The (Fall) Gardener Within (podcast)

Sep 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Featured Articles, podcast, the show
Cabbage Seedlings

Cabbage Seedlings

As I write, fall is still the better part of a week away, but that hasn’t stopped vegetable gardeners living in warmer climates from beginning their fall gardens — and doing so with abandon.

To these urban agrarians, turning the soil, planting seeds, and adding transplants to prepared garden beds is as good as it gets.

That is — until it’s time to harvest and eat the fruits of their labor.

As many vegetable gardeners also cook (but, of course!), you can bet that a bushel of them know how they’re going to prepare and preserve the harvest long before they’ve excavated the garden soil from beneath their fingernails.

I imagine Liz Baloutine is one of those exuberant gardeners and cooks.

Liz is a professional gardener who operates the business Seedlings Gardening. She designs, builds and tends organic gardens for Central Texas restaurants and catering companies.

She’s even taken to teaching others how to create their own food gardens from scratch, or how to refurbish and existing garden, in a course she’s entitled: The Gardener Within.

“I decided to teach classes after I realized how many people were asking me how to start a garden or grow a certain vegetable or troubleshoot garden problems.”

People in their twenties to folks who’ve stopped counting their birthdays are finding or rediscovering vegetable gardening. Whether that’s the result of the economic downturn of the past few years, or the upturn in our interest in locally sourced food and home cooking — it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that more people are engaged in a more intimate relationship with the soil and their super.

And Liz says fall is an ideal time for first-time gardeners living in warmer climates to try their hand at growing their own food, as autumn is more forgiving: the temperatures are cooler, the pest and disease problems fewer and the produce hardier and possibly even better for you.

“I think it’s an ideal time right now, seeing as the highs are only in the low nineties,” she told me through laughter. On the verge of leaving a summer of triple digit highs behind her, you can understand why low nineties might make a gardener a little giddy.

While it’s getting late to revisit summer crops, fall crops including, but not limited to kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are easy to grow, incredibly nourishing, and versatile as foodstuffs go.

So now’s the time for you folks living in warmer climates to try your hand at food gardening. And if you live in the Austin, Texas area — Liz Baloutine can coach  you through it.

No matter where you live, a useful first stop for vegetable gardening information is your local county extension service.

Below is a fall planting guide for Central Texas gardeners.

What to Plant

Last Day to Plant in Central TX

Seeds or Transplants

Rate of Maturity

Beans, snap bush September 1 transplants quick
Beets October 15 seeds
Broccoli September 1 transplants moderate
Brussels sprouts September 1 transplants slow
Cabbage September 1 transplants slow
Carrots November 10 seeds moderate
Cauliflower September 1 transplants slow
Chard, Swiss October 1 seeds/transplants quick (may cut and come again)
Collards October 10 seeds/transplants quick (may cut and come again)
Cucumber September 1 transplants moderate
Eggplant July 1 transplants slow
Garlic (cloves) October (all month) cloves slow (harvest in late spring)
Kale September 15 seeds/transplants quick (may cut and come again)
Lettuce, leaf October 10 seeds quick
Mustard November 1 seeds quick
Parsley October 10 seeds/transplants moderate
Pepper July 1 transplants moderate
Radish November 25 seeds quick
Spinach November 15 seeds quick
Squash, summer September 10 transplants quick
Squash, winter August 10 transplants slow
Tomato July 1 transplants moderate
Turnip November 1 seeds quick
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