There are certain smells that remind me of fall. I recall the acrid smell of burning squash vines, which meant Mom was cleaning up her garden, engulfing me as I walked home from school as a boy. A Montana winter would soon be upon us. My mother never knew about composting or had the luxury of a fall garden.

Most vegetables that grow in a spring garden in East Texas will also grow well in a fall garden. In fact, some will even do better. Cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and broccoli, which suffer in the summer heat, will be more crisp and succulent. Cool nights and warm days add sweetness to corn. Parsnips and collards are improved by a touch of frost. Try your summer disappointments again in a fall garden, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Timely planting is the key to a successful fall garden. Figure the number of days to maturity of your particular crop, add two weeks and count backwards from November 15, the average time for a killing frost for the Tyler, Texas area. A complete list of vegetable varieties and recommended fall planting dates is available from the Smith County AgriLife Extension Service.

Don’t forget to give your garden soil a boost before you plant. A light layer of compost, aged manure, or a small application of a complete fertilizer will be worth the effort and cost.

Larry Mast, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Now that the scorching heat of August is past, we can reasonably expect to enjoy some pleasant    hours in the garden while preparing for fall vegetables.

The soil is still warm, therefore the root growth will be encouraged, and cooler air means plants lose less moisture from their leaves.

If you haven’t already cleared dried and dead debris from the summer garden, do so now. These leftovers provide winter refuge for pests and diseases. Do not put any diseased plants in your compost bin.

Cool season transplants can be set out now for harvest in late fall and winter. Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale should be available at local seed stores and nurseries.

Seeds for cool weather leafy vegetables can be sown now. Lettuce, radishes, spinach and turnip greens are popular choices.

All tender fall transplants will appreciate protection from hot sun the first several weeks. To conserve moisture, mulch all your vegetables. A side dressing of nitrogen fertilizer will also give them a boost.

Frieda Parker, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


The biggest key to fall vegetable gardens is knowing when to plant. The date of the average frost locally is about Nov. 10, and warm weather vegetables need to start maturing at least two-three weeks before frost to justify the effort.

Below are suggested planting dates. Those that handle light frost well and that will improve in flavor are denoted with *.

Beans small bush (seed), Aug. 1-Sept. 1 Beans snap pole (seed), Aug. 1-Sept. 1
*Broccoli (transplants), Aug. 1-Sept. 15;
*Brussel sprouts (transplants), Aug. 1-Sept. 15;
*Cauliflower (transplants, Aug. 15-Sept. 15;
Corn sweet (seed), Aug. 1-15;
Peas, black-eyed (seed), July 1-Aug.
*Spinach (seed), Sept. 1-Oct. 15;
Squash summer (seed or transplants), July 15-Aug. 15;
Tomatoes (transplants), July 15-Aug. 1
*Turnips (seed), Oct. 1-Nov. 1.

Shade is needed for newly sprouted seeds and transplants with adequate watering. Nutrient levels are usually low after your spring garden, so fertilizer and/or manure may be needed.

J.T. McKennon, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Vegetables