This is a gardening alert: It is time to be planting that Fall garden you’ve been thinking about – at least if you live in North Texas, like I do. I know it’s still hot, but gear up and get out there.
Here in Texas we have a nice long Fall growing season, starting in late August and going until the first freeze – usually sometime in December. And since we start out good and warm in that time window, we aren’t limited to just cool weather plants. Fact is, you can grow just about anything in the Fall in Texas, as long as you get it growing soon enough for it to mature to harvest before it is killed off by a hard freeze. The good news is that there are lots of plants that mature quickly enough for that and lots that are cold hardy enough to handle a few light freezes – unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of cross over between the two lists.
To help make it easier for you to plan your Fall garden, here is a list of common garden plants and roughly how long it takes each to mature:
The Fastest Garden Growers (mature in 30 to 60 days)
Beets, Bush Beans, Chard, Kale, Leaf Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Radishes, Spinach, Summer Squash (yes you can plant it in the Fall), Turnips, Turnip Greens
The “Middle of the Road” Growers – speed-wise (mature in 60 to 80 days)
Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Chard, Cherry tomatoes, Cucumbers, Corn, Green onions, Kohlrabi, Lime beans, Okra, Parsley, Peppers
The Slow Growers (mature in 80 days or more)
Brussels Sprouts, Bulb onions, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Eggplant, Garlic, Irish potatoes, Pumpkins, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter squash
Now, the other important part of the equation as you choose what to plant for the Fall, is which things are the most frost tolerant and which aren’t. By comparing the two list, you can see things like Kale grow fast and hold up well to the frost…so if you like Kale it’s a great Fall choice. But Eggplant takes a long time to mature, and is not frost tolerant, so might be a bit of a gamble in the Fall.
Here are some of the common garden crops that tend to be frost tolerant, but that will still die off in a hard freeze:
Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Collard greens, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions, Parsley, Spinach, Turnips
And here are the garden crops that are not frost tolerant – these guys will perish if the temps just touch freezing:
Beans, Cantaloupe, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Okra, Peas, Peppers, Irish potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Squashes – both winter and summer, Tomatoes, Watermelons
Another thing to keep in mind, is that here in North Texas we get a few very short dips to freezing in the first part of Winter – and usually don’t get long hard freezes until after New Year. Those plants that aren’t frost tolerant may die during that dip, even though temps after that climb back up and the plant would have been fine. That means that if you can keep your frost susceptible plants warm for those tiny dips in the first part of the Winter, you can sometimes keep them alive and producing for a little longer. You can use frost blankets and cloches, or, you can try what I did last year, Christmas lights – the old school ones that get warm, not the new LED ones. I draped them all around my delicate plants and they came through those short dips to freezing just fine.
Whatever you decide to plant, it’s time to do it now…so stop reading my blog and get to it!