, Mustard||8/1 – 3/15||35 – 50|
|Kale||9/2 – 3/15||60|
|Kohlrabi||8/15 – 10/30||55 – 75|
|Lettuce||8/15 – 9/30||45 – 80|
|Peas||9/1 – 9/15||60 – 70|
|Radish||9/1 – 11/1||22 – 28|
|Spinach||10/1 – 2/28||35 – 45|
|Swish Chard||8/15 – 10/30||45 – 55|
|Turnips||8/1 – 2/28||40 – 50|
Success in Fall Gardening
We can grow year-round with the mild weather we have here in Zone 9A. As a gardener, be aware of what plant hardiness zone you are located in and become knowledgeable of what that means, along with the first and last frost dates. In addition, find out what local planting guides are available that will give specific direction for your location. Therefore, if we know what and when we can grow, we’ve amended our soil, started seeds when needed, and take care when transplanting plants, then we will have a successful Fall garden.
Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. If you have any questions on any of the plants discussed, feel free to drop a comment.
Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!
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