Extension takes on fall gardening

Published 5:36 pm Sunday, August 6, 2017

August is here and school will soon be back in session, but that doesn’t mean it is too late to try your hand at growing one last round of produce this year.

On Tuesday, the UGA Master Gardener’s Extension hosted a lecture discussing the wide variety of produce that local gardeners still have time to plant and harvest before the first expected freeze in mid-November. Greens and squash varieties were obvious recommendations, but many other vegetables that are typically thought of as spring plantings were also recommended.

“The only real difference in (fall gardening compared to spring gardening) is in the spring, you plant in the cold weather and try to protect it until it gets warm,” Master Gardener Larry Flynn said. “In the fall, you plant in the hot weather and try to protect it as it gets cooler.”

Dozens of crops were recommended, but the main guideline that gardeners were encouraged to consider was the number of days to maturity with the ideal time sitting under 80 days from the lecture date.

“On the bottom of these (seed) packages, it will give you the days to maturity, so the Swiss chard says 60 days to maturity,” Flynn said. “You don’t want it to mature the day it frosts. You want a little time in there, so you need about 70 to 80 days where you can harvest your crop off of it.”

Flynn grew up on a farm in Alabama where his family derived part of its income from growing vegetables, so his lecture included some thoughts on planting multiple crops throughout the year.

Lecture attendees also had the chance to ask questions about their own gardening experiences during the lecture. Some of those topics will be discussed in an upcoming plant diagnostics series through the extension. The series will take place on Thursdays between noon and 1 p.m. at the LaGrange Memorial Library, and attendees are encouraged to bring a lunch.

“I just have had so many questions from here (at the Lunch and Learn series at the library) where they brought in a leaf or something, and they are like can you tell me what this is on my plant? How do I deal with it? How do I take care of it?” Master Gardener Leslie Bendell said. “That is why I came up with the series. Different things attack different plants and diseases can be universal. On one plant, they will look like this and on another plant like that.”

The series will start off with a lecture on integrated pest management Thursday where Bendell will explain different ways to deal with common garden pests.

“Most people will see insects in their yard and just immediately start spraying or putting out sprays,” Bendell said. “That kills off all your good bugs like your ladybugs and all those things that will actually eat your bad bugs. I do not use any pesticides at all because I find that if I plant things at the right time, I’ll have already built up my beneficial bugs, and they will take care of my bad bugs for me.”

She noted that most pesticides are also harmful for pollinators like bees.

The series will continue as follows:

Aug. 17: Common Pests of Vegetable Plants

Aug. 24: Common Diseases of Vegetable Plants

Aug. 31: Common Pests of Ornamental Plants

Sept. 7: Common Diseases of Ornamental Plants

Sept. 14: Common Pests of Trees

Sept. 21: Common Diseases of Trees

The extension office has moved from its Church St. location and is now located beside the Troup County Correctional Institute at 130 Sam Walker Dr. It is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. For questions regarding the class, your plants or the extension e-mail uge2285@uga.edu or call 706-883-1675.

**** This article has been revised to reflect the updated Lunch & Learn Horticultural Series schedule.