Gardening in Texas: Part 9 – Growing a Fall Garden

By Ebony Porter, September 26, 2016, Green

Welcome to Gardening In Texas from Bounce Energy! We hope this series will steer you in the direction of planting a green Texas garden with a eco-friendly lifestyle in mind. We’ll discuss shaping a garden that uses less water, grows in harmony with animal and insect life in the area, and provides you with more than just a pretty view.

The heat of summer in Texas seems to drag on forever, and over the months, it takes a toll on your garden. My biggest challenge as a gardener during those months consists of defeating how the heat and mosquitoes attack me so I can take proper care of maintaining the garden.

I refer to “fall” in Texas as our second spring. Toward the middle of September, trees, bushes, and plants start blooming again, the butterflies are in motion, and the bees begin to swarm. The temperatures drop just enough to mimic those early spring days, and the Earth seems to approve by making everything flower once again.

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

While a snow-covered winter isn’t something most Texans prepare for regularly, a few areas of our great state do receive frost and freezes. So, this post will help you enjoy your fall garden, while also preparing it for winter and getting it ready for the springtime, too.

Pruning Trees and Bushes

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

Remember that gardens are like hair: they need to be trimmed to look fresh and vibrant! Don’t be shy about pruning; especially after a long summer, some bushes, ferns, perennials and trees will look a little less leggy and crisp.

Prune thin branches back to the larger branch, and you’ll see new shoots appear within the month. This also gets you ahead of the curve before branches lose their leaves later in the fall, leaving the garden looking twiggy. By this time of year, my ferns need a good trim, as do my Texas natives like my vitex and salvias.

It should goes without saying, but don’t prune your cacti (unless they are huge and out of control)!

Clean Out Beds

Your beds have collected leaves and dead stuff over the summer, so clean them out, and add it to your compost bin. Leaves are already starting to fall, add those to your compost, too.

Lay Down Mulch

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

Over the summer with rain and sun, any mulch you DID have has worn away. Freshen up the yard by mulching and keeping those weeds at bay. Using pine needles or hay, place fresh mulch around the bases of your trees and large bushes – at least 3 inches thick. This protects your plants now from impending cooler temperatures by locking moisture into the soil.

Planting Bulbs

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

Those of us who are year-round gardeners know that we must often prepare today for what will happen tomorrow. So, in our planting zone, bulbs need to be put in the ground between Halloween and Thanksgiving. This gives them a good 5-6 months to sleep so they’re ready to emerge in all their glory when spring arrives.

You’ll see bulbs such as lilies, tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils in the stores in the fall, so grab a few bags and have your child help you “put the bulbs to sleep.” They may forget they planted them, so when they emerge in the spring, watch their excitement!

Plant a Fall Vegetable Patch

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

Autumn is the best season in Texas to grow vegetables!

If you already have raised beds, remove all the weeds, and churn in fresh hay and compost. If you don’t have a raised bed, then make one easily:

  • Select an area of your yard that receives at least 8 full hours of sun each day;
  • Border the area either with railroad ties, cinder blocks, or stacked limbs of cut down trees; and
  • Using fresh compost and a good soil, fill your beds to create at least 8 inches of healthy soil.

Select good quality seeds that grow in Zone 9. Search for seeds that are heirloom but non-GMO. These breeds of vegetables are not often used by the large growers, so they are slowly being diluted from the market. It’s important to keep the heirloom varieties alive, and the bees absolutely love to pollinate them.

Be sure and include a few stepping stones throughout your raised bed, so you have a place to step while harvesting and pulling weeds. Keep seeds and seedlings well watered until firmly established.

Plant Perennials Now

Plant perennial trees and bushes now, such as roses and vitex. This gives their roots time to settle in before the chill of winter hits. This is also a great time to divide perennials and roses. Transplanting them now, you’ll see their burst of life come spring time.

Sow a Rainbow of Wildflowers Seeds

Gardening in Texas: Part 9 - The Fall Garden | Bounce Energy Blog

Fall is the time to seed your garden with wildflowers like larkspur, bluebonnets, Mexican hats, and Indian blankets. Simply rake the soil until loose, and then scatter seeds. The success of wildflower seed planting often depends on you not planting them too deeply. Sowing them now lets them establish roots before heading into the dormant growing season of winter.

Enjoy your fall garden in Texas, as this is truly one of the best seasons to be outside and enjoying the fruits of your gardening labor!

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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