Cooler Temperatures Mean Fall Gardens
Fall Garden Tips by Rachel Weaver, Coordinator at Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center
With spring and summer, people often think of gardening and large harvests of vegetables, but the fall is also a great time to get outside and plant a garden. Your fall garden can be a great addition to your yard and dinner plate.
Right now is a great time to plant greens like lettuce and spinach, kale, turnips, beets, peas, onions, radishes, and garlic. You could still transplant broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower - their last planting date listed was Sept. 15, but they could still have a good fall growing season if you get them in soon. Once established, these frost-tolerant vegetables will endure the cold North Texas nights. This year's average first frost date is Nov. 10.
Mulching is important for fall and winter gardens to help protect plant roots from cold temperatures. Organic mulch options like straw, compost, newspaper, sawdust, bark, corn cobs, and similar materials will help hold water and protect plants. When nighttime temperatures begin to drop near freezing, you will want to help your garden by using some landscape cloth or garden covering, but remember to give plants fresh sunlight during the daytime.
Insects can search for food and housing in your garden, and fungi can harm plants. We recommend organic pest control such as pyrethrums, neem oil, Bt, and insecticidal soaps to help deter pests. Did you know that sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is also one of the most effective, broad spectrum, environmentally safe fungicides? You probably have some in your fridge or pantry.
Effective watering is essential in all North Texas gardens. It's recommended to water in the mornings or evenings to prevent water evaporation. Adequate watering, shade, protection, and added nutrients can help your garden flourish. The City of Denton's Dyno Dirt and home composting can provide additional nutrients to keep your garden soil healthy. Organic gardeners look to soil health first, then the plants and animals that rely on the soil can be healthy, too.
Before the winter temperatures get too cold, it is good to plan for a winter garden and cover crop. Peas and clovers offer excellent ground cover and topsoil protection, and daikon radishes are great root vegetables that grow deep into the soil and help with aeration.
A healthy fall and winter garden can provide nutrition and joy for your household, and these few simple tips can help your fall garden thrive.