by Grace Bryce
This month’s article is full of gardening resources. Gardening is fun and easy. You can grow your own food and teach children or grandchildren about gardening and nutrition. After a crispy Texas summer, temperatures are cooling off and we’ve finally gotten some rain. It is a great time to plant herbs and vegetables in Central Texas. Oh yeah, and in the fall and winter, it is not too hot to work outside.
Timing & Temperature
Fall gardening involves plants that will mature and bear vegetables before the last frost date. Winter gardening involves plants that will grow and produce even in the very cold temperatures. It is important to know the first and last frost dates. Here are links for great interactive maps for those dates depending on where you live. Texas has so many variations, so check for where you live. Last Frost Date First Frost Date
Check out this interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for Texas for average minimal temperatures, for more specific places and temperatures. The growing season can be extended for a little while, by covering the plants with row cover.
Plant what you like to eat.
Some vegetables are cool weather vegetables and some like the heat. See this chart for Travis County (Austin, TX) what to plant and when to plant it. Check with your county extension agent for information on planting in your county.
Vegetable varieties make a difference for where you live. This site will give recommended varieties by Texas region. It will also tell the number of days until harvest. Here are more gardening tips from season to season.
Get the soil ready.
Your soil may need to be amended. I would stay organic and avoid the chemicals. Check with friends who have horses or chickens and ask for some manure. Adding it to your compost pile will help to break down other things in the pile and provide nitrogen that can be added to your soil. Add your kitchen scraps to your compost pile daily. Check this link for more info about organic choices and composting.
Go to this link, for month by month information, about what to do in your garden and what to plant for Central Texas.
Where to plant?
Once you have your soil ready and you’ve chosen which plants to want to grow. Draw a simple garden plan of what you will plant where. Raised beds do well in Central Texas and allow for drainage. If you are East of I-35, you will have more soil to work with in the ground. If you are West, you will be lucky to have 2 inches before you hit rock. You can also grow many things in large pots, grow boxes or small intensive beds, you don’t need land to have a garden. Keep in mind how large the root system is when deciding on the depth of the bed or pot. You will need to consider that the deer will eat what you plant, if they can get to it.
Here are a couple of little herb books with a lot of information about planting and growing herbs and what they require. Herbs generally do well in poor soil and most grow well over winter (except basil, it is tender in central Texas). You can even grow a lot of your culinary herbs in your kitchen window in a pot. Cilantro is a good fall/winter herb to grow, and it goes to seed after the weather gets warmer. If you have never gardened before, herbs are a good place to start.
Whatever you plant, don’t forget to add the Love.
More resources for gardening in Central Texas visit my resource web page.
Have fun and go plant something!
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