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Fall time to get stirring in garden again

By George Boyhan
and Terry Kelley
Georgia Extension Service

Gardening through the fall and winter has some big advantages in Georgia.

For one thing, the weather will be much cooler. Insects aren't nearly the problem they can be during the summer, especially after a cold snap. And some vegetables taste better when you grow them in the cool of the year.

Many cool-season crops will do just fine, including onions, carrots, cole crops (broccoli, cauliflower, collards, cabbage), turnip greens and garden peas. Others you can try include radishes, rutabagas, leeks, garlic and artichokes.

You can grow Vidalia onions, too. You can buy transplants at local stores throughout the fall, usually in bundles of about 50 plants. Plant them in November or December spaced 4 to 6 inches in rows 14 to 18 inches apart.

Onions are heavy feeders, so you'll need a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, that also contains sulfur. Apply about 1 pound per 100 square feet before transplanting and again the end of January. At the end of February, apply a half-pound of calcium nitrate (15-0-0). Your onions will be ready for your burgers in April.

Cole crops

Cole crops like collards and cabbage have been a mainstay in the South. You can start these from seed or transplants.

If you direct-seed, do it in late summer or early fall. You can set out transplants a little later. Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 2 to 3 feet apart.

Keep an eye on caterpillars. Several can be troublesome on these crops. They're really hard to control on broccoli or cauliflower if they get into the developing flower.

Bt products (Bacillus thuringiensis) are good at controlling these problems. They make caterpillars sick and eventually kill them.

Collards probably did as much as any food to keep hunger at bay for many poor farmers in the South. Even today you'll see collard plants 2 to 3 feet tall during the winter in the backyard of rural homes.

The lower leaves are often snapped off as the plants grow, leaving a tall, bare stem and a cluster of leaves on top. You don't have to harvest them this way. You can pull an entire plant once it gets 18 to 24 inches tall.

Turnips, too

Turnips can be grown much like cole crops. The bonus is that the tops and roots are both edible. Prepare turnip greens much like collards, but dice the roots and add them to the pot. Turnips require about 70 days to mature.

Garden peas probably won't last through a hard freeze but will stand some light frost. Start them in September for peas in late November. Plant 3 to 4 seeds per foot in rows 6 to 24 inches apart.

Use the close spacing to form a bed of peas and the wider spacing if you plan to trellis them. Check when you buy your seeds to see if they need trellising.

Edible-pod peas are tasty, too. They often will have "Sugar" in the name, such as "Sugar Pod," "Sugar Snap" or "SugarAnn."

(George Boyhan and Terry Kelley are Cooperative Extension horticulturists with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(George Boyhan is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)

(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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