Fall Gardening in Texas: A Bountiful Season

By Ames Farm Center

Are you ready for a gardening season like no other? As the cooler weather approaches, it’s time to embrace the abundance of fall and plan your fall vegetable garden. With the dwindling insect population, ample rainfall, and pleasant temperatures, your plants will thrive in this season. In fact, did you know that vegetables grown during the fall are often sweeter and more flavorful?

A Variety of Options

You might be surprised by the wide range of vegetables that can be grown during the fall season in Texas. From tomatoes to cabbages, beans to greens, there are plenty of options to choose from. Imagine enjoying a fresh harvest of bush green beans in October and November. Varieties like Blue Lake, Contender, and Tendercrop are well-suited for this region and typically mature in just 8 weeks.

It’s important to consider the possibility of an unexpected early frost, so be sure to allow extra time for your fall vegetables to mature. Remember, green beans produce their own nitrogen, so avoid over-fertilizing to ensure a bountiful harvest. A light application of fertilizer when they reach 6 to 8 inches tall should be sufficient. As a general rule, beans require half as much fertilizer as other garden vegetables.

Leafy Greens to Last Till Spring

If you’re a fan of leafy greens, now is the perfect time to plant mustard, kale, turnips, collards, and carrots. By harvesting only the outer leaves of these vegetables, you can enjoy fresh, wonderfully tasty greens until spring. Collards, in particular, are a favorite for many gardeners. With proper care, you can have an abundant supply to share and freeze for later enjoyment.

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Spinach Success Tips

Spinach is another great addition to your fall garden. To improve germination, soak the seeds for an hour before planting. While crinkly leafed spinach is a personal favorite, you may find that the flat leaf variety fares better in terms of size. Plant the seeds in moist soil, covering them with compost or potting soil to prevent the formation of a hard crust. For a delightful summer treat, boil the washed spinach for two minutes, drain, and then immerse in ice water before freezing. The result? Simply wonderful!

What Comes Next

As September brings cooler temperatures, consider adding beets, radishes, spinach, and cucumbers to your garden. Leafy vegetables can continue to be planted through November, while English peas for spring harvest can be planted in November or December. And don’t forget about broccoli! This versatile vegetable will be available as transplants in the fall. Varieties like Packman and Green Comet thrive in this region and will be a delight to grow.

The Power of Compost

Remember to prepare your garden beds by mixing in a layer of compost before planting. Compost helps loosen clay soil and retain water in sandy soils. As it breaks down, it becomes a vital nutrient source for your plants. So, never start planting without adding a bit of compost. Your plants will undoubtedly thank you with improved growth, better yields, and superior quality.

Tips for Success

To ensure the success of your fall garden, it’s essential to follow a few key tips. Thin out young seedlings a week or two after germination to give them ample space to grow. Although it can be difficult, removing healthy seedlings is necessary for optimal growth. Radishes, for instance, grow quickly and should be thinned within a few days to prevent overcrowding.

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In the case of carrots, it’s important to plant them at the right time. While planting guides suggest November to February as the ideal window, be mindful of the weather conditions. If it’s too cold, the carrots may not sprout until later. Patience is key! And remember, if you live in an apartment, even your balcony or patio can be transformed into a small garden. Just ensure your plants receive plenty of sunlight and use potting soil for improved drainage.

A Helpful Guide

For more detailed information on when to plant specific vegetables in Central Texas, refer to the handy planting guide below:

Planting Guide

Note: The above guide is reprinted with permission of the publisher from the July/August 2010 issue of Texas Gardener magazine. © Suntex Communications, 2010.

Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to get your hands dirty and start planting. Fall gardening in Texas is an opportunity to embrace nature’s bounty and savor the rewards of your labor. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this season promises to be a truly fruitful experience. Happy gardening!