Last summer I had my first garden in Texas. I struggled and struggled with my tomatoes all summer long. I fought blight, little black bugs, and tomato worms. By September I was about to give up when they finally started producing. Lo and behold, once the summer quieted down, they began to produce like crazy until November hit.
This year, I am planting a fall garden. Being my first time as a fall gardener, I am curious as to what I should plant now in order to have a great fall garden and beautiful prime produce when the seasons turn. After all – a Thanksgiving made with homegrown vegetables sounds idyllic! Here is what we should be planting now and shortly, in order to see our season extended well into the year.
15 Vegetables to Plant Now for Your Fall Garden
I will go into detail about how to plan for each of them.
The reason I say NOW is because these plants take ninety to one hundred and twenty days from seed to produce.
1. Winter Cabbage
For your cabbage, your broccoli, and your cauliflower, you are going to need to watch out for cabbage worms. Similar to corn worms and tomato worms, it's never fun finding your precious vegetable that you've worked so hard on was eaten by something else!
Helping the critters stay away, is as simple as putting a mesh laundry bag over them. This lets sun and water in but keeps bugs out!
You want to plant carrots four to five inches apart. Since they are root vegetables, you will want to make sure your ground is free of rocks. I am a big fan of raised beds, this being one of the reasons. In my part of Texas, the ground is just not well enough for anything besides raised beds anyways.
It is a good idea to put some mulch down with the carrots so you can speed up germination and fertilize it in about six weeks. Also, don't be afraid if it frosts before you pick them – rumor has it, they taste better after a few good touches of frost.
The leek row(s) need to be spaced twelve to eighteen inches apart with each leek planted four to six inches apart. These babies need full sun and soil should be mounded around them once they are the size of a pencil. Continue to do this every couple of weeks until time to harvest.
If the leeks are tender, a slug or two might decide to make it dinner. One of the best ways to get rid of slugs is to plant the leek in a large metal container with both ends cut off. This allows the roots of the leeks to grow and when the slug goes to munch, the metal from the can will stop the slug!
Once they are about two inches in diameter around the bottom, the leeks are ready to be harvested.
4. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts are one of my and my daughter's favorite things to eat in the winter time. And, much to my excitement, these plants do best in raised garden beds. They can be directly sown in four months before the first fall frost or bought from a nursery.
Plant Brussel sprouts twelve to twenty-four inches apart and water well when you are doing the transplanting.
While you should not cultivate, it is a good idea to mulch. Fertilize three weeks after transplanting.
Like their carrot friends, these plants can withstand (and even prefer) a frost or two.
5. Winter Squash and Pumpkins
These do best being sown in the ground instead of being transplanted. You are going to want a lot of compost on the top of your soil, as pumpkins prefer very rich soil with the ability to let the water run through them easily. They say to make the area look similar to a pitcher's mound.
The seeds should be sown six to twelve inches apart and in rows six to ten feet apart. They need a lot of water- a minimum of an inch a week and will eventually need a trellis with either netting or old socks to help support them. Also, you want to make sure you fertilize at least once a week.
These plants need to be placed twelve to eighteen inches apart and should be in soil that is moist but not soggy. The soil should also be well fertilized. Like with other root vegetables, be careful of rocks as it may cause splitting.
It is a good idea to grow the rutabagas under floating row covers at least at first because there are several types of bugs that like to eat the rutabaga foilage.
The rutabagas can be picked when they are the size of a grapefruit and can be used for their leaves as well.
Turnips need full sun and the soil should have a good bit of compost mixed in. Scatter the seeds but do not cover with more than half an inch of soil.
It's important with turnips to mulch heavily and keep the beds weed free. The turnips need one inch of water per week in order to prevent the roots from becoming tough and bitter.
If you notice your turnips are having issues and you have tried everything to fix it, I recommend pulling up one of your plants. If there are white bugs on the bottom, you have cabbage root maggots. You can opt for the tin can idea mentioned with winter cabbage or even contact your local nursery about ordering nematodes.
This is one of those foods my family eats several times per week. If you live in the South, I recommend making this a fall plant because broccoli does best in cooler weather. Adding mulch is a good idea in order to keep the temperatures of the soil down.
Space your plants twelve to twenty-four inches apart with thirty-six inches between each row. Seeds need to be placed at twelve-inch deepness.
While broccoli must be watered regularly and cannot get dry, it is important to not get the heads wet once they have appeared. Another thing to keep in mind is that broccoli needs high nitrogen and if the bottom of the leaves is yellow, this could be addressed by adding fertilizer or blood meal.
One of the biggest concerns with cauliflower is buttoning- or growing too quickly. Making sure that the air is cool enough is a crucial step, so much so that for Texas I do not think I will be planting cauliflower until October and might consider it a part of my winter garden.
Another aspect that is equally as critical is making sure the soil has a lot of compost in it. For cauliflower, this is so important that it is recommended to get the pH of your soil tested. There are multiple ways to test your soil, from doing it on your own to sending it in.
Unlike pumpkins, cauliflower is best started indoors. My bet is to control the temperature of the air around the seed as it begins to grow. When transplanting, you want the seeds to be eighteen to twenty-four inches apart with thirty inches between each row.
10. Fall Cabbage
Fall cabbage should be planted like most other produce thus far – twelve to twenty-four inches apart. Unlike the other plants though, the distance apart determines the size of the head of your cabbage. If you're aiming to have it at a state fair, I recommend the twenty-four inches!
Interestingly enough, it is a good idea not to plant cabbage with broccoli and cauliflower as it depletes the nutrients in the soil. They also recommend you do not put the cabbage near tomatoes. So, get creative when you are planning your fall garden layout!
Kale can only be grown in the cooler months but can survive in the coldest of temps – going all the way down to negative ten degrees. They tend to loose their flavor in the heat, thereby putting this one on my winter list. Research says southerners can plant anywhere from July until October, the key to getting good kale is having it grow in the cooler months.
Interestingly enough, they can also grow as tall as twenty-four inches. Kale and Collards should both be sown in the ground but seeing as they don't like the fickle summer sun and heat, it might be okay to start indoors and transplant if needed. I'm going to try it both ways and see which one goes better (and will definitely update when I do).
Good news for this one – collards grow fast! Therefore, it is important to make sure your soil is fertile. Your soil must be well drained and have a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 in order to prevent club root disease. In order to keep the soil thriving, adding blood meal might be a good idea here as well. If you harvest regularly, you need to fertilize regularly.
Space your collards 18 to 24 inches apart and make sure they get a minimum of one inch of water per week. Make sure you do not plant them (and your other similar vegetables) in the same spot each year, instead rotate your plants every year.
13. Swiss Chard
Plant your swiss chard twelve to eighteen inches apart. If transporting, be sure to water them regularly. Likewise, these plant needs one inch of water per week.
Once the Swiss chard is nine to twelve inches tall, you can begin harvesting it. You can plant these near carrots, spinach, and parsnips if you desire. They say that Swiss chard also grows well with collards, broccoli and others from that group. Plant away!
The great thing about scallions is they grow in smaller spots in the garden, so if you want to get every inch out of your garden, I recommend scallions as one of the plants you add.
You have the option of growing them in the garden directly or five to six weeks before you are ready to plant. Space them eight inches apart in rows one inch apart from each other. Make sure the soil stays wet as they will not grow properly if you do not and since they are the fall crop, add a nice coating of straw or mulch.
There are very few issues with scallions but it is recommended to rotate (which I am sure we are both already doing) in order to prevent any issues from arising. If it is as easy as they say, I'll be sure to rotate!
Once they are six inches tall, you can harvest.
15. Green Beans
One of my biggest dreams is to grow my own green beans and have an arched trellis. Therefore, I want pole beans. If you do not want the hassle of beans growing on a trellis, then you want bush beans. Bush beans grow up to two feet but do not require any other equipment.
It is not recommended that you start green beans inside but instead it is advised to plant your seeds two inches apart with one-inch deepness or more if your soil is sandy. Naturally, you want to rotate these crops too. Are we seeing a running theme here?
Unlike many of the other plants in this article, do not use a fertilizer with high nitrogen. If you do, you will have beautiful and full bushes but no beans.
Since we are moving I am really looking forward to getting my garden started at our new home. I cannot wait to start keeping a journal and am able to come back year after year to tell you what has worked and what has not worked.
Until then, I look forward to teaching you all about what I am learning as if we are partners in this gardening journey. Conquering the world – one garden at a time!