It’s August, but it is time to think about autumn in Zone 8a, and our lovely fall garden season! Sweat through the seeding and prepare for the year’s best growing atmosphere. Zone 8a has warm days and cool nights, and then come the rains. So pull on a flannel… tank top? Let’s get digging.
August came around to signal the beginning of fall garden seed starting in North Texas! And now, we’ve seed started, pulled out the summer crops, turned the soil, laid new mulch, patched the hoses and away we go. Fall is becoming increasingly more enjoyable the more we know about weather, plants and the sort.
My husband collects acorns. Not in a squirrely manner, but with the idea of growing trees and starting a tree farm. We load the wagons and drag the kiddos to the park to hunt for burr oak and unmunched pecans. His queue for acorn starting in my queue for getting the garden into gear.
What’s special about the fall garden?
For the south, warm days and cool nights are the recipe for happy, happy plants. The plants do not have to battle our hot days, and have the reprieve of the night. The gardener too enjoys the cooler temps for garden work. I’ve even noticed that while we lose some pests to cold nights, we regain the monarchs and butterflies that flew north in the spring.
In our zone (8a), we are lucky enough to plant a second round of tomatoes. Come October, we have fruiting tomatoes side by side with cool weather cruciferous plants. Fall presents the ideal situation for planting new perennials: rock rose, salvia, yarrow, coneflower. Rosemary and sage can stay in the ground and survive most winter storms. [IE. 2021’s snowmageddon]
General Tasks for Fall
Though we are done sweating, the work is not done in the garden. Aside from the fall planting, it is also time for laying new compost, mulching, adding last bits of green matter to compost, planting bulbs and seed saving.
Here are 3 tasks we start in October:
- BT application: We use a spray bottle to apply Bacillus thuriengensis (BT) every other day on our cabbages, broccoli and brussel sprouts. These cruciferous plants are a cabbage worm delight, or rather, any caterpillar in a five mile radius.
- Plant garlic: Garlic must go into the garden before the end of October for May harvest! We buy local, use last year’s cloves or purchase from Filaree Garlic Farm. To see more about garlic harvest and braiding, READ HERE.
- Seed purchasing: catalogs for most companies will begin rolling out in November for the new year, as well as sales on this year’s seed. Seed stays good for two years which means purchasing sale seeds and keeping them in a cool, airtight spot will have you ahead of the game come spring.
What are the best crops for a fall garden?
For fall, we have to plan to enjoy the last of the summer warmth, and think of winter. The crops we choose must accommodate these as well. There are also wonderful herbs and flowers that will give you a good harvest before your first frost.
At 45 degrees, tomato fruit will sustain damage. Basil will freeze at 35 degrees. At 32 degrees, beans, melons, okra, some peppers, sweet potato vines, squash, cucumbers and corn will be damaged. With this in mind, we plan to have hoop tunnels ready for tomatoes and give more attention to cold tolerant plants. Cruciferous and hard stem plants are most likely to survive cool weather.
2022 Fall Garden Selections
- Nero Di Toscana Kale
- Dwarf Blue Curled Vates Kale
- Bloomsdale Spinach (must direct sow once soil is less than 68F!)
- Danvers Carrots
- Bolero Carrots
- Groninger Brussel Sprouts
- Ferry’s Round Dutch Cabbage
- Rapini Broccoli
- Sun King Hybrid Broccoli
- Lettuce: (in succession)
- Burpee Bib
- Parris Island Cos
- May Queen
- Roughe D’Hiver
And now, we plant!
And now, at the end of October, I can breathe a slight sigh of relief. What’s done is done. Planting with a newborn is not for the faint of heart. If anything, it has increased my cardiovascular condition with every sprint out to the garden with the baby monitor! Wish us luck.