Whoever said you can’t have a fall garden has never lived in Texas. In the Lone Star state we yearn for fall to arrive. It’s the time of year when we can ditch our shorts and sleeveless shirts for a pair of jeans, a plaid flannel shirt, and a pair of boots. If you have lived in the Austin area for at least a year or two by now you know fall doesn’t arrive until early November. Hot summers are followed by the equally warm months of September and October.
While our northern neighbors are raking acres of leaves Central Texas has the perfect climate for planting a second round of vegetables and herbs. For many of us planting a fall garden is a glorious seasonal ritual that produces an abundance of bright hues and fresh produce. Seasonal gardeners are in agreement that fall is the best season of all for a bountiful harvest. Even though the Texas weather and soil may have an alternative plan it is possible to have a thriving fall garden.
Fall garden tips
Before you plant there are a two things to consider. First, according to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, the Austin area falls in zones 8b and 9a. As somewhat of a bible for both novice and experienced gardeners and growers, the map provides a standard to determine the types of plants that will thrive in a particular location. Divided in zones it lists the average annual minimum winter temperatures that veggies and plants can withstand. For example, in zone 8b the temperature range is 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit. The fact is in Austin temperatures rarely dip below that range. Second, the Austin area has several different soil types. And depending on which side of town you live on it can be dramatically different. For a successful garden anytime of the year experts recommend enhancing the soil before you plant. By adhering to these two simple tips your fall veggies and herbs should have no problem growing to fruitful new heights.
Best vegetables to plant for your fall garden
When planting in the fall the general rule of thumb, according to experts, is to use transplants instead of seeds. However, if you didn’t have time to grow your own transplants a local gardening center should have them available. After you prepare the soil you’ll be ready to plant a variety of hearty veggies. To help you out we provided a list of veggies and their recommended planting times. We’re sure that if you start now they just might be ready for your Thanksgiving dinner table.
- Snap bush beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, potato – September 1
- Kohlrabi and summer squash – September 10
- Swiss chard – October 1
- Collards and leaf lettuce – October 10
- Beets – October 15
- Mustard, onion seed, turnips – November 1
- Carrots – November 1
- Radishes and spinach – November 15-25
Herbs have many uses. They enhance the flavor of our foods and recipes, are often used in fragrances, and possess medicinal properties. For the most part we use them to flavor our foods. When grown fresh they can be dried and preserved and used at a much later date. According to the Central Texas Gardener there are two categories of fall herbs in Texas. The first are those that can be planted but may need a little TLC and some protection. And then there are those that love to be planted. All you have to do is plant them and watch them grow. We’ve listed them both.
- These eight herbs can withstand the fall weather in Texas but be sure to watch for falling temps. They are basil, bay laurel, lemon grass, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, scented geranium, Thai lime and Rosemary.
- On the flip side these no fuss herbs love the fall weather. They include salad burnet, parsley, dill, chives, oregano, lovage, mint and cilantro.
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