Winter In South Central States: Winter Gardening Tips For South Central Region

Winter In South Central States: Winter Gardening Tips For South Central Region

By: Susan Albert, Freelance Garden Writer

Winter may be a time for plants to take a rest, but not sofor gardeners. Andif you live in the South Central region in winter, there may be even more youcan do, depending on your specific location.

South Central Winter Gardening Tips

Here are some tips in preparation for winter in SouthCentral states:

  • After two to three hard frosts, clean up perennial beds by cutting back dead foliage and mulching with leaves or compost. If you prefer, sturdier plants can be left uncut to add winter interest in the garden and give extra protection to the sleeping perennials. In addition, plants such as echinacea, coreopsis, zinnia, cosmos, and rudbeckia provide seeds for goldfinches and other birds in winter.
  • Protect plants from freezing by applying a 2- to 3-inch (5 to 7.6 cm.) mulch around shallow-rooted plants such as astilbe, heuchera, and tiarella. Organic choices such as chopped leaves, straw and pine needles decompose quickly and will enrich the soil by spring. Gravel can be used as mulch for plants that require good drainage or drier soils.
  • In late winter, prune shade trees, if needed, and summer flowering shrubs such as crape myrtle and butterfly bush. Prune roses in late winter before foliage leafs out.
  • Continue to feed and provide water for winter birds. Clean bird houses before new occupants arrive in early spring.
  • Spray trees such as oaks, pecans and hackberries for gall-producing insects before foliage emerges.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs annually.

South Central Winter Garden Veggies

Depending on your specific climate zone, you may be able toenjoy fresh produce all winter. Check with your localextension agent or local nurseries to find out which vegetables do bestduring winter in your hardiness zone. In South Central states, hardiness zonesrange from 6 to 10.

Here are tips for growing vegetables in the South Centralregion in winter:

  • Add compost to your vegetable beds before planting.
  • Veggies that do well in southern gardens include beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, dill, fennel, kale, lettuce, parsley, peas, rhubarb, spinach.
  • In colder climates like zones 6 and 7, floating row covers, fabric covers, or cold frames can extend the season. Also, start seeds indoors so they will be ready to go outside in spring.
  • In zones 8 and 9, many vegetables can be started in January and February such as asparagus, snap beans, lima beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, radish, and potato.

Taking care of chores in winter will give a jump start tospring.

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Vegetable Gardening in Austin, Texas

Vegetable gardening in Austin, Texas has challenges as well as many rewards. The summers are hot and humid compared to other parts of the country, but the winters are mild. Gardeners can grow vegetables year round. Austin is located in the hill country of central Texas, where the city enjoys surrounding lakes and many wildflowers.

Learning the Central Texas Gardening Calendar

KRLU’s Central Texas Gardener is a great resource to advise local homeowners on what you should do in your yard on a month-to-month basis. Every single month, you can see suggestions on what to plant, what to prune, which plants you can move, what prep work you should do, what fertilization tasks to perform and more.

To give you an example of the type of information you can find, here is a list of some of gardening to dos for the months most of us are thinking about our outdoor areas:

  • Prune dormant perennials, evergreen shrubs, ornamental grasses and roses (early).
  • Although February is better, you can still spend March moving trees, shrubs, roses, and perennials. Just do so as early in the month as possible.
  • Add compost to perennial beds and trees.
  • Fertilize citrus (do this every couple of weeks throughout growing season), perennials, and trees.
  • Dig away grass from tree trunks for several feet.
  • Keep an eye out for powdery mildew.
  • Use a natural fungicide.
  • Mow weeds before they set seed.
  • Plant turf.

  • Prune bougainvilleas that haven’t already been pruned for overwintering, spring bulbs that have brown foliage and dead heads from flowering plants.
  • Move succulents.
  • Add compost to perennial beds and trees if you haven’t already done so.
  • Dig away grass from tree trunks for several feet if you haven’t already done so.
  • Continue to fertilize citrus, perennials and trees.
  • Fertilize lawn.
  • Add mulch to perennial beds as you cut back dormant plants.
  • Add mulch to trees and roses (but avoid their bases).
  • Watch for: aphids, green lacewings, ladybugs, largus bugs, spider mites, squash vine borers, stink bugs and tomato hornworms. Consider trying natural garden pest control to see if those methods are effective.
  • Protect your plants from bugs and the various kinds of damage they can cause by blasting them off with water, checking the undersides of leaves, picking them off by hand, putting damaged leaves in the trash, spraying with a natural caterpillar control and deploying grasshoppers.
  • Continue to mow weeds to prevent them from setting seeds. Remove any clippings with weed seeds.
  • Continue to fertilize lawn.
  • Plant lawn and water it until it is established.
  • Do a soil test.
  • Add compost and organic fertilizer to veggie gardens.
  • Continue to weed.
  • Continue to watch for powdery mildew.

  • Prune dead heads from flowering plants, perennials that bloom in the fall, shrubs and roses that flower in spring, spring bulbs with brown foliage, tomato plants (remove sucker shoots) and vines.
  • Move any remaining succulents and spring blooming bulbs.
  • Continue to fertilize citrus.
  • Fertilize foliar feed flowers and veggies using liquid seaweed.
  • Fertilize bougainvilleas using high nitrogen.
  • Watch for the same bugs and bug issues as in April.
  • Change your lawn mower’s setting to “high” and only cut the top 1/3 of the grass.
  • Naturally fertilize your lawn by leaving the clippings in place.
  • Make sure to collect any seeds from plants that bloom in the spring and save them to plant in November.
  • Continue to watch for powdery mildew.
  • Continue to add mulch to trees and roses while avoiding the base.
  • Continue to weed.
  • Water new plants deeply regardless of rain, and check the soil down to 3 inches.
  • Write down bug habits and bloom times in a garden journal to revisit in future years.

  • Prune dead heads from flowering plants, perennials that bloom in the fall and any “once-only” spring bloomers you still haven’t pruned.
  • Move any remaining succulents and spring blooming bulbs.
  • Fertilize the same as in May.
  • Continue to watch for aphids, green lacewings, ladybugs, largus bugs, spider mites and stink bugs.
  • Keep mowing your lawn regularly following the guidelines above.
  • Collect and save seeds as described above. Also, collect cilantro seeds after they have completely dried.
  • Continue to add mulch to trees and roses while avoiding the base.
  • Continue to weed.
  • Continue to water new plants deeply regardless of rain, and check the soil down to 3 inches.
  • Continue to write down bug habits and bloom times in a garden journal.

Whew! And that’s only some of the tasks that are recommended. For just four months. As you can see, gardeners in Central Texas can stay quite busy keeping their garden looking great and keeping plants healthy.

Winter Garden Region

The Winter Garden Region is an agricultural area on the South Texas Plains north of Laredo that centers around Dimmit, Zavala, Frio, and LaSalle counties. It is noted for its year-round production of vegetables by irrigation. Before irrigation transformed the region, it was an arid area of short grasses and mesquitemesquite trees. In the late 1890s area farmers began experimenting with dry-land crops and irrigation. The first Bermuda onion crop was raised near Cotulla in LaSalle County in 1896, and commercial onion culture began in that county in 1898. At the same time Dimmit County farmers began to utilize artesian wells and dams to provide water for irrigated crops. When rail transportation reached the area in the first decade of the twentieth century, a major land boom ensued, as the ranches that covered much of the area, including the Catarina, the Seven D, and the Cross S, sold land for irrigated farms. The number of farms almost tripled in LaSalle County between 1900 and 1920, while the average value of an acre of farmland in Dimmit County increased from $1.80 in 1900 to $24.60 in 1910 and then to more than $40 in 1920. In Zavala County the 96,000-acre Cross S Ranch was divided into ten-acre farms between 1905 and 1907, and the number of farms in the county tripled between 1900 and 1930. The most important crops in the region were onions, spinach, beets, and strawberries, though cotton dominated in Frio County some citrus fruit was also harvested, and nut trees became increasingly important. The population of the region more than tripled between 1900 and 1930, reaching 36,816. With the increased costs of irrigation by the 1930s and the economic impact of the Great Depression, the boom in small farms came to an end. While there were still many small farms, much of the region was returned to ranchland, and irrigated farming became a large-scale enterprise in many areas. Corporate ownership of large farms became increasingly common after World War II, with such major companies as Del Monte establishing canneries close to the fields. In the 1990s the Winter Garden counties were still among the leading producers of winter vegetables through irrigation. Zavala County had some 40,000 irrigated acres in 1995, and Dimmit was also among the leading irrigated vegetable-growing counties.

William Bollaert, Observations on the Geography of Texas (London, 1850). Zachary Taylor Fulmore, The Geography of Texas (n.p.: Rand, McNally, 1908). Terry Jordan, Texas: A Geography (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984). David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836–1986 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987). Frederic William Simonds, Geographic Influences in the Development of Texas (Austin: Journal of Geography, 1912).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mark Odintz, “Winter Garden Region,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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