By Terry Kelley
University of Georgia
Frost will eventually reap the last of the heat-loving crops such as squash, tomatoes and okra. But such crops as cabbage, turnips, mustard, radishes, beets, broccoli, carrots and even English peas can enjoy the cool days of autumn and early winter. Many of these can take a fairly stout frost and be OK.
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and kohlrabi are all good crops for fall gardens. They're best started from transplants but can be direct-seeded, too. If you seed them directly into the soil, keep the ground moist while it's still hot to give them a good start.
Keep them well watered if you transplant, too. The later you start, the smarter it becomes to transplant to cut the time to maturity. Establishing plants after late September may not yield good results. Most of these crops take from 70 to 80 days to mature in the fall.
Most leafy greens can fit this pattern. Turnips and mustard are less tolerant to frosts and freezes than collards and kale. Don't wait too late to plant them. They're short-season crops and will mature in 45-60 days.
All of these crops except cabbage and kohlrabi lend themselves to multiple harvests. You may be able to get several cuttings on one crop.
English peas can't stand a hard freeze. But there's time to get in a crop before harsh weather. Sugar snap peas or edible pod peas will fit into this category, too. They usually require about 70 days to mature in the fall.
Radishes will mature in about four weeks. Beets and Swiss chard, both hardy crops, mature in about 60 days. Plant these in time to harvest before hard freezes.
Carrots and onions grow well in south Georgia during the winter. Neither can take severe temperatures, but light freezes and frosts do them no harm. Carrots can be seeded in September through October for harvest in the spring. Onions are usually transplanted in November for harvest in April and May.
It will soon be time to clean off the remains of the summer garden. But get ready now for fall and winter. It can be a lot more fun to garden in the crisp fall air than in the gnat-infested heat of summer.
(Terry Kelley is a former University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)