THE HOW DO GARDENER: It’s time to plan your fall garden

By RICK BICKLING

Add fall color with Gerbera Daisies. (Photo by Rick Bickling)

It seems like just the other day that we were talking about planning your spring garden. Well, here it is in the middle of July, and even as the temperatures soar, the excitement of fireworks are still fresh in your mind, and the garden is producing at its peak, it’s time to grab a comfortable chair in the air-conditioned comfort of your home and start making plans for your fall garden.

Thoughts of fall are probably the last thing on your mind right now. But by planning, and where appropriate planting now, your landscape and garden will be ready to flourish this fall.

Even though you’re trying to stay out of the heat, this is really the perfect time to do a little clean-up work in your garden. As garden herbs start to bolter, cut them back to keep the plant producing new foliage rather than going to seed. For tomato or pepper plants that have stopped producing due to the heat, just remove any dead leaves, keep them watered, and they should start to bear fruit again when cooler fall weather arrives. Next, remove any dead or spent plants from the garden, and if they are not diseased, add them to your compost pile. Pull any weeds that may have started to take hold. Add compost to garden beds and till into the soil to help replace nutrients taken up by the previous planting.

Just as for your spring garden, draw a rough sketch of your landscape and fall garden plan. If you have the original survey from when you bought your house, make a copy of it and use that as a starting point. If not, just make a rough sketch of the footprint of your home. Draw in existing landscape features, and planned garden areas. Indicate which way is north and make note of any shady or poorly drained areas.

Think about adding some fall color to your landscape. Look at your landscape as a whole and determine what native or locally adapted fall flowers are best suited to the different areas of your yard based on their color, size, water requirements, and the amount of sun needed. By planting now, they will be well established and ready to flower come fall.

Make a list of the fall vegetables for your area that your family likes and rank them from most to least liked. Plan to plant what you like. If no one in your family likes beets or brussels sprouts, for example, then plan on planting more of what is most liked.

Now that you’ve determined which vegetables, what varieties, and how many of each you will be planting this fall, order your seeds now. This will ensure that you get exactly what you want and have them ready to plant when the time arrives.

One of the most important factors in having a successful home garden is planting each vegetable at just the right time. The Williamson County Texas AgriLife Extension Service recommends the following fall planting dates for Liberty Hill:

Beans, snap bush: Aug. 15-Sept. 15

Beans, Lima bush: Aug. 15-Sept. 15

Beets: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Broccoli: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Brussels Sprouts: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Cabbage: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Carrots: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Cauliflower: Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Chard, Swiss: Sept. 1-Nov. 5

Collards: Sept. 1- Nov. 5

Corn: July 15 – Aug. 15

Kale (transplant): Sept. 1-Nov. 30

Kohlrabi (transplant): Sept. 5-Nov. 5

Lettuce: Sept.15- Dec. 15

Mustard: Sept. 20-Nov. 20

Onion, bunching: Sept. 20-Nov. 5

Peas, English, Snap and Snow: Sept. 15- Oct. 15

Peppers (transplant): July 15-Aug. 15

Potato, Irish: Aug. 5-31

Radish: Sept. 20-Dec. 31

Shallots: Oct. 1- Nov. 30

Spinach: Sept. 20-Dec. 20

Squash, summer: July 20-Sept. 20

Tomato (transplant): July 20-Aug.20

Turnip: Sept. 20-Nov. 20

It doesn’t matter which stage of gardening grief you may be in right now. It’s easy to get worn down by the heat, the weeding, and the canning. But don’t let the anticipation of your fall garden, and the promise of cooler temperatures yet to come, distract you from the task at hand. Get out that pencil and paper, grab a cold drink, and make your plan.

Rick Bickling is a certified Master Gardener in Williamson County. He has been designing, planting and maintaining landscapes and gardens for more than 30 years. 

Visit www.howdogardener.com or reach Rick by email at howdogardener@LHIndependent.com.