The end of summer can be a major disappointment to many gardeners. Picking the last vegetables from a summer harvest can be somewhat disheartening to those who look forward to eating fresh crops. Gardeners in the Midsouth, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, need not be discouraged by the onset of fall. There are still a number of crops that can be planted and harvested well into the winter months in this region.
Plant the types of vegetables that will grow in this area during the winter months. Select onion, rutabaga, Swiss chard, turnips or radishes.
Plant vegetables at the proper time in order to ensure a winter harvest. Plant onion from October through February. Plant rutabaga in July and Swiss chard, turnips and radishes in September.
Start seeds indoors in a seed starter kit six to eight weeks before the time for planting. Place a little bit of potting soil in the compartments of the seed starter kit. Place a seed in the soil and cover it over then water and place the lid on top.
Prepare a garden spot that receives eight to 10 hours of sunlight each day even during the shorter days of fall and winter. Look for an area that has a building or line of trees on the south edge of the garden that will provide a windbreak for your winter vegetables if one is available. Make sure there is no standing water on the ground and that it does not receive runoff from a hillside.
Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of manure to the soil using a garden spreader attached to a lawn tractor. Till the soil with a rototiller to a depth of 10 inches to evenly mix the manure with the soil. Allow the garden spot to cure for about a week before planting vegetables.
Plant the seedlings you have started indoors by digging a hole 2 to 3 inches deep in the soil using a garden trowel. Plant these seedlings when soil temperatures are at least 50 degrees F. Cover the roots of plants with soil to a depth of 1 to 2 inches.
Continue planting seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart in rows that are 4 to 6 feet long. Allow 2 to 3 feet of space between each row.
Water plants just after planting; after this, water them in early to mid-afternoon with a garden hose. Make sure the ground is wet around the base of the plant but that the ground does not hold water. Mulch the garden with a 4- to 6-inch layer of pine straw in an area that is 4 inches in diameter around the vegetables.
Cover your vegetables in the event of frost. Lay an old blanket carefully over the top of the plants in the evening, taking care not to crush them. Remove the blanket the following morning when temperatures have reached 35 to 40 degrees F.