Fall is really the best
vegetable season in south central Texas. The big commercial farmers
have their best crops in the fall. At Garden-Ville, back when we farmed
vegetables, it was always good for us.
The first thing, get rid
of all the non-productive, old, disease and insect infested vegetable
plants. Buried deep in a compost pile is the best place for them.
If you don't have a big compost pile make one. Chop the old
plants into small enough particles so you can cover them with at least
four inches or more of good commercial compost, preferable one made
with some manure. This will pasteurize it and make good fertilizer
for the spring garden.
lettuce, beets, broccoli, cabbage, collards, all the brassicas or
crucifers do best in the fall as the days get shorter and cooler,
also they are a lot more nutritious and taste better. They don't
quickly bolt and go to seed and the harlequin bugs, their biggest
nuisance, won't come near them in the fall. Red spider mites
and many other insects are less troublesome when the days start getting
shorter and cooler
Fall is the best, and in
some cases the only, time to plant winter squash. Summer squash also
does good in the fall because the squash vine borer may never appear
.The squash vine borer has a strong spring generation and some years
doesn't even have a second or fall generation, if it does, it
is usually weaker.
Carrots, beets, turnips
and other root crops are more favorable and nutritious in the fall.
However, potatoes are very slow to sprout in the fall. Tomatoes do
excellent in the fall and that is when they taste the very best, but
the problem is getting them to turn red on the vine. However, fried
green tomatoes are good eating. If an early frost is predicted, pick
all large tomatoes and keep them spread out in a ventilated place
or you can pull up the vine tomatoes and all and hang it in the garage
or shed where it can't freeze. They will ripen slowly, and you
may be eating red tomatoes from your fall garden into next year.
To prepare the soil, till
in 1 to 3 inches of well aged compost as deep as your tiller or spade
will reach. If you don't have compost, till in an organic fertilizer.
After you have tilled the soil with the compost or fertilizer it is
best, but not absolutely necessary, to wet the area and let it set
for a week or so, if you have the time to spare, without running your
vegetable maturity time short. The maturity time is usually on each
Organic fertilizers are
always best in the garden. The n-p-k numbers are not as critical.
Organics are less soluble, you can use higher than recommended rates
without burning and they last longer. Chemical fertilizers are ok
in organic rich composted soils; a lawn winterizer would be fine for
After the transplants are
in and the seeds are up, the most important thing is mulch mulch mulch.
In the garden always use a finer mulch than you would use around shrubs
or trees. Any type will do as long as it doesn't have too many
weed seeds or possible diseases. If the mulch is too fresh such as
wood shavings use some compost between it and the soil to prevent
a nutrient tie up which could turn the plants yellow and slow their
Remember plants that bloom
before they fruit need a lot of sun light, especially morning sun.
Also the bigger the bloom the more sun is required. Leafy vegetables
like lettuce and cabbage can tolerate shade but still need some sun.
Expect some failures in
the garden. Failures are necessary learning experiences and they make
successes a lot sweeter. Have fun. Every garden season is a new experience.
Besides good exercise, gardening is the only place where you can have
your cake and eat it too.