By: Justin Butts Photos by: Rachel Benavides
Fall is the best time of year to plant a garden in The Bend. You can grow all of your favorite vegetables and herbs if you plant them at the proper time during the fall season.
To know what to plant and when, first divide your vegetables into “heat-loving plants” and “cold-loving plants”. Plant your heat-loving plants early in September so they have plenty of time to harvest before the weather turns cold.
Cold-loving plants, on the other hand, need cold weather to properly mature. In fact, cold-loving plants such as greens, carrots, and root vegetables require low temperatures to develop their sweetness and flavor.
The average first frost date in South Texas is December 8. We don’t get a frost every year, but you should expect your heat-loving plants to shut down around this time. A frost will kill your heat-loving plants, but cold-loving plants like a little frost on their leaves.
As your heat-loving plants shut down in December, your cold-loving plants will begin coming to the table. This gives you a perpetual harvest from early fall through the end of winter in March!
Heat-loving plants require warm weather to produce a robust harvest. Plant only healthy transplants to get the greatest head start on the season. Check the plant label for “number of days to harvest” to make sure you have enough time prior to the December 8th average first frost date to get a harvest.
What to plant in September: Tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, okra. Plant bush beans, pole beans, and black-eyed peas from seed.
Herbs: Basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and mint.
Plant these cold-loving plants as transplants in the warm weather of early fall, so they ripen and mature during the cold winter.
What to plant any month between September and January: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mustard, head or leaf lettuce, and snow peas. Herbs: Cilantro, dill, parsley, and nasturtiums.
What to plant any month between October and February: Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, collards, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, turnips, and spinach.