Starting a Central Texas Spring Vegetable Garden
Central Texas vegetable gardens can be challenging, as well as rewarding. The Central Texas area has mild winters and hot, humid summers. Planting vegetables at the proper time is important. There’s a small window of time in spring between the blazing heat of summer and freezing temps of winter. If you wait too long to get your spring garden planted your yields may be low and struggling in the heat. Planting too early and a late frost could destroy all your hard work.
To get a head start on lets say tomatoes, keep your plants safe from the unpredictable final frost, you could consider planting in pots or milk jugs. In Central Texas you can plant tomatoes several weeks ahead of spring by potting them and keeping them in a bright window for a head start on the season.
For some, a huge perk for having your own homegrown vegetable garden is its a way to make sure your produce is grown without pesticides and other chemicals. Many studies have shown that organically grown food has more minerals and nutrients than food grown with synthetic pesticides.
Preparing the Soil
Soil is the foundation of any garden and to maximize your vegetable harvest make sure you have spent the time to prepare your soil. Not only should your garden drain properly and receive proper amounts of sun, you should build rich, fertile soil for your plants to feed on. Its a good practice to amend your soil once a year, in the spring, with manure compost, dry organic fertilizer, and mulched leaves. Unless you’ve been preparing, your garden is probably lacking organic matter. Build up your garden with compost and any other lacking nutrients. When in doubt on the condition of your soil, a soil test is time and money well spent.
Let the Sunshine In
Most vegetable plants prefer full sun exposure so selecting a good gardening site is important. Most people in neighborhoods may have small yard space or an overabundance of trees making sunny garden locations hard to find. Direct sunlight is a must for a productive garden. Fruits (melons, tomatoes, peppers) and roots (radishes, carrots, turnips) need at least six hours of sunlight a day. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and collards can tolerate less sun.
What to Plant, When to Plant
March 1st to 15th: Beets, chard, collards, endive, kale, lettuce, mustard, peas, radish
March 15th to 30th: beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, eggplant, squash, spinach, watermelon, pepper, tomato
Most herbs can be planted in March, either by seed or by transplant. Parsley should be planted in the first two weeks of March. Keep in mind basil can not tolerate frost, not even a light frost.
Many people in Central Texas say to not plant any garden plants until after Easter in order to avoid a late frost. I’ve seen this is a pretty good rule to follow.
Staying on Top of Weeds
Weeds are a serious problem to any garden. They rob plants of sunlight, water, and nutrients. Weeds also contribute to vegetable diseases and provide hiding places for insects. It’s important to control weeds while they are small and before they get out of control. Methods of control include hand-pulling, cultivation and mulching. Lightly scratching the surface of the soil when they are tiny seedlings will destroy them. Left unmanaged, weeds can have strong roots in just a few weeks and will be much more difficult and time consuming to control. Avoid controlling weeds with chemicals.
Usually plants and seeds come with planting and growing instructions. This information is fantastic as its tied specifically to that particular type of plant. Happy gardening!
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Spring Vegetable Gardens in Central Texas