August is a transitional time for your vegetable garden. While cool-season planting begins in earnest next month, some of the more heat-tolerant cool-season vegetables, such as the cole crops, can be planted into the garden now. And, since our first frosts generally don't arrive until late November or early December, we can also plant warm-season vegetables such tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers for fall production.
It is important to prepare beds properly before planting. Clear the site of all weeds or finished vegetable plants and incorporate generous amounts of compost into the soil. A general-purpose fertilizer may be applied. Gardeners should consider having their soil tested through their parish LSU AgCenter Extension office to learn more about the fertility of their soil and what fertilizer to use. A soil test will also tell you if you need to add lime to the soil.
Now is the time to plant tomato, eggplant and bell pepper transplants for fall production. If your pepper plants from the spring are still in reasonably good shape, they will often produce an excellent fall crop once the weather begins to cool down (this also goes for eggplants). Keep them well fertilized and protected from insects and diseases.
Tomato cultivars that produce well in the fall include Florida 91, Spitfire, Solar Set, Heatwave II, Phoenix, Sunleaper, Sunmaster, Solar Fire or Talladega Plant several varieties and see which you like best.
Fall snap beans often produce better than those planted in spring. They are one of the easiest and most reliable vegetables and are especially appropriate for children's gardens. Wait until late August or early September to plant so they will come into bloom after the weather has begun to turn cooler. Bush lima beans may also be planted.
Cole crops to be planted this month from seeds or transplants include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, rape and collards. Cole is the Old English word for cabbage, and these days is used to refer to this group of closely related vegetables (we still use the word when we call cabbage salad coleslaw).