by Linda Heideman, Somervell County Master Gardener
Fall is a great time of year to plant wildflowers in our area, especially bluebonnets and poppies. These plants will germinate in the mild weather of fall and go through winter as small plants until time for their annual spurt of colorful growth in the spring.
Cool season vegetables may be harvested in November. It is important to harvest when they are at peak quality. For example, broccoli should be harvested when the heads are still tight and prior to buds loosening to prepare for opening their yellow flowers. Harvest beets and other root crops while they are still young and tender. Fully mature, they will not have the same taste and eating quality.
Leaf season is here! Those tree leaves that are littering your landscape contain 50-75 percent of the nutrients that the tree took up during the year. Don’t throw them away! Gather them for mulching and composting. Think of them as nature’s own slow release fertilizer and as free mulch.
Fall is the absolute best time to plant trees, shrubs, and woody vines. Fall planting gives the plant all winter to settle in and start to establish new roots, which helps it become better prepared for next year’s hot summer weather.
Clean out the remains of your summer annuals and till in some compost to prepare the soil for your favorite cool season flowers. Set out transplants of pansies, violas, snapdragons and ornamental kale and cabbage. Dusty miller is a good foliage plant that is hardy. A thick mulch layer helps protect these favorites from an early freeze.
Choose berrying plants at the garden center now while they have berries on them. Holly species, such as yaupon and possumhaw, have separate male and female plants. So you’ll want to make sure your plant is a female, if you want to enjoy berries in your landscape.
Plant perennial spring-blooming bulbs soon to allow time to become established before spring. However, wait until early January to plant tulips and hyacinths. Buy these bulbs now, but keep them in the refrigerator (away from produce) until time to plant.
(Researched in the Texas Gardener Magazine, November/December 2015 issue, by Skip Richter.)