Preparing the Zone 9 Fall Garden

Even though it was 106 yesterday, it is time to get your zone 9 gardens ready for fall planting. I have to admit, with all of the talk of water restrictions, I am debating how much of a garden I am going to have this fall. I really cannot imagine not planting a garden, but I do think that I am going to scale back. No row garden for me this fall. Instead, I will be doing all of my planting in my potager (if you are a reader of Texas Gardener magazine, check out this month’s article that details how I built my potager).

Carrots and lettuce love the cooler weather of fall.

Preparation – Before you plant, you need to get the garden ready. For me, this is a fairly simple process. I practice no till gardening in my potager. So, to get my beds ready I do the following things. Note: these steps work well for flower beds as well. Since most beds have a mix of annuals and perennial, they are typically no till as well.

1. Remove all plant material that is left over from the spring garden. If you have not pulled up those cucumber or pole bean vines, then now is the time to do it. Also, if there is plant litter on the ground, remove it and destroy it (burn if you can, haul off if there is a burn ban). Old plant litter can hold a lot of pests that can “bug” you in the fall and then again in the spring. Squash Bugs over winter in plant litter so DO NOT move this debris to the compost pile. The squash bugs will actually thrive in the warm compost environment and be ready for another invasion in the spring.

2. Remove weeds. Thank goodness, weeds are not as aggressive in the fall. A good weeding now will reduce the number of times you will have to weed in the fall and winter. If there are no seed heads on the weeds that you pull, go ahead and put them on the compost heap.

3. Fertilize. Since I grow organically, I fertilize with various forms of compost. I use primarily mushroom compost but I will occasionally add in composted cow manure, rabbit manure, cotton bur compost and an alfalfa and humate blend. All of these are good sources of nitrogen. However, for good flower production (and ultimately vegetable production) you also need phosphorus. I use rock phosphate. Also, don’t forget about the potassium. Potassium (or potash) helps plants use water. Clay soils generally have enough of this in our area. However, since we are in a drought, I am going to add a little supplemental potassium this year. The best source of potassium for the organic garden is greensand. You can also add wood ash but it is high in lime so it can lower your pH.

Cabbage, and all brassicas, thrive here in the fall

Planting – In my humble opinion, fall is the best time of the year to garden in Texas. The temperatures are falling to a bearable level, the rains generally pick up and weeds are not nearly as much of a problem. Also, my favorite vegetables are the brassicas that thrive in the Texas fall. Patty Leander creates the planting guide for the Travis County Agrilife Extension office.  Click the link below to see here updated planting guide for our area.

Texas A&M AgriLife’s Vegetable Planting Guide by Patty Leander


Turnips are a two for one deal in the fall garden. Both the turnip and the greens are delicious and nutritious.

13 thoughts on “Preparing the Zone 9 Fall Garden

  1. Good article, thanks. Do you think planting dates should be pushed back because of the high temps or should I plant with avg. frost dates in mind?

    • I think we should still stick with he first frost date in mind. I know it is hot now, but that does not mean that mother nature won’t make it cold again real soon. Since there is no real way to predict the weather, I recommend going with the averages.

  2. Thanks so much for the planting guide. I usually look for it in the Texas Gardener magazine, but must have missed it. Enjoyed your article this month. I am itching to get back into my garden. The heat has kept me away too long!

    I think I’ll head to Plants N Things today and see if I can still get in on some seed potatoes!

    • I agree about the heat. I planted my first thing on Thursday; shallots. Also, Plants N Things only has five pound bags of potatos. I bought one but have way more than I need. If they are out let me know. I have plenty to share

  3. I was recommended mushroom mix for my raised beds. The squash, cucumbers and other plants looked like they had been burned and did not produce. What do you think went wrong?

    • Very hard to say. Did you plant in straight mushroom compost or did you use it to amend your soil? I have heard people say things like “that compost was just too hot”, it burned the plants. By hot they mean it had too much nitrogen. Organic composts are very low in available nitrogen. It is almost impossible to “burn” a plant by fertilizing with an organic product so I really doubt that was what happened.

      Basically without more information it would be hard to tell you exactly what went wrong. There are just too many variables. However, I would be curious to know if you planted from seed or transplant? Did your plants flower? What did you plant and when did you plant them? What zone are you in? Plus, if you have pictures it would be a big help.

  4. This is my first year to plant from seed. I ordered heirloom seeds that should be here soon. I plan on having a container garden on our front porch and was wondering if I need to start my seeds inside and then transplant them once they’ve sprouted. We’re in the Beaumont area, and our temps have been very warm this year.
    I ordered the following seeds:
    Cucumber (pickling)
    Cherry tomatoes
    Red bell pepper

    • Congrats on taking the plunge! If I were you I would start the tomatoes seeds now. There are several articles on how to grow transplants on the blog. Basically you will grow your own transplants that you will put out anywhere between March 15 and April 1. Plant carrots outside in your container now. You could also do a row of spinach and lettuce with the carrots. Wait until March 15 to plant the squash and cucumbers. Best of luck and do not hesitate to ask more questions!

Leave a Reply