Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Fall Guide For Southern Gardeners

It is my hope to compile all the information you need to plan your fall and winter garden on one page.

Everyone is in a zone that reflects the climate where you live. 

Find Your Hardiness Zone

There are some areas that have a shorter growing season and some areas that can garden year round and many that are in between. 

Find Your Average Frost Date

The success of your fall garden is really all about timing. You will be counting down to the first average frost date for your area. 

Keeping in mind that weather can be unpredictable, we can still have a good harvest in fall if we break down the hardiness and maturing dates of the crops we want to grow. We can do that by breaking it down into two simple groups.

Long Term Crops
First there is the Long Term Crops, which means they are plants that will grow longer into the season and hold up to some frosty weather depending on their hardiness.

 These are usually your leafy greens and some of the root crops. Frost- tolerant vegetables include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collards, garlic, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, spinach and turnips.

Short Term Crops

Second is the Short Term Crops, which simply means they are the plants to can be easily killed by frost

Your zone may still allow for time to grow many short term crops but you may have to be prepared to help protect them or harvest them early. 

Examples of shot term crops are things like  beans, cantaloupes, corn, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peas, peppers, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes and watermelons.
Knowing the maturing dates for your vegetables can also help you to understand how long each crop will take before it is ready to begin harvesting. 
This of course will depend on the weather as well, but we can break those maturing dates into three simple categories.
There is the quick veggies that don’t take long to grow what so ever, the moderate and the slow that takes much more time before they are mature enough to harvest.

Quick Crops

First we have the Quick Crops which will mature within (30 – 60 days) Examples of this group are  beets. bush beans, leaf lettuce, mustard, radishes, spinach, summer squash and turnips.

Moderate Crops

The Moderate Crops which will mature within (60 – 80 days) are broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, corn, green onions, kohlrabi, lima bush beans, okra, parsley,  peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Slow Crops

The Slow Crops will mature within (80 days or longer) and they include things like Brussels sprouts, bulb onions, cabbage, cantaloupes, cauliflower, eggplant,  garlic, Irish potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon and winter squash.  
You can find more information written by Prof. Jerry Parsons and Prof. Larry Stein and available at Aggie Horticulture.
Your Local County Extension Office will be able to provide you with information that will detail what varieties and planting dates are recommended for your area.
Here are some direct seeding guides for planting dates in Texas from Aggie Horticulture. 
So make your list and check it twice. The funnest part of the garden is selecting new seed varieties. 
You will still be left with the hard work of planning your garden space and getting it ready to plant. 
I hope to talk more about that soon so be sure to check back.

Happy Gardening!

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