Summary by Michelle Hobbs, Bexar County Master Gardener
On Saturday, August 19 at Milberger’s Landscaping and Nursery, David Rodriguez, Horticulturist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service gave a presentation on Warm Weather Vegetables. While you may have missed the window (July 4 to September 1) to put in a second planting of warm weather vegetables (such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, and cucumbers) now is the time to prepare and plan for fall planting.
From Mid-September through November 1, we have a 6-week window for cool weather vegetables such as leafy greens, cole crops (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) and root crops (ex. carrots, beets, radish). We can grow many more vegetables in the fall and winter than in the spring.
David shared some tips for planting success:
Water: We must be good water stewards given our current drought conditions and use “Earth-Kind” principles for our edible crops. We need to become comfortable utilizing drip irrigation to conserve water. Vegetables need 1-1 ½ inches of water per week.
Planning is important:
- Determine what vegetables you and your family like to eat.
- Try varieties that have proven over time to grow well here, whether purchasing transplants at your local garden nursery or starting from seed.
- Plan one season to the next.
- Use a journal to keep track of your successes and opportunities for improvements.
- Keep in mind that you can do everything right and still encounter some unknowns, such as storms.
- When planning your garden, be sure to consider the spacing requirements of each plant. Good spacing helps ensure your plants get the right amount of sunlight and air circulation to minimize disease.
- When possible, avoid growing plants from the same family (ex. Solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers) in the same spot each year. By rotating your crops, you will significantly reduce soil-based diseases and pests that tend to affect a specific plant family.
Sunlight: All edible crops need 8-10 hours of full sun. Some cool weather crops can get by with only 4-6 hours of sun, but more is better.
Good planting bed preparation:
- Add 2-4 inches of high-grade compost to your garden bed. Utilize granular fertilizer (either organic or 19-5-9 lawn and garden fertilizer).
- Start with a clean planting bed that is free of weeds and ensure that it stays weed free.
- Once you add your transplants, add a 2-inch layer of double shredded, hardwood mulch around the plant, but ensure that it does not touch the plant stem.
- When buying transplants look for plants that are growing “out in the elements,” (i.e. in sun) at the garden nursery. It is important that your plants are acclimated to our growing conditions, otherwise you run the risk of them dying in our hot and sometimes windy conditions.
- Ensure that when you add your new plant to your garden or pot that both the plant and the soil are moist.
- Remove the plant from the pot and gently massage the roots a bit to loosen them and ensure that you firmly place the plant into the soil.
- Use a liquid soluble fertilizer weekly for the first 3 weeks to get your transplants off to a good start.
- In addition to your regular watering system, you may need to use supplemental water while your new plants get established.
Lastly, David reminded us to try to have something blooming in our gardens at all times, as it makes our landscapes beautiful and brings pollinators and other helpful insects to our gardens.
Be sure to attend the second part of “Growing a Fall Vegetable Garden: Part 2 COOL Weather Vegetables” on Saturday, September 23rd at Milberger’s Landscaping and Nursery.
Helpful resources suggested by David Rodriguez:
Dr. Sam Cotner “The Texas Vegetable Book”
Aggie Horticulture: Texas Home Vegetable Gardening Guide
Youtube.com: MyExtension 210
Photos by author