Out With the Old, in With the New-Fall Gardening in Central Texas
We are so lucky here in Central Texas that we are able to grow vegetables year round. However, it takes a little prep and planning. It’s still boiling lava hot outside, but you’ve gotta get out there to get ready for the next major planting season and to ensure fresh veggies for your Thanksgiving feast!
You’ll first need to clear out the plants from spring/summer season. Remove all plants, except maybe okra and cherry tomatoes if the foliage still seems fresh and healthy. Next, turn over the soil to a depth of about 12 inches. Add and till into your soil a healthy amount of compost and organic matter such as grass clippings and dead leaves, This will add nutrients and stimulate soil microorganisms. A soil test can be helpful in determining if any other soil amendments (bone meal, greensand, etc.) are needed. The Travis County Extension Office offers free soil-testing packets for area residents.
Monitor the sunlight patterns over your garden throughout the day before you decide what to plant and where. The spots in your garden that had full sun in the spring and summer may now be shady. Some plants such as tomatoes, peppers and squash will require a full 8 hours of direct sun. some other vegetable such as greens, broccoli cauliflower and root crops will produce fairly well in the semi-shaded areas.
Austin has a garden zone readiness between zone 8 and zone 9. Choosing the right vegetables that grow well in these zones is important.This includes most greens, root crops, lettuces and all members of the brassicacea family – the mustard family, cabbage family, crucifers or just brassicas – including kale, collards, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, Chinese broccoli (seriously – try Gai Lan if you get a chance) and mustard greens. These guys produce and keep on producing – just take one or two leafs at a time from each plant, and move on to the next.
Because of the heat and sun, it is extremely difficult to keep the soil surface moist enough to sprout seedlings. With many of the brassicas, it is best to start these guys in 4” pots or soil blocks. Or just allow the pros around here to grow the starts for you and get them in September (YardFarm starts hundreds of plants each season and we cheerfully deliver). You will start seeing these in September at all quality area nurseries.
There are 3 major planting calendars in this area. They all tell a slightly different story and each probably applies to some years more then others. Check ‘em out: Austin Organic Gardeners , Travis County Extension Service , and the Travis County calendar from A&M. Have fun and call us or the extension service with any questions. We would be happy to come out and talk gardening or bring you plants any time!