Fall is for planting

Joette Reger of Garden Gate

Aren’t we the lucky ones! We get a chance to plant a home garden again in the fall. Yes, we get to garden again. Just when those Yankees are oiling and putting away all of their garden tools for next spring, we can prepare for a whole new crop. Fall gardens are much like spring gardens except that the fall vegetables and herbs are not so hot and thirsty all of the time.

Since the mid 1980s, nurserymen throughout the state of Texas have adopted the slogan, “Fall is for planting.” These plant people are trying to change the stereotypical thinking that spring is the only time to plant. Although you still find the greatest selection of plants in the nurseries in the spring, with some creative nurseries and online resources, the availability problems are shrinking.

So find yourself some plants and get that soil ready for fall while the weather is still warm but not hot. You are going to be rewarded with vegetables that are very flavorful. Shorter days cause sugars to concentrate in crops like corn and beans, according to the excellent resource Texas Gardener, producing naturally sweeter veggies. Also, weeding and watering are just more fun when it is not so darn hot and humid outside.

Texas Gardener suggests “cheating the heat” as often as often as possible. Plant into existing beds without tilling, if you can. If weeds are a problem, mulch over them with organic mulch or newspapers covered with a little soil.

Spring tomatoes can be trimmed back, mulched and top dressed with compost and fertilizer. Then pop in your new fall tomato plants. Other great fall plants that you can repeat from spring gardening are peppers and green beans.

Other good vegetables for cool weather gardening are broccoli, cabbage, English peas, potatoes, parsley, radish, garlic, Swiss chard, spinach, turnips, beets, collards, cauliflower and sugar snap peas. Always look for healthy, well-grown starter plants or a good brand of seed. Buy from a reputable nursery with an experienced staff.

Just like when you buy a new car or new shirt, inspect any plants before purchase. Look for a well-established root system without too much root showing outside of the pot. Make sure you have a spot where your new plants will get a full day of sun and water thoroughly when they need it. You could get lucky and have tomatoes at Christmas time!

Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached by e-mail at joreger [at] msn [dot] com and on Facebook at “Gardengate with Joette Reger.”