Fall Vegetable Gardening

Fall Vegetable Gardening

Fall Vegetable Gardening by Carol Wood

One of the best seasons for gardening is right around the corner.  The cooler weather , dwindling insect population and fall rains make for great gardens.  Vegetables, such as tomato, cabbage, beans or greens, maturing in cooler weather, will be sweeter and better tasting.  Now is the time to prepare for a fall vegetable garden.

One may be surprised by how many vegetables can be grown at this time. Bush green bean seeds  planted now should be on your table in October and November.  Blue Lake, Contender, and Tendercrop are varieties that do well here. Bush varieties usually mature in 8 weeks.  However, make sure you allow a little extra time for fall vegetables to mature just in case of an unexpected early frost. Since green beans produce their own nitrogen , be careful not to over fertilize which will result in lovely plants and no beans! They will respond to a light application of fertilizer when they are about 6 to 8 inches tall.I n general, beans need half as much fertilizer as all other garden vegetables.

Mustard, kale, turnips, collards and carrots planted now should be ready to eat in November.  By harvesting only the outside leaves of the leafy vegetables, you  will have fresh wonderful tasting greens till spring. Collards are a favorite at our house.  Last winter, we had collards enough to share and freeze for summer eating.  The recipients say these were the best collards they had ever eaten.

Spinach was another success in my small garden.  Having had germination problems in the past, I soaked the seeds for an hour before planting which improved germination tremendously.   I enjoy the crinkly leafed spinach.  My neighbor, Ila Jean Carothers, prefers the flat leaf spinach which out grows mine in size each year. Plant the seeds in moist soil and cover with compost or potting soil which will not crust over. (Seedlings have difficulty breaking  through a hard soil crust.)  For great  summer eating, immerse the washed spinach in boiling water for about 2 minutes, drain and immerse immediately  in ice water.  Freeze the drained spinach.  It is wonderful eating!

As it cools in September, add beets, radishes , spinach, and cucumbers to your garden.   Leafy vegetables can be planted thru November.  English peas for spring harvest may be planted in November or December.  One of my favorite fall vegetables, broccoli, will be available as transplants in the fall. Packman and Green Comet do well here.  Homegrown broccoli and ‘store bought’ are two different vegetables at our house.  If you grow a couple of plants this year, you will grow many more next year.

As the Master Gardeners say, remember to mix in a layer of compost before planting. The compost loosens clay and holds water in sandy soils. Compost also slowly breaks down and becomes a nutrient source for the plants.  A good rule of thumb is to never plant anything without adding a bit of compost.  Your plants will reward you with improved growth, better yields, and improved quality.

Young seedlings should be thinned  a week or two after germination.  As hard as it feels to remove healthy seedlings from a garden, your plants will benefit because they  need air and space for the roots to expand.  Radishes must be thinned within two or three days.  The radish, which can mature in a month, grows quickly and will just stop expanding if another radish is too close. (Tip: Sow a week’s worth of radishes each week.  They all mature at the same time.)

The first time I planted carrots, I could not bear to thin them and harvested pencil thin slivers .  Last January, I planted two varieties – Danvers, half long and Nates Coreless which do well here.  According to the planting guides, carrots can be planted from November to February.  They did not come up until March! It must have been too cold for them.  Strangely, I pulled large tasty carrots in June.   This fall, I will plant them in November  hope for carrots about 70 days later.

If you live in an apartment, try a few vegetables in large pots on your balcony or patio.  Just be sure they get lots of sunlight.  Lettuce will grow well with less sun than the other winter vegetables.  Make sure you have good drainage and use potting soil in the pots.  Our natural soil would not drain well in pots.

There are many other vegetables one can grow in the fall.  Check the Central Texas planting guide below:

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from the July/August 2010 issue of Texas Gardener magazine. © Suntex Communtications, 2010.*(Their lawyer requires this sentence in order to use the chart.)


Planting Date

Beans, Snap Bush

September 1

Beans, Lima Bush

August 20


October 15


September 1

Brussels Sprouts

September 1




November 10


September 1

Chard, Swiss

October 1


October 10

Corn, sweet

August 20


September 1


July 1


September 10

Leaf Lettuce

October 10


November 1

Onion (seed

November 1

Peas, Southern

August 1


July 1


September 1


August 1


November 25


November 15

Squash, Summer

Sept 10

Tomato, plants

July 1


November 1


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