When we think of winter we usually think of colder temperatures and no more growing season. But if you are new to western Texas or just trying out gardening for the first time, there are plenty of vegetables that can be planted right now. The majority of our state lies within hardiness zones 7-9. That makes the winter climates in western Texas are ideal for an extended vegetable growing season. Our low number of hard freezes and frosts allow for cold-hardy vegetables to be planted in late fall or late winter. The cooler weather also offers the benefits of fewer pests, less intensity from the scorching summer sun, and less time spent watering.
What gardener doesn’t love having fresh broccoli on hand? Broccoli is a very hardy plant that is resistant to pests. Broccoli can be grown in both spring and fall, but if you plant in the early spring make sure the plant matures before the heat of summer. Once mature, the head can be harvested with a knife. Afterward, smaller offshoots will develop on the sides for later harvest.
Carrots are a root crop that grows underground and therefore protected from the cold of winter. Carrots can be planted in mid-summer for winter harvest or early spring for summer harvest. Actually, carrots grow much better in milder temperatures. The hot summer sun can cause the plant to wilt or become scorched.
In Texas, most garden greens are cool-season crops and prefer to be grown in the early spring or fall. Some greens, especially kale, will withstand temperatures below freezing and can be grown all winter in many areas. Kale can survive the cold early winters of the north so the climate here in west Texas is perfect for it.
Like carrots, potatoes are a great early spring root vegetable. Potatoes are a unique vegetable in that they can grow from themselves. All you need to do is cut up those old potatoes in your pantry and plant them in your garden. Make sure they are not moldy or rotten and the more eyes present, the better. The eyes will grow to become the roots of the new potato plant. Irish potatoes are not grown from seed. Instead, pieces from the potato itself start new plants. One large potato can be cut into quarters and grow four new plants.
Brussels sprouts are part of a group of vegetables called Cole crops. Cole crops include cold-season crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Brussels sprouts do best in full sunlight
in sandy loam soils with plenty of organic matter. To increase yields, Brussels sprouts need a soil pH balance of 6 to 6.5. Start Brussels sprouts indoors around Jan 13 – Jan 27 and transplant into your garden around Feb 24 – Mar 9.
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