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Despite The Heat, Now’s The Time To Start Fall Veggies!
Posted on : August 15, 2011

Although it’s the first of August, and despite the continued drought of 2011, don’t laugh when I tell you it’s time to start thinking about fall vegetable gardens. Before you toss this blog aside, thinking I’ve lost my mind, knowing it’s hard enough to get you to mow the lawn in this heat; you really should start planning today if you want autumn vegetables.
Planning doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get out on in this heat today, although if you don’t have a good starting soil, then yes, you need to get busy today. I’ve written about building the perfect beds in detail in the past, but here’s a reminder of what the perfect vegetable gardening soil is like: 2 parts Rose Soil to 1 part Compost.
The reason I think it’s important to talk about fall vegetable gardening today, is that many newcomers to such an endeavor overlook this opportunity. And if you wait until the time when the temperatures have moderated to plant, many vegetables will not have time to reach maturity before the onset of cold and freezing weather.

Whenever possible, choose early-maturing vegetables for the fall garden. They can be planted after early summer vegetables have been harvested and still be ready to pick before freezing weather. Transplants are best since we often don’t have enough time to take these vegetables from seed to harvest before the onset of the first cold spell.
Having said that, here is a list of vegetables that can be seeded or transplanted in August through September:

– Bush and pole beans (8/1 – 9/15)
– Lima beans (8/1 – 9/15)
– Broccoli transplants (8/1 – 9/15)
– Brussels sprouts (8/1 – 10/1)
– Cabbage transplants (8/1 – 9/15)
– Chinese cabbage (8/15 – 9/15)
– Carrots (8/15 – 10/15)
– Cauliflower transplants (8/15 – 9/15)
– Swiss chard (8/1 – 10/15)
– Sweet corn (8/1 – 8/15)
– Cucumber (8/1 – 9/15)
– Kohlrabi (8/15 – 9/15)
– Parsley (8/15 – 10/1)
– Irish potatoes (8/15 – 9/15)
– Summer squash (8/1 – 8/15)

If you’re wondering why I didn’t list tomatoes on the fall vegetable gardening lineup, it’s because there aren’t that many that work well in the fall, due to the early heat and short time span of cool enough weather needed to set the fruit.
It’s also important to remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate shelters for insects and disease organisms. And even if you’ve been able to sustain your peppers and tomatoes, planted earlier this year, you need to know that they will not set fruit during the heat of summer, even though they may still be flowering. If the plants remain healthy, they will set fruit again once temperatures stay below 90 degrees. If you do have existing plants you want to continue through the fall, don’t forget to side-dress them with fertilizer to encourage new growth and keep them well-watered. And one final note: Tomatoes covered with spider mites are not worth saving.

Written by Randy Lemmon

Randy Lemmon is a contributor to The Arbor Gate blog. Randy Lemmon is the host of the GardenLine radio program on Newsradio 740 KTRH. Randy has been doing GardenLine in one capacity or another since December of 1995, for all three of the now Clear Channel AM stations – KTRH, KPRC & KBME. When Randy took over GardenLine, he replaced long-time Houston radio veteran and GardenLine originator, Bill Zak. For those who remember that far back, GardenLine was a weekly radio staple on KTRH from 10 a.m. to Noon Mondays through Fridays – along with a Saturday show as well. Now GardenLine is heard exclusively on Newsradio 740 KTRH on weekend mornings.

Randy's Rants


Shiara |

I've already planted my fall summer squash, beans and field peas. Squash and peas are coming up, and pole beans have been in the ground for several weeks. I have bush beans that set lots of beans over the summer that stay tiny (less than 2" long, with no beans inside the pods) and the pole beans just flower away and don't make beans at all. What am I doing wrong??

    The Arbor Gate |

    A problem like the one you describe could be a nutritional or a pollination problem. The extreme heat will cause fruit to be smaller as well.

Monica Cawthon |

Hello, Thank you for the information about fall veggies. What about herbs? What should or shouldn't be started for the fall? Thank you, Monica

    The Arbor Gate |

    There are so many herbs that love our fall/winter weather. We always have a good selection on hand. Please check out the fall schedule for some great class opportunities about herb gardening. Basil can still be planted, but will not last the winter. Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Chives, Parsley, Cilantro, lovage are great choices to name a few.

Elaine Kimzey |

My peppers are still setting fruit in Kingwood. They are all bearing like crazy! They do have half day shade, though. Just sayin'

Leah |

This article came at a great time. My husband and I were just discussing this morning what vegetables we should be thinking about planting. Thanks

    Susan |

    Is it too late to plant pumpkins? Any varieties that would be best for our area?

      The Arbor Gate |

      Yes, it is a little too late to plant them. We recommend planting pumpkins in July.

Maggie |

The tops of my tomato plants look great but it's too hot for blooms to set. The bottom of the bushes are not so great looking. Do I chop the bush or start all over again?

    The Arbor Gate |

    Maggie - we went to the source for this question. We contacted Bill Adams, author of the Texas Tomato Lovers Handbook, and here was his response:

    It's a bit late for new plants-might try some cherries or Juliet. Cutting back doesn't work in most cases either. Try a healthy dose of Arbor Gate fertilizer and a minimum of trimming to get hanging vines out of the way. Lots of water too.
    Hope that helps! Also, we've got Bill's book here at the shop if you are interested.

karen |

I have healthy okra plants with lots of okra, but this morning I noticed ants crawling up the stalks to the unopened flowers. What can I do about them?

    The Arbor Gate |

    That is very common on okra. If you would like, you can dust the area with DE, Diatomaceous earth. It is a great organic insect dust.