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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fall-Spring Garden Review

Now that I have pulled all the fall planted crops and planted the summer crops. I wanted to take a moment to review the fall garden.

My goal was to harvest brassicas, carrots, and lettuce from November - March. This did not work out at all. Really, I had one major issue: my germination rates were abysmal.

This bed should be full of broccoli and cabbage
 My family loves brassicas, so I've got to get this figured out. I would like to harvest them from October - April in the future. Our springs are too hot for most brassicas (the Texas A&M cooperative suggests them as fall crops only). Any mature brassicas that overwintered have bolted.
A Bolted Broccoli Plant...sure is pretty

Here's a PYO farm that has the Texas spring figured out. He's got lots of brassicas ready to harvest this April. So to have a successful spring crop, I gather that your brassicas need to be about half way to maturity by the first of March. Then they can mature during March and be ready for harvest in April.

So here is what I learned / will do differently to have a more successful fall-spring crop next year:

1. Improve Germination Rates : Start Seeds indoors - the soil in Aug-Sept is too warm for the fall crops to germinate. Many of the seeds laid there and germinated in Oct/Nov when they didn't have a chance to get large enough to survive winter.

2. Succession Sowing - Because growth rates are so variable during the fall - spring months, I am unsure as to when to plant for a Nov / Mar harvest. So this year I will sow on a 2-4 week schedule and keep good notes on which do better.

3. Remember Day Light Savings - last year I totally ignored the fact that the days got shorter in October. We don't get our first frost here until just beforeThanksgiving, so I thought I had plenty of time; but once it started getting dark at 5:30 pm, I knew my crops didn't have a chance to get any significant growth before the frosts started. So the few that did germinate where killed by the first frosts.

4. Fertilize. Fertilize. Fertilize. - Fall crops need nitrogen; something my soil is low in. So I will definitely need to be more diligent in fertilizing before planting and a couple of times during the growing season.

So if I am able to do these things, I think I will have a much more successful fall crop. But, my fall garden from last years gets an F.


  1. Don't think of it as an F. Think of it as a learning experiance. I am from Texas (currently living in New Mexico) and the weather there is just to different. What works in other places just can not work in Texas. It will take a few tries but I am sure you will be able to figure it out.

  2. I agree. I have been gardening here in GA for several years now and just this last year feel like I got the fall crop right. But I don't believe I could do any sucessive planting. What I plant in the fall usually slowly grows through the winter and then I get to harvest in the spring. I have pulled all my fall crops now except the garlic which I will probably pull this weekend.

  3. Thanks! Its good to know that others struggle with fall crops too...It's not just me :)