November is near the end of the fall planting season. Due to the mild winters in north Texas, a few things can be planted. Fall is also a time for clearing, harvesting, seed collection, and the addition of compost and mulch for edible gardens.
Crops already in the ground such as carrots, beets, and potatoes will continue to grow throughout the winter. Garlic and onions can still be planted. Carrots, beets, potatoes, onions, and garlic need to be grown throughout the winter in order to mature for a spring harvest.
The success of other late plantings will depend upon how quickly temperatures reach winter lows. If established before temperatures dip below freezing, many cool weather crops can survive the winters in north Texas. Some of these crops include kale, chard, parsley, and cilantro.
Once temperatures reach winter lows, these plants go dormant until temperatures become ideal again for growing. If temperatures reach below freezing, the leaves may become damaged. So, this technique doesn’t provide much for winter harvests. It does provide a head start for spring plants. Rather than watiting for a seed to sprout, a small plant is already in place.
If a freeze is predicted, watering plants helps to protect them from stress.
The fall season is a great time to plant fruit trees.
Last chance to plant for a spring harvest:
Garlic and onions
Find garlic starts locally at Marshall Grain in Fort Worth.
These crops may have enough time to grow before temperatures drop too low:
Kale, chard, arugula-all can be snipped at any size
Peas-blossoms are edible
Radish-can harvest leaves
Once warm weather plants stop production, they can be pulled and added to the compost pile. Any diseased plants should be removed. Areas where plants have been removed can be hand tilled.
Plants such as tomatoes and peppers may continue producing until temperatures drop below freezing. If a freeze is predicted, pick all available tomatoes and peppers. Tomatoes can be placed into a paper bag that is folded shut, and left to ripen at room temperature. Peppers can be eaten at any time.
Perennial herbs such as mint, oregano, and thyme can be harvested up until temperatures freeze. At this point, the leaves may no longer be desirable to eat.
Collect desired seeds from any plants that have gone to seed in the garden. Store seeds in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Compost serves as a slow release food for the soil of the vegetable garden. Addition of compost will provide nutrients into the soil that can be used by plants at a later time. The key to a successful organic vegetable garden is regular feeding of the soil, crop rotation, and planting the right crops at the correct time.
The addition of a 2-3” layer of mulch has many benefits for the vegetable garden. Throughout the winter, the mulch will keep the soil warmer, which will help to keep the micro-organisms within it alive, as the temperatures drop. Mulch also protects the roots of the plants that are in the ground during the winter.
When purchasing compost or mulch, make sure that the product does not contain dyes or bio-solids.
Read more about biosolids: Biosolids for food production
Find compost and mulch in bulk at Living Earth.