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Fall Gardening in Texas

By Lara DeHaven

The end of September might be too late in most of the United States to finish planting your fall garden, but not here.  My children and I finally got the last row made and planted this week.  We are going to plant onions later in October, but other than that we are done with the preparation/planting phase.

We are looking forward to fresh cabbage and Swiss chard.  My oldest son hates broccoli, but he loves to eat freshly grown broccoli.  He is right; the latter tastes much better.  In addition to those wonderful vegetables, we have planted carrots, lettuce and spinach.  We have also planted two vegetables that we have never grown before.  We planted leeks, which is the main ingredient in a soup my husband loves.  We also planted kale.

As much as we are anticipating eating our fresh produce, we are excited about trying kale and leeks from our own garden.  It is fun to experiment and expand your repertoire.  We usually try to pick one or more new vegetables to try each gardening season.

If you have any suggestions for fall or spring vegetables that you think my family would enjoy, please let me know via email or by making a comment below.  We always appreciate your advice.

I was pleased when I went to our feed store to find a good selection of heritage seeds.  To me, it just shows that the demand for these seeds has grown.  Of course there are other ways to purchase these seeds.  Seed Savers Exchange and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange are two catalog companies that specialize in Heirloom and Heritage seeds.  Sign up on their sites to receive their catalogs.  Of course, there are other seed companies.  Trying to find one for your region would be ideal.

Gardening in the fall is my favorite.  The sun does not bake you or your plants.  It is a pleasure to work outside in this weather.  Our winter is usually mild.  The vegetables that we raise are pretty hardy.  We simply cover them up with old hay when a frost or freeze is coming in order to protect them.

So if you live in this region, you still have time to plant.  It is not too late.  I just wouldn’t tarry too long.  Find out for yourselves how pleasant a fall garden in Texas can be.

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12 Responses to “Fall Gardening in Texas”

  1. We are finishing up our Fall garden today and decided to try watermelon radishes as our new vegetable. We are excited to see what they will be like and how they will grown here. I am like you, I love Fall gardening! I decided to try to extend the life of my tomatoes too. Do you have any suggestions for extending them? I’m wondering if I should move them to my greenhouse. Happy Gardening! : )

  2. Adrienne

    I’m back living in Rockport now and I’m harvesting the blackeyed peas to eat green and the okra, both of which I planted in August. With all the rain and this wacky front my scallop squash are the size of quarters due to lack of pollination, and the rest of the summer squash are sitting around looking iffy. I planted Fall peppers and tomatoes, but they have been disoriented by the rain and cool so early. Do I give up and pull them? I’m scared now! I’m thinking about planting cabbage, broccoli, carrots? Too early? Maybe kohlrabi, my old standby!!
    Let me tell you, if anyone can grow down here, they can grow ANYWHERE!!!
    Anyone able to help???

  3. Lara DeHaven

    I would eventually move your tomatoes into a greenhouse. For me, tomato plants have always grown well and developed good fruit. The issue in the fall is whether they will have enough time to ripen before a frost gets them. Since I don’t have a greenhouse, typically we will have fried green tomatoes the night before the predicted frost.

  4. Lara DeHaven

    I would definitely plant cabbage, broccoli and carrots. It is not too early. Unless you need the space, I would not give up on your peppers and tomatoes. If you need the space to plant, I would consider pulling them. I don’t know anything about kohlrabi so I cannot help you with that; however, you sound like you could teach me a thing or two about that vegetable.

  5. Lanae

    Just wondering if you start your own plants from seeds and then transplanted or do you buy broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower from the farm store? We have had some success with this but not enough feel confident that we can depend of these seedlings to provide for our family. We live in the same area as you so likely face the same challenges you might and do not have a greenhouse. I do have two shelves in our garage that my husband has placed shop lights for our baby seedlings. Any suggestions?

  6. Lara DeHaven

    I have started seeds in a Jiffy green house box to transplant outdoors in the early Spring. In the summer and fall, we plant seeds in the soil outdoors and only transplant tomato plants. A really cool idea that I saw and want to devote an article to is a very simple green house for your garden made of hay bales and a large window. Even without that set-up, mild winters have not affected our garden adversely. We do cover our tender plants with old hay in the evening before a frost and uncover them after it warms up.
    I hope this answers your question.

  7. Adrienne

    Thanks for all the help.I’m over my little panic attack. Feel much better for having “vented”! I will go with your advice on cabbage, broccoli and carrots. My boys retilled what they could with the 4-wheeler tiller yesterday, and I mulched with hay what I have.
    Tomorrow I will electric-till and form the beds.
    It occured to me today while weeding and thinking about my post that I had not prayed to the Lord of the Harvest yet about prospering my efforts. Everything seems huge when I don’t rely on him to help me do it one step at a time!

  8. Lara DeHaven

    I love what you said about the Lord of the Harvest. Our family always prays after we plant for an abundance to feed our own family and to be able to give to others fresh and nourishing vegetables. You have made me think that we should pray before we even plant. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Larry Johnson

    I planted chard and onion seeds a month ago the chard and brocclie also lettuce and carrotts did not do well . The winter squash which I assumed were frost proof all died . Hmmm any advice would be welcome NEW to THIS

  10. Lara DeHaven

    First of all, I have not had any luck raising onions from seeds. I have great success planting onion sets, which are just tiny, baby onion plants. Considering the date that you submitted this comment, I am assuming that you planted this seed at the end of Thanksgiving. Usually in Texas this is too late. The seeds don’t have enough warm days to germinate and get going well. Some people plant late August and September. Others choose to plant late September-early October. The latter is when my family chooses to plant.
    This winter has been a typical Texas winter. Bitterly cold one night and hot the next day. You have to really watch the weather to make sure that your crops are not frozen back. On nights when there will be a long freeze, I cover my plants with hay or plastic. Don’t leave on indefinitely or the plants will die from lack of sunlight. Don’t forget to water well either.
    Early spring gardens need to be planned for and planted soon. Potatoes for example are traditionally planted by Valentine’s Day. Don’t give up on gardening. Keep reading and most importantly trying. You will be successful.

  11. Adrienne

    Larry, I try to stick to the multi-season standbys in case the weather goes nuts on me. I grow chard year-round,kohlrabi year-round, collards year-round, plant a good-sized stand of okra that generally provides fresh okra for the Thanksgiving dinner, leave it there to use as pea-poles in January when I plant snap peas. I plant carrots in September and have some good-sized ones by January,that being the next planting time for carrots.I plant blackeyed peas to use as green beans when young and tender as soon as the heat kills everything but the “standbys” in July or August.We use these for green beans(best broiled with garlic/butter/olive oil/onion or sauteed like that with slivered carrots)and they will last up to the end of November as well. Sweet potatoes go in in March to be harvested in September. Then if I plant other stuff that doesn’t work out, we’ll still have SOMETHING fresh to eat!

    Onion sets are best and garlic cloves when planted do very well. Like Lara said, our weather extremes go back and forth from hot to cold to moist to dry that it is a challenge to get some things up before the “window” closes. This realization came to me after missing the window and doing without that vegetable for the year even after having planted many feet of row 3 and 4 times without success(I am stubborn!!)

    A SUPER book is Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening
    J. Howard Garrett
    It includes regions of the state and fall and spring planting times, as well as tips on protecting against our potentially harsh climates
    here in Texas.

    A good publication is Texas Gardener Magazine and their website is good, too.

    Hope all this helps!!

  12. Lara DeHaven

    Wow, Adrienne. Thank you for replying to Larry’s question so thoroughly. I appreciate the book recommendation, too.


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