“Groundwork” column for Aug. 11, 2013

Advocate file photo -- Broccoli can be transplanted from early August through early September. Show caption
Advocate file photo -- Broccoli can be transplanted from early August through early September.

Broccoli and cauliflower can be transplanted from early August through early September.

In general, broccoli and cauliflower will require 5 to 6 pounds (or pints) of a complete fertilizer such as 8-24-24 or 13-13-13 per 100 feet of row. These crops, especially cauliflower, require fast, continuous growth for proper head development.

Keep them well watered and fertilized. Side-dress plants with nitrogen three weeks after transplanting and again two weeks after that. Varieties that will produce in about 60 days from transplanting reduce the chance of cold weather damage.

Recommended broccoli varieties are Gypsy, Diplomat and Packman, and cauliflower varieties are Majestic, Candid Charm, Cumberland, Snow Crown and Freedom.

Late August through early September is the best time to plant snap beans. Normally, 50 to 55 days are required from planting until harvest. Don’t let beans suffer from drought. Good varieties are Provider, Roma II, Derby, Bronco, Royal Burgundy, Green Crop, Strike and Caprice.

For a yellow wax bean, choose Golden Rod Wax. Bush beans usually will produce more successfully than pole beans during the fall because of their earlier maturity.

Plant small whole potatoes saved from the spring crop from about mid-August to early September. Good soil moisture is essential. The seed potatoes may not sprout readily after planting because of a physiological rest period of about 90 days they have to go through after harvesting during the spring.

After this rest period is satisfied, the tubers should sprout. Fall yields are lower than spring yields. Use the smaller potatoes (that you harvested) for seed pieces.

Transplant cabbage beginning in early August through mid-October. Fertilize the same as broccoli and cauliflower. Space cabbage, cauliflower and Chinese cabbage about 12 to 14 inches apart and broccoli 6 to 12 inches apart.

Double drilling (two drills of plants spaced 10-12 inches apart on a single row) will help maximize yield. Try Rio Verde for late plantings.

Recommended early maturity varieties include Platinum, Dynasty, Gold Dynasty and Stonehead (AAS).

Maturing a little later are Rio Verde, Solid Blue 780, Red Dynasty, Emblem, Blue Dynasty, Thunderhead Royal Vantage, Silver Dynasty, Blue Thunder, Cheers, Vantage Point, Savoy Ace (AAS) and Savoy King (AAS).

Begin planting greens — mustard, turnip and collard — during August. Keep the soil moist to ensure a good stand. Try some of the white turnips like White Lady and Tokyo Cross for roots and Seven Top, All Top, Topper and Southern Green for greens. Also good are Just Right, Royal Crown, Purple Top WG and Red Giant.

Dry sets of shallots can be planted from August to April. About 50 to 60 days after planting, tops will be ready to harvest.

Plant, tree protection

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill offers the following safety tips to protect your landscape plants and trees.

Mowers and string trimmers that use a monofilament line for cutting weeds and grass can be damaging to young trees and trees with thin bark. Mowers pushed hard or dragged around the base of young trees can be almost as damaging.

Shrubs are generally planted in beds, so they are less at risk. But I have seen this problem occasionally when ground covers, such as Asiatic jasmine, are trimmed away from the base of shrubs with string trimmers.

Whether you maintain your landscape yourself or pay someone to do it for you, don’t let this kind of needless damage happen to your trees and shrubs.

Trees are also vulnerable to root damage from construction activity. If you plan on doing construction — whether building a new home, adding on to an existing one or even putting in a patio or repairing driveways or sidewalks — tree roots will likely be an issue.

Tree roots extend well beyond the reach of the branches, and the majority of the feeder roots — those that absorb water and minerals from the soil — are located in the upper 8 to 12 inches of the soil. This makes them much more vulnerable to damage than most people appreciate.

If you will be doing construction or filling around valuable existing trees, consider consulting a licensed arborist before the work is done to make sure the trees are damaged as little as possible.

Pesticides commonly used in the landscape include insecticides to control bugs, fungicides to control diseases caused by fungus organisms and herbicides to control weeds.

Landscape plants can be damaged by all three, but most damage occurs from insecticides because we use them more often than other pesticides.

Herbicides also cause significant damage because they are, after all, designed to kill plants.

Insecticides will list on their label which plants may be damaged by them and any temperature limitations. Some insecticides will damage plants if they’re applied during hot weather.

And many insecticides will burn or damage plants if you mix them too strong. So, you can see how important it is to know of these potential problems and avoid them by following label directions.

Because herbicides are designed to kill plants, we must be particularly careful when using them around desirable ornamentals. Again, read the label to make sure the herbicide will do the job you need it to do and to understand how to use it properly.

Many people also damage plants with fertilizers or plant food. Gardeners often think if a little is good, more is even better. But fertilizers should never be applied stronger than label recommendations.

You may apply less than is recommended, but mixing fertilizer stronger or applying more than the label recommends can lead to serious plant damage.

Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to bsouvestre@agcenter.lsu.edu, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.