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East Texas AG News: Ready to prepare for fall vegetable gardening

East Texas Ag News: Time to start planning for the fall garden
East Texas Ag News: Time to start planning for the fall garden
Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 4:41 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - About this time of year, spring planted gardens are winding down. The heat of summer is here and the soil is drying up. And yet this is the perfect time to prepare for your fall garden.

We all know that vegetable gardening can be rewarding, relaxing and good exercise. But I think all too many folks overlooked the fact that there are indeed two optimal times to have a vegetable garden each year: spring and fall. Yes, the fall vegetable garden is just as much a possibility as a spring one, just different. It will be different in a number of ways.

Establishing a fall garden is different as you have to work in the heat up-front. This will be to your advantage as warm soils help germinate vegetable plants much sooner than cooler spring soil temperatures.

Watering is also approached with a different mind-set. Water will be crucial to establishing the summer growing vegetables. Germinated seeds in July and August will need uniform moisture and plenty of it. Mulching, a practice not often done for spring gardens will really help here. Just a light layer of mulch will greatly aid in keeping moisture in the soil next to the developing roots.

Pest control for fall gardens will be less. Insect problems that are commonly experienced in the spring will be reduced. Disease issues that arise from cool, moist environments on newly emerging seedlings will also be diminished.

The biggest proponents of fall vegetable gardens will always brag on the harvest. Harvested produce the fall, in milder weather, are reported to taste better. The time spent harvesting, choosing which tomato or what size cucumber to pick, is obviously more comfortably done.

Of great importance is your planning. Most vegetables traditionally grown in the spring/summer have a hard deadline. They must beat the frost. Now, the average first frost for this area is mid-November. The key word is average. Sometimes it may be near Christmas, and other times it will be prior to Halloween. So, when choosing what to plant, keep in mind how long it takes each vegetable to reach harvest stage.

Southern peas (purple hulls, zipper creams, etc.) normally take about 60 days. Counting backwards from a mid-October harvest puts the planting at mid-August.

Pumpkins need about 90 days and radish is just over a month.

The bottom line is that here in east Texas our spring and fall gardening seasons are short, sandwiched between frosts and blistering hot summer conditions that cause many crops to stop production. Variety selection and proper planting time are critical to success.

To help you with your fall gardening plans, visit the site http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu or you can search for “aggie horticulture” and be taken to the main page. From there you’ll find a great supply of gardening information.

Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu .

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