Well guys and gals, spring is here. No, not according to the calendar, but by my own declaration.
This morning when I was driving to the hardware store, I saw my favorite doe. When spring weather arrives for good, she begins to graze a particular pasture with the cows. Itís the only time I see her in the pasture with the cows, but itís how I determine, at least at the top of the hill country, spring has sprung.
Therefore, I say it is time for an official TFF gardening thread.
Now is the time to get your beds, or garden, ready to plant. If it hasnít dried up yet, you could actually look into using a raised garden bed, or even growing in containers. If you are fortunate and are able to plant directly into the ground, but have clay, or any poorly draining soils, you can remedy the problem by adding peat moss and/or sandy loam to the soil and tilling it in. I would also take this time to add nutrients such as nitrogen (chicken poo is a GREAT source of nitrogen, but you might want to cut it with brown, or fallen leaves (they add carbon to the soil). Green leaves will add more nitrogen to the soil. For those of you in North Texas and East Texas, due to the rains, you might need to add some gypsum, or limestone, to the soil, especially if you plan on growing healthy tomato plants. I would suggest having your soil tested before adding this, but itĎs a good possibility your ground has been oversaturated and needs replenishing.
Once this is done, you are ready to begin planning your garden. I would suggest plotting out your garden on a piece of paper before planting. If you grow the same vegetables in the same part of the garden every year, rotate them around. Also, leave plenty of room between the rows so that you can either till or hoe the ground throughout the growing season without risking damage to the roots. While the tap roots for the plants are pretty much directly under the plantís stem, the entire root system is important and damaging it could weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to disease. When making plans on how you want your garden laid out, consider adding plants along the border that will attract bees. If you can get a hive coming to your garden on a daily basis your crop production will increase by approximately 30 percent.
I have had my onions in the ground since January, but itís still not too late for you to plant yours. Many feed stores still have some available and with the wet weather we should have this spring, it wonít be long until yours make substantial growth. My sweet peas are in the ground now AND I was able to purchase 60 (total) tomato and pepper plants this morning. Although the morning temperatures are going to be too low this weekend for mine to go in the ground, I will be introducing them to the cooler temperatures for the next 7 to 10 days. I will, however, be planting my cucumber, yellow squash, zucchini and okra seeds this weekend .
One more thing, if you do have tomatoes, remember MATURE plants ONLY require .5 to 1 inch of water a week. If the plants are browning up, it might be a pest problem, or a disease, but itís more than likely they are getting too much water. I would suggest investing in some soaker hoses (at least for the tomato plants), or hand watering, and be certain to keep any sprinklers from hitting them. Itís best to water after the sun has risen in the spring and during the heat of the summer around 4:00 in the morning.
Guys and gals, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The sun stays out longer, baby animals are appearing every day, fish are beginning the spawn, and the vegetation is beginning to sprout or green up.
While I donít have a degree in horticulture, I do have many, many, many years of experience thanks to my mom and grandfather getting me interested when I was young. Itís a very relaxing hobby for me and if you have any questions or tips, please post them here so we can all gain knowledge from one another.
***One thing I forgot to mention, because of the strong possibilities of hail storms, I would suggest keeping your plastic milk jugs and 2 litter bottles. They can be rinsed out, the bottoms cut off and placed over small, tender plants to protect them. Just leave the lids off when you place them on the plants. They can also be used in case of a freeze, but I seriously think we are for the most part out of the woods (at least down here)...