Quarantine Fall Gardening

Our “New Normal” is getting old, but it doesn’t seem to look like it’s going to end anytime soon.  May I suggest a creative, educational, family project that might help you pass the time and give you some reward for your efforts.

Existing Summer Container Garden

Now is a great time to plant a Fall vegetable garden.  We live in Zone 8b in North Texas so there is enough time to grow many vegetables and herbs in your flower beds where you might normally plant annual flowers.  Vegetable seeds are cheap and they give you food if you have enough sunshine in your yard.  It’s a little early for salad greens like lettuce and beets, but you can begin with beans, Swiss Chard, kale, onions, and early corn and tomatoes (early means early producing sometimes as quickly as 60 to 90 days).  If you have large pots and potting soil available, you can grow many vegetables and herbs in pots on your patio or in your flower beds.  Some suggestions would be carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, and even cucumbers and squash.  

Any bare soil along your fence line is a good place to plant vegetables like pole beans, early tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash that grow on vines.  You can use the fence as a trellis.  

One of my favorite ways to grow vegetables is in stock tanks.  I buy the galvanized ones with plugs at the base that you can remove.  Fill the bottom with gravel above the plug line for drainage and fill with a good mix of landscapers mix soil, compost and washed sand free of weeds. 

Last fall and winter I was able to grow lettuce, kale and spinach all winter long and just threw a light frost blanket over the top of the tank when there was a danger of a heavy frost.  This is also a good way to plant carrots, beets, turnips and even sweet potatoes.  

Newly planted peas, pepper and early tomato in early August

My flower beds are full of herbs.  You can grow parsley, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, and almost any herb in your flower beds with your flowers.  Onions, leeks, peppers can be tucked into small spaces and can even help cut down on some pests that invade the flowers.

You can grow most vegetables and herbs in any container a gallon size or larger.  Five gallon buckets are great for tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, squash, and peppers.

I would stay away from watermelons and cantaloupes unless you have a large open space in full sun in which to grow them.

After the middle of August you can begin growing lettuce and beets when the soil temps begin to go down.  Try planting rows or bunches at 10 day intervals to ensure a constant supply of food till frost and beyond.

You might even find that growing and eating your own vegetables is a great way to stay active and relieve stress during these trying times and reawaken the joy of growing some of your own food, which always tastes better and fresher than store bought (in my opinion).  Your kids might even find they like some of these vegetables if they help grow them.

Check out seeds that do great in Zone 7 and Zone 8

  • Beans
  • Beets (after the 15th of August)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (early)
  • Cucumber (early)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onions (early)
  • Peppers (early)
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes (early)

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