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.
Vegetable Gardening in Austin, Texas
Successful vegetable growing in Austin depends on adapting to the soil and the weather conditions of the area. Austin has a garden zone hardiness that is between Zone 8 and Zone 9. Choosing vegetables that grow well in this environment is important. It is also important to shield more delicate vegetables from the intense heat that summers may bring.
Austin, Texas Growing Climate
Most rainstorms in Austin happen during the spring. Summers are hot, with the temperatures from June to September averaging 90 degrees or above. The humidity is around 80% throughout much of the year. While winters are mild, expect a couple of days of below-freezing temperatures. Gardeners should shield susceptible vegetables during those times. On average, Austin gets around 30 to 35 inches of rainfall annually. Watering will be less of an issue during the rainy months, but keeping the vegetable plants well-watered and tended will ensure stronger plants for healthier produce year-round.
With this climate, it is best to follow the first and last frost dates when sowing seeds. The last spring frost date is usually between February 1st and March 15th, while the first fall frost date is around the end of November. Check your seed packets to plan the best dates for planting seeds outdoors. Starting seeds indoors may be best for more fragile vegetables, or for those gardeners wanting to get an early start.
The Austin area is surrounded by limestone, and depending on where the garden is located, soil may be sandy or clay-like. Have the soil tested to check the pH levels as Austin-area soils tend to be more alkaline. Amend the soil as needed for acid-loving vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and beans.
Vegetable Planting Times in Austin, Texas
Recommended times to plant are found on the backs of seed packets or on seedling containers. Local garden centers will have vegetable plants available during optimum planting times as well. For a more detailed list of vegetables that can be planted during the spring, summer, fall, and winter months, visit the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension's Vegetable Planting Guide.
What to Plant in January, February, and March
The weather during the early part of the year is cool and a bit rainier, making it the perfect time to plant cool-season vegetables. These vegetables germinate and grow best in cool temperatures, and often bolt or get bitter (or both) when temperatures start to soar.
What to Plant in April, May, and June
Temperatures start heating up during this time of the year, so it's time to start getting those heat-loving veggies planted. Planting them now allows them to get established before the hottest temperatures arrive.
- Black-eyed peas
- Snap beans
- Sweet corn
- Sweet potatoes
What to Plant in July, August, and September
You can plant fall veggies during these months. These can withstand some heat, but will also grow well in cooler temperatures.
- Collard greens
What to Plant in October, November, and December
Much like the early part of the year, the end of the year is perfect for growing cool-season vegetables in Austin.
- Head and leaf lettuces
Local Gardening Groups
Gardening clubs and horticulture groups have a wealth of information for their members, and are a very helpful resource for gardening in Texas for beginners. If you're moving there from another region, it's a big help having experienced local gardeners to ask for advice and tips. They can also provide help or resource contacts to local gardeners. The Austin area has many active gardening groups.
Year-Round Gardening in Austin, Texas
If you can take the heat, Austin may very well be one of the best places to garden. You can grow vegetables year-round and still have a decent (if short) rainy season. Since Austin is in Zone 8 to 9, you have a wide range of plant options open to you!