Preparing Your Garden
By MG Calla Victoria
Although it is still hot and muggy down south, this is a good time to start planning your fall garden. Decide what your color scheme will be, how you will be grouping plants, and start thinking of plant selections. Now the idea is planning and not acting at this time. Many of the fall plants, although in some nurseries already, will burn up in the landscape because it is just still to hot for them to survive. Remember that nurseries have perfect growing environments, daily watering, greenhouses, etc., to help those plants through the last of the hot days. But once you buy those plants and take them into the REAL World, they are just not equipped. So until it cools down permanently, you can start by turning and loosening the soil, weeding, adding compost to amend the soil, and getting your beds ready for planting.
The LSU AgCenter, which is the extension service for the state of Louisiana and is the umbrella under which of the Louisiana Master Gardeners (LMG) falls, has just released its Louisiana Super Plants selections for Fall 2014. “Super Plants” are plants that have trialed well in zone 9 over a specific time in the trial gardens at the LSU AgCenter Research Center in Hammond, Louisiana. The super plants for this fall are the Mesa series gaillardia and the Rabbiteye blueberry (know that blueberries must be planted in pairs in order to set fruit). As the current gardening trend is towards ornamental color along with edible gardening, the super plant selections are right on point. Consider inter-planting your veggies and fruit bushes in the same beds with your ornamental shrubbery. There is no need for separate beds for flowers and veggies. Just make sure that the plants have like sun and watering requirements.
Other cool weather crops to consider for your fall garden are lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, collards, lettuce, Swiss chard, mustards, kale, and arugula. As well as root crops like carrots, beets, onions, radishes; and legumes, such as fava beans and peas grow and flourish in the fall.
As ornamentals go Cassias, now more commonly called by the scientific name of Senna, are great fall-flowering large shrub-like plants for Louisiana.. Cassia alata, or Senna alata commonly known as the Candlestick or Candelabra bush, make a big splash of brilliant yellow color in any fall gardens. The Candelabra Bush plant is drought-tolerant and weather-tough making it a suitable plant for inexperienced and expert gardeners alike. Pink Mulhy grass, too makes a big splash of color in the fall looking like rolling fields of cotton candy. This grass is fabulous, it gives you color, movement, and like all other grasses it is drought-tolerant and indestructible.. I have some planted on the easement in front of my home and occasionally I look out of my front window and see someone just standing there stroking the grass as it sways and smiling.
Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!