The FarmGirls continue to be thankful for the cloud cover and cooler morning temperatures.  

This next week is the calendar date to start fall gardens.  

Much of our gardens are still producing thanks to those July rains.

Donelle and her interns have been preparing some rows for planting.  They have also planted about 50 flats of seeds that have sprouted under the shade tree.  

Every morning I see corn, broccoli, cauliflower, malabar spinach and others springing up out of the soil and looking very happy!  

Direct seed sowing to the soil will begin next week and will include squash, cucumbers and seed potatoes.

So what can be planted in the fall?  

The best way to decide is by looking at the seed packet.  

There are two things to look at on a seed packet — how many days to harvest and how many days for seed germination.  

If the packet says it will be 55 days to harvest that is less than two months for the plant to mature and fruit. For example, if a seed is planted on July 29 that would give the seed  both August and September to mature and produce before the first freeze of the season, which is typically November in the North Texas area.  

The second thing to look at on the seed packet is germination.  

This is the number of days the seed will be in the ground before it sprouts.  

Does it take 7 days or 14 days?  

Why does it matter?  

It matters because new seedlings are very tender and 100 degree heat may kill them.  

Warm weather plants such as okra, squash, cucumbers, malabar spinach, green beans and corn are more likely to withstand the heat as they sprout than the cooler weather plants such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale.  

These cool weather plants such as lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, cabbage, kale and collards will not be planted until the middle of September.  

In our gardens, we have planted lettuce as late as November and it has produced through spring.

Gardening year round in Texas is pleasantly doable. Gardeners who take advantage of the Texas weather and plant the fall garden are generally pleased by the lighter work load needed to produce a harvest.  

There are less pests, namely squash bugs. The plants generally experience less stress growing into cool weather. The gardener experiences less stress working into the cool season. Creating obviously a win-win situation!  

Fall is the time of year that the Texas duo, cilantro and tomatoes actually can be harvested at the same time. BLT’s are also on the fall menu because the lettuce and tomatoes are both producing.

The FarmGirls will follow up the fall and take gardening on into the winter months.

We hope to be harvesting beets, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard right up to January.  Then in January the greenhouses will be planted to seedlings and the onions will be planted.  By rotating the crops and amending the soil the gardening cycle continues.  

Gardener satisfaction and joy flourish in our gardens through the bountiful harvest of fresh, pesticide –free,  local and seasonal foods.  

Last week’s harvest of squash alone weighed in at 60 pounds.  

It is only logical to preserve nature’s summer treasures for the long  winter months. Most any summer afternoon The FarmGirls are canning, freezing or dehydrating vegetables and fruit for winter’s pantry.

Fall gardening, cooking and food preserving classes are all being offered by The FarmGirls.  Just check our website for upcoming classes at www.gardeninspirations-tx.com.  

Monday, July 29th Chef Kevin Stewart will be teaching a Fall Preview and Monday evening Marilyn will be teaching Herbal Blends. Join us, we would love to meet our readers!  

Tune in to our weekly radio show, The FarmGirls Organic Gardening Radio Show on KAAM 770 every Friday at 1 p.m., from our garden gate to yours…

FarmGirls of Garden Inspirations, a garden education company are Marilyn Simmons and daughter, Donelle Simmons.  You can email us at farmgirls@gardeninspirations-tx.com and join our weekly email by signing up through our website: www.gardeninspirations-tx.com, like us on Facebook!  Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. to the FarmGirls Organic Radio Show on KAAM 770 AM.