Start planting cool season vegetables

October 2, 2013 

The cooler weather we have seen this week is a good indicator that summer is just about over.

By now I am sure that your summer vegetable garden is probably seeing some neglect. Now is the time of year to start planting some of our cool season vegetables.

There are several types of vegetable crops that can be planted and harvested in the cooler months. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, spinach and turnips can all be planted at this time of year.

Most of these are easily started from seed, but transplants are usually available at local lawn and garden stores as well as some of the big box stores.

Planting cool season vegetables is a good way to continue having fresh produce throughout the fall. Fall gardening is just a continuation of summer gardening. As the summer crops come out they can be replaced by cool season crops. Crop rotation is essential to reduce buildup of diseases and pests that attack a particular family of plants. It is best to avoid planting plants in the same spot within three to five years.

Plant spacing is critical to allow for proper growth and development of vegetables. Crowding can lead to reduced size while sparsely planted gardens can result in wasted lime, fertilizer and water.

The recommended row spacing for most of our cool season crops is around 2-3 feet. This can be reduced for crops like carrots, onions, mustard and turnips.

The in-row spacing of vegetables is also important. For most of these crops a foot in between each plant will be adequate, however onions, turnips, carrots and mustard can be planted much closer.

Fertilization for these crops will also vary. A soil sample should always be done to assure proper pH and determine available nutrients. Different vegetables require differing levels of fertility to produce a quality crop.

Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and onions are referred to as heavy feeders, meaning they require a lot of fertilizer. Greens, radishes and beets are medium feeders.

A general recommendation for medium feeders on marginal soil would be 20 pounds of 16­-4­-8 per 1,000 square feet. For heavy feeders this amount would need to be increased by 50 percent. For crops like broccoli and root crops, 1 tablespoon of borax should be applied per 100 feet of row. This can be done by mixing the borax with soil or another fertilizer and applying it down the row.

This time of year is also the time to begin preparing next year’s summer vegetable garden by cleaning up dead plant material, tilling the soil, and taking a soil test. Plant a “green manure” crop to till into the soil very early next spring to add organic matter.

This is a good time to soil test to determine if your garden needs lime. Add dolomitic lime now since it takes several months for it to raise the soil pH and provide magnesium and calcium for the vegetables.

For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at for more news about your local extension office.

Dates to remember

• Oct. 3-13: Georgia National Fair, Perry-Ask a Master Gardener Booth in Heritage Hall, demonstrations daily

• Oct. 9 Walk Georgia Registration Deadline.

• Oct. 15-17: Sunbelt Ag Expo, Moultrie.

Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or

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