Photo courtesy Michigan State University
Tender vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash, are damaged easily by light frost. However, these plants can be protected by covering them with blankets, sheets or other covering. Support the covering with poles or sticks so its weight does not break or crush the plants you are trying to protect.
Beets, cauliflower, lettuce and potato can tolerate a light frost and can be covered when a hard frost is predicted. Broccoli, cabbage, onions, spinach and radishes will tolerate a hard frost. If you have just a plant or two to protect, a milk jug or paper tent will work.
Throughout much of the south, gardeners can sow seeds for most vegetables until around the middle of September. This includes bush beans, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, greens, spinach and radishes.
Water soil the day before planting seeds. Moist soil helps seeds germinate. Watering seeds after planting may wash them out of the soil. A light dusting of a non-crusting medium, such as compost, sand or composted sawdust will help the soil retain moisture. If the weather is hot and dry, you should water every day or every other day until the seeds germinate and seedlings are established.
A natural product, such as Preen Natural Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer, is an eco-friendly way to keep weed seeds from germinating. Once vegetable seeds have germinated and seedlings are 2- to 3-inches tall, apply Preen Natural Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer once a month throughout the growing season, including in the fall vegetable garden. It very effectively controls winter annual weeds like henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) and common chickweed (Stellaria media).