Fall and spring are the distinct vegetable growing seasons in our area. In the fall, we start planting at the end of the hot months to take advantage of the mild weather during the most productive time for the plants. Learn how to prep you garden for a bountiful fall harvest!
First, to start your fall garden, take some time for a thorough cleanup. Remove any summer vegetable plants, including tomatoes, that are no longer productive and thriving. Additionally, clear out any weeds to give yourself a blank slate.
At this point, you may wish to have your soil pH tested by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. By having your soil tested, you can identify the present nutrients. Elements like nitrogen and phosphorus may be inadequate or excessive. Following the assessment, you’ll be armed with the information you need to choose appropriate fertilizers and supplements.
Some other changes to make improvements may include:
- Improving draining to remove excess water
- Increasing the ability of the dirt to hold moisture
- Altering the pH of the soil to be more or less acidic or alkaline
- Increasing the amount of organic material
- Aerating dirt that may be compacted
- Protecting soil by applying mulch as a top layer
Regardless of your soil pH, you should work in a high-quality compost. Texas Heirloom Compost at Warren’s is a leaf mold formula aged for two years using local natural materials to achieve the best organic blend to improve soil health.
In addition to the high-quality compost, mix expanded shale into your soil. What is expanded shale? Expanded shale is a lightweight aggregate (similar to a rock), but heated at very high temperatures, so there are small pockets like popcorn. It helps break up heavy compacted soil to move air, water, and nutrients through the soil more efficiently.
Expanded shale is especially beneficial because it absorbs water during stretches of wet weather. Later, the shale releases moisture during dry times. So, it’s especially useful for gardens in the Houston area exposed to the extreme conditions we experience, which can either be too wet or too dry.
When your garden is thoroughly cleaned, that’s a great time to get rid of any prior insect infestations or prevent future problems. You can try an insecticidal soap spray or a heavy application of Diatomaceous Earth. If ants are an issue, you can treat any problem mounds by drenching them in orange oil.
Time to Plant
Once your fall garden is prepped, you can begin planting seeds or even some transplants in early August to mid-August, including corn, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, watermelon, and eggplant.
From mid-September through mid-October, you can plant cabbages, kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, lettuces, arugula, spinach, beans, and winter squash.
Some transplants can be planted three to four weeks after the specified time frames.
If you are interested in growing vegetables, but you’ve never given it a try, start with some easy tomatoes that are superstars in the heat, like Celebrity or Sunmaster. You can also visit with the experts at the Garden Center or call 281-354-6111. Give veggies a chance this fall and Warren’s Southern Gardens will get you growing!