Most gardeners have been anticipating the arrival of the first “genuine” cool front. With all due respect to the science of meteorology, my definition of a cool front in the fall is one that gets your attention by immediately uplifting your spirit when you first walk outside in the morning.

Most gardeners are now eager (or at least far more willing) to venture out into the home landscape and garden. In light of this heightened enthusiasm, here are some activities for the fall gardener to consider:

Fall plant sale: The master gardeners will sponsor their annual Fall Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Galveston County Fairgrounds north of state Highway 6 in Hitchcock. Plants to be offered include many types of fall vegetable transplants, citrus trees, Texas-Tuff perennials, bulbs, garden art work and more. A presale presentation will be offered from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m.

Save caladium tubers: Caladiums are getting past their prime with the onset of cooler weather. If you plan on saving caladium tubers for another year, be sure to dig them up before the top growth disappears — those tubers can be very difficult to locate after the top growth is gone. Allow the tubers to air dry for seven to 10 days in a well-ventilated but shaded area.

After drying, gently remove any attached leaves and large soil particles from the tubers then store in dry peat moss, vermiculite or similar material in a well-ventilated container. Pack so that the tubers do not touch each other. Dust with an all-purpose fungicide to help prevent decay. Store the tubers in an area where temperatures won’t drop below 50 degrees F.

Plant cool season vegetables: Transplants of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and a wide variety of vegetables for the fall growing season should be transplanted into the garden.

Control cool season weeds: Most lawn weeds that we see during late winter and early spring sprout in the fall. They are cool season weeds and, in fact, their germination is stimulated in the fall by the onset of cool temperatures. They grow during winter if temperatures stay warm enough, then produce a crop of seeds in the spring and die out when hot weather arrives.

Use of pre-emergent herbicides to control cool season weeds is effective only if properly timed, i.e. they should be applied very soon after the onset of relatively cool weather conditions. Several pre-emergent herbicides are approved for lawn use and are sold under a variety of commercial labels. Check with your area garden center or feed store for available products. Always read and follow label directions.

Plant shrubs and trees: This is an excellent time for planting container-grown ground covers, shrubs and trees. Thanks to our mild winters, trees and shrubs planted now will have several relatively stress-free months to establish a good root system before hot, dry weather returns.

Dr. William M. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Visit his Web site at

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