August is crunch time for gardeners in the southeast to plant seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, collards, and cabbage. If you haven’t started your Brassica seedlings by mid-August is it probably best to get transplants from your favorite independent local nursery or farmers market
unless you are prepared to cover your maturing brassicas with row cover. Use the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Fall and Winter Quick Reference Guide to see other greens and roots you can plant now.
Direct sow collards, Swiss chard, leaf beet, kale, winter radishes, and more Chinese cabbage early August and thru early September. Plant carrots thinly and presoaked beet seeds (1-2 hours) then sow 1/2 inch deep, tamp for good soil contact. Keep area well watered until seedlings emerge. For garden fresh salad all summer and fall plant salad greens every week. Soil temp must be below 80F. If very hot cover seed rows with ice, or sow in plastic flat in fridge. Increase small sowings of lettuce to twice a week from mid-August to mid-September for transplanting when the weather cools off. Choose a fast-growing summer crisp lettuce like Sierra, cold tolerant variety like Winter Density, increasingly popular seasonal mixes, appetizing mesclun or many other flavorful salad greens like Tatsoi and Arugula.
No Fall and winter garden is complete with garlic and other fall planted Alliums. Pre-order perennial onions and garlic now for the best selection. These bulbs ship September through early October, but many varieties are selling out before the shipping season begins. Onion and Garlic Growing Guide (PDF) comes with every order and is available free for download online.
Start planning next year’s garden so best cover crops can be planted now and into the fall as crops are finished and space becomes available. Consider under sowing clover with fall broccoli and late corn. Make your winter cover crop plan and order any seeds needed. Keep up with weeding, watering, and harvesting vegetables every other day. Enjoy the harvest of beans, beets, blueberries, cantaloupes, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, corn, cow peas, cucumbers, eggplant, hot peppers, lettuce, okra, onions, scallions, squash, and tomatoes.
By Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the author of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast