Janet Laminack, County Extension Agent-Horticulture
As I left town for a few days, I said my goodbyes to all my plants. I knew it was going to be hot and dry and didn’t want to burden my cat sitter with caring for my plants as well. Besides that, typically I have a “I just can’t even” gardening period in August which means survival of the fittest out there. As I write this, we are hoping for some much-needed rain from Hurricane Laura. If we get “some” rain and not a deluge, we will be in good shape for some fall gardening.
Fall is the best time to plant trees and some say it’s the best time for us to grow vegetables. Gardening in the fall is a gamble, which is exactly like gardening in every other season. In this case, you are hoping you can get your plants established in this heat and able to produce before we get a killing frost. Our average first frost is November 16. On your seed packet, it will tell you how long until harvest for that vegetable. A pumpkin seed will need around 100 days (14 weeks) before you are harvesting pumpkins. Radishes need around 10 minutes; as the late great Extension specialist Dr. Sam Cotner used to say, “If you can’t grow radish, we can’t help ya.” The truth is that radishes are near instant gratification in that they germinate quickly and are ready to harvest in 3 to 4 weeks. For this reason, they are a great candidate for succession planting. That means that every week, you put out some seed so that your harvest is staggered. Who wants 50 radishes in one week?
Another thing to keep in mind is that some veggies can survive a frost or temperature below 32 degrees. Those include radish, leaf lettuce, beets, carrots, parsley, cauliflower, and cabbage. But, others are really in a race to produce before the frost such as beans, squash, pumpkins, peppers, cucumbers, tomato, and okra.
We are a bit late for some vegetables, but go for it if you are daring. Tomatoes and pepper transplants should be planted already if you refer to planting guides. I am still going to put a tomato in for the fall. I’m a risk taker. Now is the time to plant bush beans, cucumbers, and even summer squash.
This is also a prime time to get shrubs and perennials established. Fruit trees are often planted bare-root in the winter. Check out “Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs” under the North Texas Gardening tab on dcmga.com to learn more. Aggie Horticulture Facebook Live has some recorded videos on fall gardening at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fblive. The 9th Annual Texas Fruit conference will be online this year on September 21 and 22. More information can be found at denton.agrilife.org under Urban Horticulture, Upcoming Events. This is a great opportunity to experience expert education on fruit growing from the comfort of your own home! Our help desk is here to assist with your gardening questions, so don’t hesitate to contact 940-349-2892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension provides equal opportunities in its programs and employment to all persons, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating.