It’s hot, but fall veggie gardening is right around the corner

Can you believe we are just weeks away from August?  And although we are all sweltering in the Texas summer heat, it’s actually time to start thinking about your fall vegetable garden. 

I know … just mowing the lawn or pulling a weed right now can be as pleasant as a visit to the dentist. But, if you want a fall vegetable garden, you should be getting busy today, despite the heat.

August is the ideal time to plant many types of vegetables for fall gardens. Unfortunately, many novice gardeners, and many veterans new to Houston, miss this opportunity. If you wait until temperatures have moderated to plant veggies, many will not have had time to reach maturity before cold or freezing weather arrives.

In addition, if you don’t already have a raised bed set up for fall a veggie garden, you should build it today – it’ll need a few weeks of “mellowing,” so things you plant don’t burn up when the summer heat combines with over-active soil. 

So, let’s start with what we can plant as early as August.

Whenever possible, choose early maturing vegetables for the fall garden. They can be planted after early summer vegetables have been harvested, and they’ll be ready to pick before freezing weather. Transplants are best since we are already at the autumn doorstep. The following can be seeded or transplanted August through September:                                           

  • Bush and pole beans (8/1 - 9/15)
  • Lima beans (8/1 - 9/15)
  • Broccoli transplants (8/1 - 9/15)
  • Brussels sprouts (8/1 - 10/1)
  • Cabbage transplants (8/1 - 9/15)
  • Chinese cabbage (8/15 - 9/15)
  • Carrots (8/15 - 10/15)
  • Cauliflower transplants (8/15 - 9/15)
  • Swiss chard (8/1 - 10/15)
  • Sweet corn (8/1 - 8/15)
  • Cucumber (8/1 - 9/15)
  • Kohlrabi (8/15 - 9/15)
  • Parsley (8/15 - 10/1)
  • Irish potatoes (8/15 - 9/15)
  • Summer squash (8/1 - 8/15)

Remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate shelters for insects and disease organisms. Peppers and tomatoes planted earlier this year will not set fruit during the heat of summer, even though they may still be flowering. If the plants remain healthy, they will set fruit again once daily temperatures stay below 90 degrees. Side-dress established, healthy plants with fertilizer to encourage new growth, and keep them watered. Tomatoes covered with spider mites are not worth saving.

And when it comes to the bed, be sure to review a tip sheet I wrote in May 2017 - especially if you’re new to fall vegetable gardening on the Gulf Coast. It’s actually an article about spring gardens, but it nicely details how to build the perfect raised bed.

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