With temps regularly in the triple digits, it’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner—though I’m sure you’ve been fantasizing about cooler weather as much as I have.
August is a great time to begin planning your fall garden in Texas. During this month, you can continue sowing fast-growing veggies that prefer heat, but you’ll also want to start adding in plants better suited to our fall growing conditions.
Follow these seven simple steps to make sure your fall gardening is a success!
Step One: Draw out your garden space
Use a piece of graph paper to draw out your raised garden beds to scale. Mark where plants that can stay in the garden are already growing. Plants that will continue to perform well in your fall garden include herbs, kale, and swiss chard. This will help you see how much space you have available for new plants for the fall.
Step Two: Select plants for your fall garden
Fall in Central Texas is when we enjoy our second warm season of the year, and that means it’s time to grow tomatoes again! Tomatoes can suffer under the brutal Texas summer sun but tend to flourish during the fall.
The best time to add tomato transplants to your garden is between August and the first week of September to maximize their fall growing time. Check out our fall tomato growing guide for more tips.
We recommend growing faster varieties like cherry tomatoes to make sure you get some harvests in before we have our potential first frost in November. (Read up on how to protect your plants from frost; it’s best to prepare now and purchase frost cloth so you’ll be ready when cold snaps hit.)
Fall is also a great time to add annual herbs that prefer cooler weather like dill, fennel, and cilantro to your garden. If you don’t already have parsley growing, consider adding it now.
Some of our favorite warm-season fall garden vegetables include cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, tomatoes and peppers. As we transition into cooler parts of fall, we love lettuce, mustard greens, peas, radishes, swiss chard, leeks, and kale. Around mid to late September, it’ll be time to sow carrots and beets by seed in your garden beds. Learn more about growing carrots here.
Step Three: Determine whether you’ll plant seeds or seedlings
Many of the veggies we grow in the fall do better when introduced to the garden as transplants. That means you can either add really healthy plants you’ve purchased from a local nursery or plants that you’ve started by seeds indoors yourself.
If you haven’t already started a large plant like tomato by seed, you’ll get to enjoy this plant in your garden for longer and prolong the harvests by buying a plant. We typically find it best for beginner gardeners to buy seedlings from the nursery for any plants that are large and take a while till harvest, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.
Other fall veggies, specifically peas, lettuce, carrots and beets, will perform best if started by seed directly in the garden when it’s time.
Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide
Take all the guesswork out of your seasonal planting.
Step Four: Figure out when to sow seeds
Now that you know what you want to plant in your fall vegetable garden, look at the back of seed packets and figure out when you should begin sowing seeds in your garden.
The date of our first expected frost here in Central Texas is November 15, though it often doesn’t arrive until after Christmas. Even so, if you’d like to grow a plant that does not tolerate frost, such as green beans, then you will look on the package to see how many days till harvest and count back from November 15. If you live outside of the Central Texas area, then simply Google your city and average frost dates and proceed from there.
Look for “Days to Harvest” to know when to plant something in your fall garden.
If cucumbers need 60 days to harvest, then they should be planted no later than September 15th so that you can pick the fruits and bring them indoors before our first anticipated frost in mid November.
(Or you can just grab our helpful Central Texas Monthly Planting Guide—it’s pretty much your garden cheat sheet!)
Add these important sowing dates to your calendar or set phone notifications so you don’t forget.
Step Five: Plan where your new plants will go
Use the drawing you created in Step One to map out where your fall garden vegetables will go. Figure out where you’ll be placing larger plants like tomatoes or cucumbers first (ideally next to a trellis so that they can grow vertically), and then fill in with smaller plants, herbs, and flowers.
Step Six: Prepare the raised bed soil for planting
Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of fresh compost to the planting area. This will help support your existing plants and give a nice little nutritional boost to the incoming fall plants. We also prefer using compost to trap moisture in the soil around the roots of your plants instead of mulch, which can burn your plants and hide pests.
Step Seven: Plant!
Now’s the fun part: planting. Instead of ripping out all your hot-season plants in one go, remove plants that are no longer doing well or that have stopped producing for you, and add in your fall plants gradually to your garden in these empty spaces created by getting rid of spent plants.
Once you’ve sown seeds or added a transplant to your garden, make sure to baby them for a bit and provide shade if needed. Remember: most days during the fall here in Central Texas will still be warm. Seeds need lots of water to germinate, and transplants also need nice, long drinks to help them get established in their new home. If you allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, your plants will feel stressed out and may never thrive.
We add drip irrigation during all of our garden installations to ensure plants get that deep watering they prefer.
What about flowers for a fall garden?
You still have time to plant and enjoy the magic of zinnias before cold weather will nip them in the bud. Calendula is a great flower for cooler weather. You could also plant echinacea, gomphrena, gaillardia, lamb’s ear, lavender, and marigolds.
Lettuce Help You with Your Fall Garden in Texas
We love fall gardening, not only thanks to the cooler mornings and bearable afternoons that we were dreaming about all summer, but also for the many delicious things we can plant and grow. By following these steps to plan, prepare, and plant your fall vegetable garden, you’ll be enjoying fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies into the winter months.
Still need to set your garden space up? Fall is a great time to work with Lettuce Grow Something to design and install your very own dream kitchen garden in your backyard. Book a consult to get started.
Photo credit to Lettuce Grow Something and Jennifer Nesbit Holt