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May 16, 2009 10:32 AM

Ideas for easy fall planting?

Hi all, I teach at a private middle school in suburban Atlanta. At my school, I'm required to offer two electives per semester. This spring, I offered "Food Appreciation" as one of them. It was a very well received class and I'm offering it again next fall.

One of our projects this spring was an herb garden that we used for some of our recipes. I'd like to do a little more next fall, and plant some vegetables. I need to turn in my budget request soon, so I'm looking for ideas for planting. I'd like to start a few things from seed, just to give the kids the experience, but we don't have a greenhouse. I can start planting the first week of school, in mid August. I know spinach is a good cool weather plant, and I think argula is too.

Any suggestions? I'm not terribly experienced as a gardener, and I do most of mine during summer vacation, so I'm not too sure what my options are.

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  1. There are tons of things you can grow through the winter around Atlanta! Almost all of the green leafy crops will do well for you, lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, collards, etc. Broccoli does well in cool weather (start your seeds now) peas, bush beans (start now), carrots, radishes (radishes would be great, from seed they only take about 28 days to mature). These are all things we grow through winter here in VA. Check with your local state agriculture extension office for more info pertaining to your particular region. You might be able to interest one of the ag agents into actively helping you with your garden and students! Or contact your local chapter of the Master Gardener Society. Someone there may get excited at the idea of helping students learn how to grow food through the cold months. Google "winter gardening Atlanta GA" or something similar for online resources.

    We've extended our cold weather growing season here by driving 2' lengths of rebar along the sides of our raised beds, bending 1/2" electrical conduit over it and covering with plastic to make cheap but efficient "greenhouses". I think we paid $2 for each length of rebar, $1/stick for the conduit and we scrounged used heavy duty plastic drop cloths from a local painting company. Not only are we able to protect and grow winter crops this way but it also extends the production of bush tomatoes into November.

    Good luck with your project!

    1. Yes, greens (including spinach and arugula but also chard, kale, collards and all the lettuces) are great cool weather plants. You might also consider root veggies if you have the room. Beets, turnips, and radishes do well in cool weather. Carrots do too, but they're slow growers and might be frustrating for younger gardeners. As for herbs, consider cilantro and parsley or even chervil. They love cool weather.