Perennial Pals: Gardening and Crops in a Fall Garden

Just For Fun, Lifestyle, Tastebuds

(Article and photo by Jacob Williams in conjunction with Towns-Union Master Gardener Association and the UGA Extension Office)

Do you usually have a fall garden? Now is the time to start thinking about one. There are some benefits to having a fall garden that we’ll get in to. Let’s talk about what vegetable crops and cover crops are an option for a fall garden and how to start your fall garden.


Clovers in a pot

Cover crops are planted in the fall and grow throughout the winter into early spring. Cover crops are beneficial to soil health and are often used in organic production. I like to think of the soil as a muscle in the body. If you work a muscle too hard or with only one exercise then you may injure the muscle by straining it or even tearing it. However, by diversifying your exercises and making sure that you’re eating properly for muscle growth you can grow stronger. Soil also requires development over time, and cover crops can help with that. Common crops are clovers and cereal crops like cereal rye, black oats, and wheat. Come springtime they can be tilled into the soil or laid down so that you can plant into them. Planting cover crops can help to develop organic matter in the soil, reduce erosion, suppress weeds, and conserve soil moisture. Around Labor Day is the ideal time to plant cover crops in our area.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, turnips, radishes, spinach, lettuce, beets, and onions are some good options for a fall garden. For fall gardens it is important to use mulch to protect the plants from the frost. You may need to get another soil test done on your garden to see if you need to add any fertilizer for the coming crop. Ideally, you want the plants to have 50 – 60 days to mature before the first frost. Our average first frost date is mid-October. That makes mid-August a good time to plant.



There are a couple of benefits to planting in the fall that you don’t see in the summer. One of these is there are fewer insect pests around. That means you won’t need to spray as many insecticides. If you are trying to grow your garden organically that is a very good thing! There will also be fewer diseases that you have to contend with in the fall. Diseases like hot, humid conditions. As the temperature drops in the coming months diseases will become less and less of a problem. Winter weeds can still be a problem but they are not as much of a pest as summertime weeds. Use mulch to suppress weeds.

Pansies and violas are an option for flowering plants that will last through the winter and keep their flowers. Plant pansies mid-September once the temperatures have cooled down.

Gardening in the spring means working through diseases and insects. In the fall the biggest challenge will be from the temperature. As the temperature drops rapidly selecting varieties of crops that can stand the cold will be important. It can be extremely rewarding to see green growing around your house after everything else has turned brown.

If you have any questions about growing your fall garden contact your County Extension Office or email me at [email protected]




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Union County Canning Plant to open July 7


BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – The Union County Canning Plant will open on July 7 by appointment only. Also, the cannery will be limited to 11 groups per time slot.

The cannery will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and no walkups will be accepted.

Those interested in canning must call (706) 439-6043 in advance.  Appointments will be scheduled in two different time slots: 6 a.m.-8:45 a.m. and 9 a.m.-11:45 a.m. The cannery asks that no one brings extra product to be canned at one time. The timed appointments will have set limits and can’t be extended to accommodate overages.

Upon first visiting the cannery, visitors must sign a 2020 Registration Form/Waiver to receive their canning number for the year. If forgotten, the numbers will be posted. Each individual will be assigned a table and asked to remain at their for most of the canning process. After washing the food, they should notify a cannery worker if the food needs to be cooked or steamed. Staff will also sterilize jars, but canners should write their registration number on can lids with Sharpie and immerse them in hot water. Also, canners must fill their jars with the hot product and put lids on jars. A staff member will take it from there and give canners a designated time to return and pick up the finished cans.

See the cannery guidelines below:

COVID-19 Guidelines:

  1. Use of the Canning Plant will be by appointment only.  No walkups will be accepted.  Appointments will be limited to 11 groups per time slot.  No children under 13 will be permitted in the Canning Plant under any circumstances.

  2. All persons entering the Canning Plant shall be screened for cough, fever, and recent exposure to COVID-19. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater will not be permitted to enter the Union County Canning Plant.

  3. Face masks or face covering are required to enter the Union County Canning Plant. An appropriate face mask or face covering is one that covers the wearer’s nose and mouth with fabric or filter material.  Gloves are also required inside the Canning Plant.

  4. Maintain proper social distancing while inside the Canning Plant.

What to bring: Jars, lids (Ball or Kerr), bands, product to be canned, your recipe, and all ingredients.

Cost:  25₵ per pint  •  35₵ per quart

Brief History of Canning

The practice of preserving food by hermetically sealing it inside containers began in 1809 in France. Nicolas Appert started the process as a response to the call from government to preserve food for army and navy use. 50 years later, Louis Paster discovered that the heat killed microorganisms in food, and sealing it prevented other microorganisms from entering. In 1810, Peter Durand patented the use of tin-coated iron cans instead of bottles. Soon after the canning process crossed the pond and the United States quickly became the largest producer of canned goods in the world. 

Gilmer Chamber refuses to “cancel” Taste of Ellijay

Fetching Featured, Tastebuds

Not canceled, but not the same. It seems to be a trending theme in the last two months of events like Taste of Ellijay are being amended to work around the viral outbreak, quarantines, and distancing.

Gilmer County’s Chamber President and CEO Paige Green released a video on social media three days ago speaking about Taste of Ellijay Week. Instead of one day downtown, 2020 will see a whole week of social media posts, updates, highlights, and photos of the flavors and foods that Ellijay provides.

All about Taste of Ellijay 2020!

Posted by Gilmer Chamber on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chamber Communications Manager Caitlin Neal said that the Chamber did not want to completely cancel many people’s favorite event of the year. Most events like this have planned “rainout days” to reschedule the event if needed, but with the sheltering and quarantining, even that day was unsure of viability. Neal said they wanted to find some option to make the event still accessible. “We just didn’t want to not have a Taste of Ellijay,” she said.

With many restaurants doing curbside, delivery, or take options. But some are also having to work off limited menus due to the situation. A natural response is to connect citizens with the event to those restaurants who are struggling through this virus or others who are just reopening.

Neal took it a step further, however, as she said the Chamber is taking all the stress out of finding a restaurant as well. Instead of the common argument asking ‘where do you want to eat?’ Neal said the Chamber has made a Facebook and Instagram filter for randomizing Ellijay’s Tastes. The Taste of Ellijay filter will get you started into the week easily, randomizing and deciding for you on where to go.

With testing a beta testing, the filter is already been viewed 11,900 times and captured close to 1,400. With the event not starting until tomorrow, these statistics are all from preview testing and beta runs.

But filters, social media, and online efforts are still not enough for our Chamber as Neal expressed plans for more outside of restaurants like chalking information on the sidewalk in addition to other ideas. The entire campaign is not only helping a favored event to survive, but also to rally citizens to support local businesses amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

As the week continues and we follow up with the event, the Chamber will be hosting and resharing posts of their own as they curate the mostly online campaign for Ellijay. Follow the #TasteOfEllijay on social media outlets for more as well.

New food business birthed in Ellijay from viral shutdown


ELLIJAY, Ga. – Amid the shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak, a new business has cropped up this weekend in Gilmer serving those at home through a new, shelter-friendly style of food service.

No, they’re not cooking, but people on social media have already started commenting and sharing experiences from this new business known as Ellijay Eats. Taking a similar model to some delivery services popularized before the shutdown, they say, “We are a new service created to help support the local restaurants in Ellijay, GA.”

Supporting restaurants and offering delivery to citizens, this entire business adds a “no-contact” style delivery service in and just outside of the twin cities of Ellijay and East Ellijay. They have noted that in these early stages, their is a set range of delivery. Early stages because the business has almost cropped up over-night due to concerns over the virus.

Even now, the owners are still working details out. One example as they said, at the time of this writing, is that they were unable to do alcohol sales deliveries due to ID checks as they haven’t figured out a process for it yet. Also, an expanding list of supported restaurants to deliver for is another limit they are looking to break. The business model mimics other delivery services that have been popularized, but this service is completely contact free.

Commenting on their own creation, their social media page stated, “The current situation is a shelter-in-place restriction due to coronavirus that makes it a challenge to support our restaurants.” They have created thei own website and facebook group in a matter of days. Indeed, the new business hasn’t even been open for a week. Making it among the first, if not the actual first business started in the area post-outbreak.

The business is owned by partners Molly Elmore and Mitch Silvius according to posts. Elmore said in her introduction, “Ellijay GA is wonderful mountain town, with many amazing independently owned restaurants that were not prepared for a quarantine situation. The vast majority were not set up to take online orders for local delivery.”

Elmore said the business was created to support local restaurants while also honoring the shelter-in-place order that has come from Gilmer County, Ellijay, and East Ellijay.

Don’t miss the 13th Annual Taste of Blue Ridge


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