The key for successful planting and cultivation of most autumn vegetable crops is triggered by our reaching a nighttime temperature differential. When nightly lows start getting close to or below 70 degrees, usually around mid-September in our area, we can start planting.

In general, broccoli, cabbage and radishes can be directly sown in the ground or transplanted in mid-September through November. Carrots, onions and lettuce do better when started a little later, in mid-October, when daytime temperatures begin to dip a bit lower as well.

If you are interested, mid-October is also a good time to plant herbs; four of my favorites, dill, cilantro, fennel and parsley, will offer savory additions to your meals throughout the winter.

Crops planted in the autumn usually make it through our winter better with a mulch layer to help protect them from the sporadic hard frosts and freezes that we tend to experience. I would also recommend keeping a frost cloth “blanket” on hand to cover your plants with if one of those type of events threaten.

Darrin Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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Darrin Duling
Author: Darrin DulingEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens located at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road in Humble. I hold The Royal Horticultural Society of England certificate of training, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, diploma of horticulture and a Master of Science degree in plant taxonomy from the University of Reading, England. I have worked in botanic gardens in England, Thailand, Florida and New York, and was sole proprietor of Duling Designs LLC, a landscape design/consultation business in Greenwich, Conn. My botanical explorations have taken me to Brazil, Brunei, Sabah, Singapore, Thailand, Peru and other exotic destinations.

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