Melody's Gardening in Central Texas


Vegetables for Central Texas

Growing your own vegetables can be very rewarding. It can also be very frustrating here in Central Texas. We have many insect pests and problems with high heat and drought. Many vegetables can be grown in the cooler weather of fall, winter, and spring. See my book, Cool-Season Gardening in Central Texas on Amazon for suggestions of how to grow cool season vegetables.

greens

Vegetables to grow in cooler weather:

Kale, lettuce, greens, Chinese greens, radishes, and carrots--you can plant all these in the fall when the weather starts to cool off probably toward the end of September. All of these are planted from seeds. You will find many more varieties to try by buying them from seed catalogs than at your local stores.

Broccoli and cauliflower are planted in the fall or early spring. It is best to cover these crops with fabric row cover both to give them more warm during the winter and to prevent moths from laying their eggs on them. The dreaded green caterpillars can be kept at bay with fabric row cover.

Root crops are also cool season vegetables. If you want to have large onions you have to plant them in the fall or late winter. Garlic is also planted in the fall for a spring harvest. Potatoes must be planted in the spring no later than Valentine's Day. Harvest around the time the kids get out of school.

Vegetables for warm weather:

Asparagus: although asparagus is planted in late January to early February it will not be harvested until warmer weather arrives. The first year just let your asparagus grow in well-prepared, rich garden soil. Harvest will grow bigger as the years go by and your asparagus plant grows and expands. This is one of our few perennial vegetables.

Beans: Various kinds of beans are planted once the weather has warmed up, but before it gets very hot. Make succession plantings so that you do not have all of them come to harvest at one time. Moderate fertilizer, ample water, and vigilance to control spider mites is necessary. A second planting can be made in the fall for harvest just before the first frost.

cantaloupeCantaloupes: Cantaloupes and watermelons make a great addition to the garden, as they provide vitamin C In larger amounts than most vegetables do. A rich garden soil in full sun will help these to grow well as long as you provide a deep regular watering. Keep an eye out for past, including pill bugs, which like to eat them as well as we do. Pill bugs will be on the bottom of the melons where they can hide from the sun. Raising the melons off the ground can help.

Okra: our beloved soup vegetable, okra grows in the heat of Central Texas. If you can find a spineless variety you will have less unpleasant encounters with this vegetable while harvesting it.

Peppers: Both hot peppers and sweet peppers will grow best when there is ample rainfall. You can plant them in the spring, and get a good harvest. Then they will slack off and not produce much until it gets cooler in the fall. The fall harvest of peppers will probably be the best you will have all year round.

Summer squash: Don't limit yourself to just the yellow squashes, There are many delightful flavors and shapes to explore. Peruse the pages of several seed catalogs and pick out some interesting squash to try this year. All squash need good fertilizer and moderate water. If your squash suddenly wilts and dies, it has been invaded by the dreaded squash and borer.

Tomatoes: Considered the most popular vegetable grown in the United States, nothing in the gardening world gives quite the thrill as growing a successful crop of tomatoes. It is a daunting task here, as there are many disease and insect pests that will attack our beloved tomatoes. Plant in rich garden soil, fertilize once a month, and water by drip irrigation. Keep an eye out for spider mites and leaf footed bugs, two of the greatest foes of tomatoes. Treat them early or they will get out of hand quickly. A forceful spray of water on the bottom of the leaves will help to destroy spider mites in a light infestation early in the year. Later, you can try neem oil. This insecticide is natural and also helps with diseases. You will need to spray probably once a week. If all else fails, turn to a more powerful insecticide that can be used within three days of harvest, and follow the directions carefully!