Dig in now: Get ready for fall gardening
August 19, 2004
Victoria County Master Gardener
While it hardly seems like time to be thinking about fall, it is time to prepare for the fall vegetable garden, which in some cases is very similar to gardening in the spring.
Most vegetables that grow in the spring garden in South Central Texas will also grow well in the fall. Some, such as cauliflower, cabbage, carrots and broccoli, will do even better in the cool nights and warm days of fall. It has been said by some gardeners that the spring garden is just practice for your fall garden.
Soil condition is always very important when planting a vegetable garden. Adding liberal amounts of composted material helps keep the soil pliable and helps lower the pH in alkaline soils in this area of the state. Additional nutrients can also be added to poor soils. Using fertilizers, either organic or chemical, at the proper rate will build the soil for the fall garden.
Proper planting is very important. The most important water your crops will get is the pre-plant irrigation necessary if it has not rained an inch or more in the week prior to planting. Give the ground a deep soaking. Plant seeds slightly deeper than their width (not more than three times their width), and cover them with a light mulch of hay or pine needles to give them a slightly cooler environment.
Transplants can be protected with shade structures such as old shingles or license plates placed on the southwest side of the plant. New plants should be mulched with about 2 inches of material to help moderate the hot temperatures. Organic matter such as hay, leaves, grass clippings or sawdust will increase water filtration and will add organic matter as it decomposes.
Selecting proper plant varieties is very important. There are many different
varieties of garden vegetables available, but only a few varieties of any one
vegetable are well suited to our particular area of
Fall garden plant varieties recommended by Texas Cooperative Extension for planting in our area are illustrated in the chart with this article. Note that several varieties are listed where available.
The second illustration is a fall direct seeding guide and a transplant guide indicating the last optimum dates that planting should occur if maximum yield and high quality are expected. These dates are based on the average date of the first killing frost of fall for our area. Notice that direct seeding dates precede transplant dates by three to four weeks.
Often the weather is too hot for vegetable seeds to germinate. The optimum soil temperature for seeds of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, corn, okra, cantaloupe, pumpkin, squash, turnips and watermelon is 90 degrees F. Seeds of snap beans, beets, carrots, eggplant, onion, pepper, radish and tomato love a soil temperature of 85 degrees. Lima beans, lettuce, parsley, parsnips, peas and spinach will not tolerate soil temperatures above 85 degrees, but will thrive when the soil temperature is 75 degrees.
This means it will be hard to germinate seeds of some vegetables at the proper time. Use transplants of these crops instead.
When establishing your garden plot, plant long-term, frost tolerant vegetables together including beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots cauliflower, chard, collards, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, spinach and turnips.
Group short-term, frost susceptible vegetables together so that they can be removed when they become damaged by frost. Vegetables in this second group include beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, summer peas, tomatoes and watermelons.
Fall vegetable gardens have some advantages over the spring garden, such as cooler temperatures during most of the growing season, fewer problems with insects, and more comfortable working conditions for the gardener.
Stay tuned for next week's article on garden-grown tomatoes. While it is time to transplant tomato seedlings, if you opt to grow tomatoes from purchased plants instead, it is recommended to plant them immediately and definitely by the end of this month. Next week's article will provide all kinds of tips on growing tomatoes in your fall garden.
And speaking of fall gardening ... look for upcoming
information on the Victoria County Master Gardener Fall Symposium and Plant
Sale planned for Saturday, Sept. 18. It will be at the
Don't let this fall season jump-start you! Dig in NOW and plant some veggies, make plans to attend the symposium, and decide what plants you want from the plant sale for very reasonable prices. Fall will be here before we know it!
Asparagus UC 157, Jersey Giant,
Beans Snap: Topcrop,
Pinto: UI-114, Dwarf Horticultural, Luna
Broccoli Packman, Baccus, Green Comet
Cauliflower Snow Crown
Cabbage Jade Pagoda, Monument,
Cucumbers Slicers: Poinset 76, Sweet Success, Dasher II, Sweet Slice
Oriental Eggplant Tycoon
Greens Collards: Blue Max,
Chard: Lucullus, Ruby
Kale Vates, Blue Knight
Lettuce Crisp head:
Loose leaf: Prizehead, Red Sails, Black-Seeded Simpson
Butter head: Buttercrunch
Honey Dew: TAM Dew, Honey Star
Mustard Green Wave, Tendergreen, Southern Giant Curl
Okra Clemson Spineless, Lee, Emerald
Green: Evergreen Bunching, Crystal Wax
Peppers Bell: Supersweet 860, Capistrano
Hot: TAM Mild Jalepeno, TAM
Sweet Jalepeno-shaped: Rio Grande Gold
Potatoes Irish: Red LaSoda, Norland
Sweet: Beauregard, TAMU Corder, Centennial, Jewel
Pumpkin Large: Connecticut Field, Big Max
Medium: Jack OLantern, Funny Face
Radish Cherry Belle, Sparkler, White Icicle
Southern Peas Purple hulls: TX Pink Eye
Cream: Cream 40, Champion
Summer Sweet 7800, Sweet G-90,
Tomatoes Bingo VF, Carnival VF, Heatwave VF, Celebrity VFNT,
Surefire VF, SunMaster VF, and 444.
Cherry Tomatoes Small Fry, Cherry Grande
Turnips White Lady, Royal Globe II
Watermelon Standard: Jubilee, Royal
Seedless: Tri X-133, King of Hearts
Fall Direct Seeding Guide
Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers
Southern peas: Black-eyed, cream, purple hull, crowder
Beans, snap bush, sweet corn, cucumbers
Swiss chard, collards
Beets, parsley, leaf lettuce
Mustard greens, onion, radish, spinach, turnip
Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage