Katie Kuchta discusses which veggies you can add to your garden for second season crop planting.
With an extended growing season, Texas has the advantage of producing fruits and vegetables almost all year long. While many other areas are over and done with their gardens, Texas homeowners can easily reuse a summer garden bed for fall harvesting. Take advantage of the long growing season by adding these second season crops to your garden.
There are a variety of lettuce options that you can choose from when planning a second season of crops in the garden. Most varieties take about 1-2 months to reach full maturity, but lettuce is one of those plants that you can harvest at any time. Consider planting a few rounds of lettuce about 2 weeks apart to have a continuous supply for your fall meals. Lettuce is also known for being able to survive the first light frost making this a great option for those Texans who want to keep growing produce up until the very last minute possible.
Many Texans enjoy planting radishes as a second season crop due to their quick maturity rate. Radishes typically mature between 1-2 months after planting and will provide a zesty taste. Radishes are best when picked as a small young plant so make sure to not let them get too big. Test out the size of the radish by picking out one around the 1-month mark.
This dark leafy green vegetable is another great option as a second season crop. Spinach takes approximately 6-8 weeks to reach maturity making it an easy harvest as temperatures decline. Use spinach in salads and soups or cook it down and freeze to save for winter casseroles. Plant a few rows of spinach about 2 weeks apart so that you can take advantage of this quickly growing cool season crop right up until the last frost in your area.
Packed with important vitamins and minerals, beets grow best in cooler temperatures making them an easy choice as a second season crop. They enjoy warm days up to 70°F and cooler temperatures at night well. Beets are perfect for Texas gardeners as nightly temperatures stay above 50°F, keeping them from going to seed. Beets like loamy acidic soils and would benefit from a mix of compost in clay prone soils. Plant seeds in the garden about 8-10 weeks before the first frost in your area for beautiful colored veggies at your next meal.
Peas are one the best vegetables to grow as a second season crop takes about two months to mature. Plant peas in a spot of the garden that will allow them to grow on a trellis or fencing due to their vining nature. Peas are great to eat raw from the garden or can be harvested for other cooking options. Make sure to train the vines where you want them to go to keep them tamed and give them the support needed to grow.
Planting garlic in the fall is a great way to ensure that you will have fresh garlic for all of your summer dishes next year. Garlic is considered as a second season crop, but you won’t be able to harvest it until the following July. Garlic winters in the ground all year and then pops up in the spring. Use garlic bulbs from your own harvest to continue growing garlic without having to buy any starters next year.
When planning your second season crops consider these great options that will surely produce before the first frost in your area. Consider planting multiple waves of lettuce and spinach to always have fresh greens on hand. Beets and peas should be planted soon to give them enough time to mature before cooler temperatures arrive. Make sure to plant easy radishes to add flavor to dishes as well as allow garlic to sleep in the ground all winter. Choose any or all of these plants when planning your second season crops.
About the Author
Katie Kuchta is a gardening and outdoor living guru, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.