What’s my favorite season? Easy peasy. FALL. Jacket wearing, college football cheering, leaf rustling, turkey roasting, Halloween mini-Snickers sneaking—Fall!
This lovely autumnal season is so much more than pulling up summer-scorched annuals and popping in mums for a few weeks. At a time when northern gardeners are closing up shop for the winter, Texas gardeners have realized that the fall months may very well be the best time of the year to plant.
Think about it. A Sweet Innocent Perennial you might plant in the spring is just being lined up for the furnace blast of summer from late May through August. It’s hard to even survive—much less thrive–in temperatures in the 100s, no rainfall, and nighttime lows that hover in the 80s. But if you’re a savvy gardener and plant that same Sweet Innocent in the fall, you’ve tucked it in when the future holds cooling temperatures and more frequent rain. Voila. Plant Success.
Most plants will put on a fall flush of growth and bloom in fall weather conditions. Roses can be spectacular in the fall, often with blooms more vibrant than spring or summer. Trim roses back now, fertilize, and give a deep soaking to promote bloom.
If you’re planting a fall school garden with kids, it’s time to get busy. If you want a warm season garden, plant bush beans and pinto beans by seed until September 15. Be sure to baby your seeds; they need to be kept moist until they sprout and are established.
Fall is Prime Time for cool season crops, those vegetables that love a nip in the air in November and December. Plant beets, spinach, lettuce, and carrots by seed now through October 15. Kids love transplants; they’re veggies in miniature. Plant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower transplants now through late-November. Mustard greens, Swiss chard, spinach, parsley, leeks and kale transplants can be tucked in the garden from September 15 through the winter. (Harvest your warmer season crops in late October, then plant cole transplants for a continued harvest.)
Spring flowering bulbs can be a fun thing to plant with kids. Purchase your bulbs now when nurseries start stocking bulbs, but wait on planting them until soil temperatures cool significantly, for us in mid- to late-November. Daffodils are probably your best bet with kids. They are dependable, don’t require pre-chilling (like tulips), and some will naturalize. The Southern Bulb Co. in Golden, Texas is known for propagating old varieties of bulbs, often found in deserted homesteads.
The best reason to garden in the fall is to enjoy it. Your garden is filled with new blooms and growth. Pests have taken a vacation with the cool temperatures. So nibble a bit of early Halloween candy and enjoy the season.