Growing up on a beautiful ranch in Central Texas allowed me to have many unique and memorable childhood experiences. Gardening is one that holds special meaning for me. I still love spending time in the garden with my dad, growing our own delicious and healthy foods! My dad’s heart has always been in working the land where he grew up. He’s developed quite a knack for gardening, and he sat down with me to share some tips:
- Take time to till a space for your garden. This softens soil and creates space for oxygen to flow through.
- Texas is hot! Fortunately, most fruits and vegetables thrive in full sun. Try tomatoes, squash, okra, peppers, peas, and corn. I’ve had success growing these during spring and early summer.
- For tomatoes, spread black plastic over your soil before planting. This keeps moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from growing up around your plants. To plant, cut holes in the plastic, and place a gallon can around each plant. This will allow water to permeate the soil around the root system and keep ground crawling insects from reaching young tomato plants.
- You do not have to use pesticides. Pesticides kill good bugs and can be bad for your health. There are many organic options for pest control such as diatomaceous earth.
- Check the soil moisture before you water. If it feels damp, wait another day to water. Tomatoes split when they are watered too much.
- Check on your garden daily. As my dad often says, “There is nothing better for a garden than the footsteps of the farmer.”
- Alternate between plots yearly, especially if you notice that your garden is not doing as well as it had in previous years. Plants use up the nutrients in the soil. You may also rotate plants within the same plot.
- Have fun and don’t get discouraged! Each plot of soil is different, and each gardener has different talents.
Written By Stephanie Clendennen, Community Programs Intern