Garden Thyme: How to Celebrate Harvest Season in Texas
Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch or Fall Festival
Visiting the pumpkin patch is a must on the fall to-do list. But have you ever wondered how pumpkins became such an American fall staple? It turns out that pre-columbian natives grew pumpkins as one of the first crops for eating, long before beans and corn. Pumpkins were favored because of their thick flesh, and they could be stored in cold weather.
Today, pumpkins are a versatile fruit that can be eaten in various ways or used for decoration. The great thing about pumpkins is that you can find them almost anywhere, as pumpkin patches are not hard to come by. Whether you want to make a day of it or just find something small and grab your pumpkin, you’ve got plenty of options. There are several large farms in the area where you can not only find pumpkins but enjoy their seasonal fall festivals including hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, flower patches and more!
P6 Farms’s Fall Festival: 10.1 – 11.6
Located in Montgomery, P6 Farms was created in 1973 by Raymond and Pam Poole as a working ranch for cattle selling and hay production. The owner’s son, Bo Poole, started growing other crops on the ranch and decided to open it up to the public for educational purposes. Now the farm exists as a place to learn agriculture in everyday life while providing fun for the whole family.
There is plenty to do at P6 Farms, including a sunflower patch, pumpkin house, a pig race show, corn maze, farm animals and tons of rides and kid’s activities. Not only that, you’ll find some amazing barbecue and other fun snacks to keep your tummy happy. You can buy tickets online at p-6farms.com
George Ranch Historical Park’s Pumpkin Round Up: 10.15 – 11.26
If you’re a history buff, this is a unique destination in Richmond, Texas for the whole family. The park features four historical home sites dating from the 1830’s to the 1890’s and a cattle ranch built in the 1930’s. Tour the homes, watch the cowboys tend to the cattle, and take photos at the elaborate pumpkin display! Visit the website to learn more about their Pumpkin Round Up: georgeranch.org
Dewberry Farm’s Fall Festival: 10.1 – 11.13
This large 115 acre piece of land in Brookshire, Texas that used to be part of a 2,000 acre rice farm. Larry Emerson purchased this land in 1996 to conduct agricultural research. In 2002, he decided that kids were more fun than writing research papers, and opened up the land for agricultural entertainment. There are 33 attractions for families and children to enjoy, including a barnyard, eight acres of a corn maze, tons of pumpkins, a ferris wheel, a train, and more! Learn more about the fall festival and buy tickets at dewberryfarm.com
Harvest Fall Produce
It’s not only harvest season for pumpkins, but many other tasty vegetables and fruits. The lowering of the temperatures when cooler weather approaches enhances the flavor of many autumn crops. Harvesting can be a fun family activity in the backyard or at a local farm, and not to mention the countless yummy fall dishes you can make!
Cool Weather Greens
While lots of crops grow well in summer, there are some cool weather crops that will mature best in cooler weather conditions. In order to time these correctly to be harvested in fall, you will need to plant them in mid or late summer. Because the soil is already warm, the seeds will germinate more quickly. The plant will later mature once the weather cools down.
Cool weather greens will do well for a fall harvest like leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard and more. Sugars accumulate in plant tissues as temperatures decline, resulting in sweeter and more flavorful crops. This same phenomenon happens with root vegetables like beets, turnips, radishes and more.
What is fall without some delicious winter squash? Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash—add a little butter and brown sugar and you’ve got a whole meal. Since squash takes a little longer to fully mature, these are best planted soon after the weather begins to warm up. Winter squash can take between 80 to 110 days to fully ripen. Pumpkins, for example, need to be planted near the end of May or beginning of June to ripen in October.
If you’re up for a road trip, apples are another fall recipe staple and a fruit that is harvested in October. Similar to pumpkin patches, apple orchards make for great photo opportunities and excursions with the family. Apples are usually harvested between late August and late October, depending on the variety of apple. Not every apple harvests at the same time, so be sure to check which apples you’re picking. During the month of October you can harvest Idared, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Golden Delicious apples.
Although we have access to almost any type of produce we want at the store, it’s best to cook meals with foods that are in-season. Harvesting crops from your own garden or visiting orchards will keep your kitchen stocked with fresh, local and seasonal produce this fall.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the breezy fall weather—it will be gone before you know it! Take the family on a pumpkin patch excursion, harvest some fall produce and make your favorite fall recipe together.