A common misconception that some people may have is that you plant your veggies in the spring and once they’re harvested in the summer the work is done and it’s time to wait until next year. This is simply not true! In most climates there are actually 2 or 3 growing seasons during one single year – Spring, Summer & Fall! The coldest parts of the country miss out on the opportunity for fall gardening but still get to grow cool crops in the spring/summer. Down here in southern Texas, with our typically mild winters, we can really get away with sneaking a couple warm season plants into our fall gardens and planting frost tolerant and cold hearty crops all through the winter!
Plants can generally be split into two separate groups – warm season crops and cool season crops. The concept is as the name suggests – cool crops should be grown in cooler weather and warm crops should be grown in warmer weather. While most of us already know and love (and maybe have even grown) warm weather crops – cool crops need love, too! Here is a list of warm and cool crops:
Leafy greens (arugula, lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.)
Some of you out there had the best intentions earlier this year to rub your green thumbs together and get outside to start a garden but couldn’t make it happen. Sometimes life just gets in the way of what we have planned or things otherwise just won’t work out. Maybe you got out there and gave it your best effort but were a little disappointed with the outcome. Maybe you did get out there and made great things happen and had a blast! You learned a lot and hopefully got to eat lots of home grown goodies but you’re ready for more. There is something wonderful coming soon that’s great for all of you – Fall!
That’s right – Fall. Planting in the fall is often referred to as “second season” gardening. A chance to grow cool season crops in the later months of the year once things cool down. Feel free to interpret that as “second chance” gardening – I know I do!
Last year I had such a great garden. It was my first year attempting a real, full garden and although it was far from perfect – I was super proud of the way things turned out for my first try. It really got me pumped up to get ready to plant again this year. As nature would have it, she decided to throw a curve ball at us and give us a bit of a wild ride this spring, including an ice storm in March! In Houston! Some of my plants got put out late to make sure all dangers of frost had passed, other plants got damaged by the weather itself and a couple plants were lost due to pests and problems that I didn’t have last year and had to work out this year. Although I’m still happy with the garden I have this year I can honestly say I’m also a little disappointed. The good news is that “second chance” gardening is coming right up!
It’s still pretty warm out and isn’t quite time to throw your gloves and floppy hats just yet but now is the best time to start planning. Last year I failed to plan for the upcoming holidays and decide what veggies I wanted to pick fresh from the garden for my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. By the time I realized what I needed it was too late to grow them myself (I still tried). I was so bummed that I had to buy some vegetables from the store that I easily could have grown myself! That is not a mistake I expect to make again this year.
Plan for the future! Figure out where you would like to plant your garden, which kinds of goodies to grow, how many of each and when to start the seeds indoors or plant them directly outside. Plan, plan, plan! If any of you would like assistance with your second season planning – just ask! I’d be more than happy to help.
Are you already planning on growing a second season garden this year? Tell me about it!
Until next time – Happy harvests!