By Steve Borel
A big part of successful gardening is timing: doing the right thing at the right time. In the world we live in everyone wants things right now! Well when it comes to gardening patience can be an important factor. If we try to plant certain vegetables to early we can become frustrated. They may bolt (flower quickly) or just do poorly because weather conditions, mainly temperatures are not favorable for plant growth. Below is a summary of most of the fall vegetable crops that can be grown and the recommended month to plant them. Cauliflower and green shallots can be transplanted in August. September starts your root crops, spinach and leafy crops, parsley, broccoli, cilantro and onion seed. You can also now set out transplants of cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Final fall plantings for October can seed root crops, kale, kohlrabi, greens and loose-head lettuce. Garlic and shallots go out now as well. The leafy crops excel in the fall. Some of the more popular leafy crops are Swiss chard, collards, spinach, mustard, turnip greens and lettuce. Endive, escarole, kale, arugula and the greens of mesclun mix also do very well during the cooler months in Louisiana. Other leafy crops of great value are cabbage and Chinese cabbage. Several of these crops can tolerate a hot start, so crops like cabbage, collards and Swiss chard can be seeded in summer through September. Swiss chard is considered a year-round vegetable. Others like Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard and turnips should be seeded August through early October for best success. With most Louisiana fall seasons, there is a breaking point about mid-September. This is when we start to see some northern fronts move “cooler” nights in. This is when crops like lettuce and endive groups may first be seeded. Continue to seed these until early October. Head lettuce is a real challenge in Louisiana. You can’t start it too early, or the heat develops a very poor product. Seed may be started directly in the rows since the soil is warm, but you must make a special effort on your irrigation since lettuce seedlings are very delicate. Night watering can be helpful for early fall lettuce needs. Lettuce comes in several forms. Crisphead is an iceberg type. Butterheads are known as the bibb or Boston lettuces. Cos or romaine types are tall and cylindrical. Loose-leaf lettuce is an open-headed group that may have green- or red-colored leaves that may be ruffled. The looser the head type, the easier it is to grow. Kale in the vegetable garden is the eating kind, not the flowering kale. It and collards tolerate quite a bit of frost and develop a wonderful flavor and sweetness in cool weather. In Louisiana, there is always plenty of opportunity for good table fare.