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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Planning for a Fall Veggie Garden

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Joyce Friels

Local Gardening

 

Now is the best time to start soil preparation for your fall vegetable garden. Remove all dead summer crop foliage, till up soil and add fresh compost. Don’t leave any old  plants in the garden after the season is over. Warm season tomatoes can be planted in July for fall harvest. A fall garden is easy to manage since it matures and produces in our cooler days of autumn. Many fall crops store more sugar and have a better flavor when days get shorter and temperatures get cooler.

It is recommended that seeds of okra, peas, and beans be soaked overnight between two damp paper towels to encourage quicker germination when sown in hot weather. The small seeds of carrots should be covered lightly with mulch or compost to help them retain enough moisture to sprout. Add one to two weeks to the number of days to maturity listed on seed packet. Transplants should be given afternoon shade or a shade cloth to protect from hot sun rays. Adding a generous amount of mulch around each plant will help retain moisture and cut down on weeds.

One favorite fall crop is broccoli. It can withstand light freezes with our unpredictable fall weather. It likes extra nitrogen in the soil so add some every few weeks for a good crop. Green beans have a short window but they can be planted seventy-five days before the first average frost. They taste better after being exposed to cooler temperatures. Summer squash, like yellow and zucchini, can’t take freezing temperatures but it makes a good fall crop if planted early enough to bloom and produce in the warm days of October. Winter squash should be planted in June or July in order for it to mature and produce since it has a longer mature time. Cucumbers take sixty to seventy-five days to mature so plant early. They are frost sensitive but a favorite and produce in abundance. Carrots seeds take thirty to forty-five days to germinate in cool soil. But they thrive in very cool temperatures including a light snowfall.

In our attempts at vegetable gardening we were successful more times than not. We endured the hot summer days in anticipation of good crops in the autumn. I think they do taste better when grown in cooler temperatures. The biggest obstacle to having a successful fall garden is the Texas heat of July and August. When looking back, the reasons our vegetable garden didn’t produce as expected was that we waited too long to sow the seeds. They need time to germinate and mature. Also, watering is very important for good growth of transplants. Remember proper timing is the key to a harvesting bountiful fall crops.

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