You may think that gardening for the year is over once you’ve harvested the last summer crop, but think again. During the fall, gardeners in Central Texas will (hopefully) begin to see cooler temperatures. After months of scorching hot weather, October and November start to offer up cool nights and bearable days. With a few minor preparations, a fall vegetable garden can be planted in late September or early October.
Follow these simple steps and you can enjoy fresh vegetables during the winter months:
Prepare the soil
Be sure to break up garden soil several inches deep – at least 3 to 6 inches – so seedlings can take root. Mix compost into the soil. If you don't compost, purchase bags of soilless potting mix and mix it in with the soil.
Fall weather in Central Texas is still hot, and mulching helps trap moisture around plant roots. Always use a natural mulch like grass cuttings, straw, or leaves. Avoid using pebbles, shredded rubber, or anything else that doesn't "breathe".
If the ground dries out between watering, vegetable plants will grow irregularly and may become diseased.
Choose vegetables that are considered cool weather crops
Broccoli, greens, squash, peas, beans, and root vegetables, like beets, green onions, and turnips do well in fall gardens. Another not-so-obvious choice is the tomato plant. Tomatoes can suffer in the brutal Texas summer sun, but tend to flourish during the fall. For best results, plant your tomatoes in containers, so you can move them into the garage or house during cold weather.
Plant all seedlings before November
If you plant any later, seedlings may not have time to grow and bear fruit before possible cold snaps arrive in January. In the increasingly rare event of a freeze in Central Texas, be prepared to cover all plants with breathable coverings overnight, like old sheets, cotton table cloths, or pillow cases, and remove them once temperatures are above freezing.
Happy Fall, y’all!