By R. Lewis
Special to the PRESS
Well it’s finally time to get active with the fall garden now.
Hopefully you have been getting your garden areas ready to plant, because now’s the time to get started with tomato plants and pepper plants. Actually, it’s a little late on some varieties of tomato plants, especially your larger fruited varieties that require 90 to 120 days to mature.
Over the past 2 weeks, many of the nurseries have started bringing in transplants of tomato, peppers, squash, etc. I have found some of my favorite tomato plants and got them planted this past Labor Day weekend and it is amazing how fast these take off and start growing. It is the composting that I have been doing the past 4 to 6 weeks that has made the difference. You get that soil energized with a combination of good quality compost and add some good organic granular plant food and then wait a couple of weeks, then add some worm castings and then drench all of that with a fish emulsion or the Medina “Hasta-Gro” and your soil is begging for something to grow. Then when you plant your tomato or pepper transplant, it is exciting to watch them grow on a daily basis.
Still with our normal South Texas heat, we need to monitor for watering needs on a daily basis until our daily temperatures start to slowly cool off. Also, while we are watching for watering needs, we still need to touch our plants and do a whitefly check. If you touch your plants and notice a little swarming action you need to spray those quickly with an insecticide and be especially careful to spray on the underside of the leaves of the plants.
If you plant by seed your choices of varieties are great. Beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cantaloupe, cilantro, cucumber, kale, lettuce, peas, radish and these can be started now. For some of the cooler season vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, etc. many gardeners will start the seeds now in small pots (4 inch pots) and let these get started and then plant these as we get into the month of October. These will take off quickly when transplanted at a time that the temperatures start to cool off some.
There’s a lot more to do than just planting vegetable plants. We are actually entering our best planting period for all plants and trees. Perennial plants, shrubs, native plants and trees, etc., all will do fine being planted now. With the nurseries full of blooming bargains you might want to think about adding some plants that will be attractive and catch the eye of some of our fall migrating hummingbirds. Native Turk Cap, Flame Acanthus, Scarlet Sage, Lantanas, Pentas, Fire Bush, Esperanza are some that you can find at your local independent nurseries that you can find blooming now and will draw Hummingbirds immediately. Don’t forget to fill up and maintain your Hummingbird feeders now. Last year’s migration of Hummingbirds was amazing and they are starting to come through our area now.
Another very important activity in the garden in September is feeding ALL of your plants. If you are using a chemical fertilizer you should consider that this is the final feeding for the year and is very important. For those using organic fertilizers, remember that you can use these on a year round basis, but with the weather just starting to cool off little by little, it is important that plants are fed now. Whatever fertilizer you use at this time will create a flush of new growth and blooms just in time for the butterflies that are showing up now throughout the garden.
There’s a lot to be doing outside in the garden now that the fall season is close (September 22). Each week the weather cools off a little more making it much more comfortable to get active in the garden. Timing of your fall garden is now. Don’t wait for the first cool day in October to decide you want a fall garden–now is the time to get started with vegetable and herb plants and do our tiny little feathered friends a favor and plant blooming plants now and keep the hummingbird feeders full.