A friend asked what we should be planting right now and I thought I would share a wonderful resource. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension puts out a great fall planting guide. I have seen and used other guides, but I’m comforted by the fact that these wonderful folks have a pretty good grasp of what the seasons actually look like in our state.
Some of the factors that go into fall planting times are the conditions needed for germination from seed, the growth and behavior of the plant in this extended period of high temperatures, and the expected number of days until plant maturity and harvest. You want to make sure that you’ve got enough time to grow your veggies before we get a cold snap. Yes, I know. I heard you giggle. It hasn’t snowed here in twenty years and temps only dip below freezing about three days out of the year, but we’d hate to have plants we’ve nurtured for months keel over in a freak freeze.
We can take the number of days to maturity on the front of the seed packet and subtract them from our average first frost date, which, in south central Texas is about Thanksgiving time. I just bought a packet of squash seeds and the front of the packet says “55 days.” So as kind of a rough estimate, I’ll subtract 55 days from our average first frost date of November 26. That gives me October 2nd. Now, we have to remember that the “55 days” is one of those “under ideal conditions” sort of things. So lets just imagine that we’re not all gardening under ideal conditions and cut ourselves some slack. Me, personally, I’m gonna add at least two weeks to that and plant my seeds no later than, lets say, September 18.
Let’s be kind to ourselves and remember that while science is super-helpful to our gardening, it is truly more of an art. So let’s be artists and find what works best for each of us, and please remember to share!