It’s still August, but planning and planting for fall vegetables has started. Planting trees, shrubs, herbs and some wildflowers is less than a month away. Everyone thinks spring is a big planting time, but in reality, fall is the best time to get so many plants in the ground, raised bed or container.
On Monday, August 26, a trio of Walker County Master Gardeners will offer a very informative presentation at the Huntsville Public Library. “Planting Your Fall Vegetable Garden” will start at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at Noon. This free presentation is designed to give the public tried and true methods and tips for putting in vegetables for the fall. There will also be information on fertilization, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), composting and mulching. Attendees are strongly encouraged to bring their questions for the speakers. There will be plenty of time for interaction with the Master Gardeners.
First up is Kathy McHargue. She will go over the proper soil and fertilization techniques to have a successful vegetable plot. She will also discuss spacing, sun location and other vegetable bed preparation work. Kathy is the WCMGA President-Elect and is a team member in the Vegetable Production team.
The next speaker up is Jerry Gabbard. Jerry will cover various crops that grow best for fall and winter gardens. He will discuss the choices that are common for our area and the varieties that work best in Walker County. Some of the vegetables that he will discuss include turnips, carrots, collards, mustard greens and radishes. Jerry has been a Walker County Master Gardener for over 11 years, and is a Specialist in Fruit & Nut Trees. He is the head of the Vegetable Production team, and runs the shade house next door that houses the fruit and nut crops. He is a wealth of knowledge in this department.
Gail Warren will be the final speaker. She is a Specialist in First Detector (plant diseases), Entomology (insects) and Propagation. Gail’s discussion will cover getting to know the "good guys" (as in bugs) in our backyards. She usually brings pinned examples of most of them. She will also discuss how to use the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach in the proactive vs. reactive decision-making process of gardening. Her part of the presentation will include the question of whether to use chemical control, and how to determine toxicity levels of chemicals. Gail will conclude with tips on how to keep our bees safe.
One trick to fall planting is that fall crops generally do better when started from transplants than from seed. Transplants should always be used for growing tomatoes and peppers. Watering is also a key issue since plants will still be experiencing temperatures in the 90 degree range.
September is considered the ‘second spring’ in Texas as far as planting. The upcoming month of September is not limited to fall vegetable planting. It is prime time to set out Bluebonnet seeds in the ground, get Calendula and Alyssum started in small pots and choose Chrysanthemums that have just set bud. Blackfoot daisy and pink skullcap are two perennials that are great to put in the landscape this fall. Look for these plants and many others at the upcoming Fall Sale.
Some of the vegetables that will be offered at the WCMGA Fall Sale include determinate tomatoes such as: Celebrity, Early Girl, Red Cherry and Red Cherry (all ready for patio planting). Others include ‘Georgia’ Collards, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard, ‘Buttercrunch’ Lettuce (rich flavor and heat tolerant), mustard greens, cabbage, kale, and broccoli.
Texas Master Gardeners are members of the local community who have been accepted into the Master Gardener training program in Walker County. They have attended 50 hours of instruction, and have committed 50 hours of volunteer service to Walker County’s Texas Cooperative Extension program to attain certification. The group is committed to educating others in the community about a variety of horticulture-related topics.
Door prizes will be awarded at the end of the presentation. There will also be updates on the next three big events for the Walker County Master Gardeners. Flyers with information on the upcoming Fall Sale, The 10th Annual Butterfly Festival, and the 2020 Spring Garden Expo will be available.
For more information on this free presentation, please contact Mary Kokot at the Huntsville Public Library at 936-291-5471 or register online at: https://www.huntsvilletx.gov.