Fall should be a busy time in any Texas garden. When the weather finally starts to turn cooler and the days get shorter, most of our summer crops will be giving their final yields. When the summer crops finally give out, it’s time to make way for our fall and winter veggies! Fortunately, the Texas climate allows us to have plenty of choices for fall and winter planting.
Leafy Greens in November
November is a great time to start planting leafy greens in your veggie gardens. Things like cabbage, kale, lettuce, chard, and spinach should be transplanted now. Bunching greens like collards and mustard are also great for this time of year. Don’t be afraid to try some specialty greens like radicchio, mizuna, or my favorite, arugula. Growing a mix of different greens makes for the best salads! Other veggies that do well with fall planting are broccoli, cauliflower, shallots, garlic, and beets.
A note about protecting your fall crops: I highly recommend building hoops made from PVC pipe over your rows of winter veggies. This will allow you to cover your plants with winter protection cloth to protect your plants on the coldest winter nights. The winter cloth is a breathable material made to protect plants from cold weather and is now commonly available in most hardware stores and garden centers. I also recommend adding at least an inch of compost to your garden before you plant. Lastly, cover the ground with two inches of mulch after all the planting is done.
At the Big Tex Urban Farms, we’re definitely getting into the fall planting spirit. We have recently planted four types of lettuce, kale, radicchio, broccoli, mustard, and arugula in our planter boxes. We plan to add garlic, shallots, and collards soon. The late heat we have had this year has our outdoor fall plantings moving a little slow. If your new fall plants at home are not growing as quickly as you would like right now, don’t give up! Keep your veggies well-watered until the heat breaks, and your plants will burst with growth soon.
Fall isn’t Just for the Vegetable Garden
Fall shouldn’t only be a busy time in the veggie garden, it should also be a busy time across all backyard landscaping! For example, fall is the perfect time to plant trees. The cooler temps and increased rainfall greatly reduce transplant shock. The soil also stays warm, which allows roots to continue to grow all winter long, giving the tree a huge leg up on the next growing season. Fall and winter color can be added to your flower beds now as well. Ornamental kales and cabbages are always a hit! I really love a kale variety called Winterbor – check out this link for more info on this resilient little plant, including how to plant it.
Need an idea for the flower garden? Pansies can be perfect for the fall and are known as the undisputed rock stars of the cool season garden. In my opinion, they are one of the most underrated plants on earth. Pansies will have your house looking good at Halloween, Christmas, and still looking good when Easter rolls around! Few, if any, flowering annuals can match their longevity. Pansies also come in a wide variety of colors to please everyone.
Big News at the Big Tex Urban Farms
In other news, we are very pleased to announce that the Big Tex Urban Farms has added two fully-functional hydroponic setups located inside the Errol McCoy Greenhouse on the Midway. One setup is called a Deep Water Culture tank (DWC) and contains 1,300 grow spots in the system, which will primarily focus on the year-round production of greens and herbs. This tank is capable of producing between 150 to 250 heads of lettuce per week! Basil and chives are currently being grown in the tank alongside the leafy greens.
Our other hydroponic setup is made up of six brand-new vertical tower gardens that live alongside the DWC tank. The towers are also growing greens and herbs right now, but its unique setup will allow us to experiment with other crops, like strawberries, down the line. Both systems were on display at the 2017 State Fair of Texas and were wonderfully received. We have already had great harvests allowing us to make large donations to the local Fair Park community from both systems! We are all excited about what the future holds for the Big Tex Urban Farms.
That’s all I have for now. Hope you enjoyed my tips and stories. I will have much more to share coming soon. Until next time, happy gardening!
Manager, Errol McKoy Greenhouse on the Midway