When the air gets crisp it may not seem like the best time to be gardening, but Fall is one of the best times of year to plant herbs, vegetables and flowers in Central Texas. Adding a garden area to your deck is a great way to enhance its appearance and make it that much more functional.
The Central Texas Planting Zone
You may have noticed that the weather has been warming up in recent years. Because of the evolving environmental conditions an updated planting zone map was released last year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Austin is in the plant hardiness Zone 8b and Zone 9a.
The zones are based on winter temps and are meant to provide a planting guide for gardeners. Each zone lists its lowest winter temps and for Zone 8b that number is 15-20° F. It’s not likely we’ll hit temperatures that low, but it is possible. Your plants’ survival depends on whether they can handle a freak cold snap if it should happen.
The new USDA Planting Zone Map is interactive and fun to play with. You can even zoom into your own zip code to get pinpointed planting information. Once you know your exact gardening conditions it’s time to start plant shopping.
What to Grow
Enjoying fresh vegetables and herbs right from your yard can continue on into the fall and winter – you just have to known which ones to plant. There are also plenty of flowers that can provide a little color right now or be planted for the spring blooming season.
Here’s an overview of what to plant in October for Zone 8b and Zone 9a. All of the plants listed below do not require seeding indoors, which would have needed to begin before October.
- Swiss Chard
- Fava Beans
- Sweet Alyssum
Where to Grow
If you just want to grow a small garden there are a number of options to get growing around your deck.
Planter boxes are a great way to bring a small garden up on your deck. They are simple to make yourself and are an inexpensive yet interesting feature. There are also boxes that can hang right off the railings.
Just keep in mind how much weight will be added once it’s full of soil. The box needs to be located in a spot that can support the extra load and drain water well.
Around the Edge of the Deck
Instead of mulch or grass, grow a garden patch along the edge of the deck. This will make it easier to contain since the deck serves as a backstop. Just keep in mind that the deck may block a fair amount of the sunlight.
This is the easiest, most versatile way to add plants to your deck. You can choose sizes that are appropriate for what you want to grow and if it’s an unusually cold fall you can bring the plants indoors until it warms up.
Gardeners in the Lone Star State are very lucky – the mild winters make it easy to take full advantage of a fall garden. In addition to producing fresh vegetables and herbs a fall/winter garden will keep your soil healthier so come spring you can enjoy a whole new crop of edibles you pick right from your deck.
Image Source: lavandedebois.blogspot.com/2011/09/lavender-harvest-part-ii.html, flickr.com/photos/katiedee/5147692245/