Despite heat, time to think fall veggie gardens

I had this fun conversation with a recent new arrival from New York …

New Yorker:  Yeah, while I love what I get for my money down here, I’m not liking this heat.

Me: Here’s your trade-off: We get to garden pretty much year-round, and while you’d be suffering from snow, ice and freezing temps - and rarely going outside November through March - we’ll be enjoying production from our fall veggie gardens and citrus.  Especially November through January! Oh, and still playing golf!!

New Yorker:  When in hell are you supposed put in a fall vegetable when it’s this hot!?

Me:  August.

New Yorker:  Youse guys are crazy!

Me:  Y’all are bunch of snowflakes!!!

When I said August, the dumbfounded look that rolled across his face was priceless.   Yes, my GardenLine faithful, as we jump into August it’s time to start thinking about fall veggie gardens.  The point is, if you want one, you should be getting busy despite the heat.

August is a prime time to plant many types of vegetables here.  That also means it’s time to build those beds, if you’re just getting started. 

Unfortunately, many novice gardeners … and many veterans who are new to Houston … overlook this opportunity to have a fall garden. If you hold off planting until temperatures have moderated, many vegetables will not have time to reach maturity before the onset of cold and freezing weather. 

Whenever possible, choose early-maturing vegetables for the fall garden. They can be planted after early-summer vegetables have been harvested and still be ready to pick before freezing weather. Transplants are best at this point since we are already at the doorstep of September. 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)

Some additional advice on veggies and herbs during August…

  • 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 they remain healthy, they will set fruit again once 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 if you are so new to fall vegetable gardening on the Gulf Coast that you don't know the importance of building raised beds, then please read this tip sheet all about making the perfect kind.  It’s also wise to let newly built beds rest or mellow for a couple of weeks before planting seeds or installing transplants.

GardenLine with Randy Lemmon

GardenLine with Randy Lemmon

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