Article by Bob Dailey, Master Gardener
Get ready for our Second Spring!
Seven weeks (or more) of no rain, temperatures soaring into the 100s, plants fading and dying, were enough for many gardeners to despair. Now, I assume to make up for that, Mother Nature has decided to dump tons of water upon us. I don’t have the final number of inches, but it’s substantial.
Now my plants look great. Eggplants are still producing, and okra is going mad. All my flowering natives have decided to bloom again, grateful for the moisture. However, the most productive plants are the weeds. Besides the “usual suspects,” there are several that I have not identified yet and am wondering how they arrived here.
As fall is known as the “second spring” here in Montgomery County (and southeast Texas,) we should have a great growing season.
Beans: Now’s the time to put in snap bush and pole beans, as well as Limas. With all this good, nitrogen-enhanced rain, the beans should thrive this fall.
Brassicas: You can start putting in your cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, beginning the second week in September. I planted mine early last year, and paid the price, as looper moths laid gazillion eggs, which hatched into loopers and they destroyed my crop seemingly overnight. I spent every afternoon finding and squashing the little critters, but they’re a sneaky bunch and hard to find. I would wait until the first of October before putting in any brassicas.
Swiss Chard: Plant the last week in September. There are many colorful varieties of Swiss Chard, and the leaves are very tasty when sauteed lightly in olive oil, with a little salt and pepper, bacon, and garlic, if you like.
Lettuce: Wait until the second week in October to put in lettuce. There are many varieties. You might want to plant several varieties and decide which ones you like.
Mustard Greens: If you are like me, one of the best meals in the world is mustard greens with ham hocks, cornbread and iced tea. Plant then the second to third week in September.
English and Snap peas: There is a small window for planting these. The first two weeks in October are the best times.
Radishes: Plant them anytime between September 1 and the middle of October. Many gardeners prefer to plant them sequentially every two weeks, so there is a continuing (but not overwhelming) supply all winter.
Spinach: This can go in the first week in October.
Tomatoes: I have always had good luck with tomatoes planted in the fall. I would be putting the seedlings into the ground now. Most varieties take from 65 to 70 days to produce fruit. If you plant them now, that means that you should have tomatoes around the first of November. Varieties like Early Girl will produce around 55 days, so plant some early producing varieties along with some later producers.
Turnips: I’m not a great fan of turnips, although we grew then in our garden when I was a child. I never did acquire a taste for them, but my mother, being thrifty, believed we should eat everything that came out of our garden.
I hope you all have a very pleasant and productive fall vegetable growing season.