Though there are slight climate variations between north and south Louisiana, the state generally has a humid, subtropical climate that makes for a longer growing season than states in the North. The first frost dates throughout the state range from the end of October in Shreveport to mid-November in New Orleans. Frost-hardy vegetables can be successfully grown until the end of November and well into December in mild winters.
Collards are rich in calcium and vitamins A and C. The vegetable tolerates cooler weather better than any other member of the cabbage family. Fall frosts improve the flavor of cabbages. Plant collards in mid-summer for autumn and early winter harvests. Seeds should be sown ¼ to ½ inch deep. Seedlings should be thinned to 6 inches apart, and then 18 inches apart when the leaves on the plants start to touch. Rows should be 3 feet apart. Water collards regularly, and watch for and treat pests like aphids and cabbage worms. Harvest the leaves at any time after the plants grow to 6 inches tall.
Brussels sprouts grow well in cool weather and survive light frosts. Plants that are put out in late spring or summer will produce high-quality sprouts in the late fall and early winter. Plants that produce earlier in the season have a bitter taste. Set the sprouts 2 to 3 feet apart in rows that are 2 feet apart. Use nitrogen fertilizer when they’ve grown to 12 inches tall. Keep brussels sprouts well-watered until the weather cools. Three weeks before you harvest, remove the top of the plant to allow the sprouts lower down on the stem to mature. The vegetable is high in potassium, folate and vitamins A and C.
Mustard greens have lots of beta carotene and vitamin C. A half cup, cooked, has only 11 calories. Greens are easy to grow and mature quickly. Start planting in midsummer for fall harvest. Plants grown in cooler conditions are usually of higher quality. Sow seeds 1/3 to ½ inch deep, and thin to 3 to 5 inches apart when the plants are established. The greens that you thin out can be eaten. Fertilize, weed and water the plants throughout their growth. The tender leaves can be harvested continuously and eaten either cooked or raw. Avoid yellowed or wilted leaves and tough, larger leaves.
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