Planning out your vegetable garden

Planning out your vegetable garden
Source: Texas A&M AgirLife Extension

Coming out of a very cold weekend may not be the time that most folks plan for spring gardens. Getting into the 20’s sure puts a damper on working outside.

But working out a plan on paper and thinking thru what you want, what you are willing to do, and the resources it would take, that’s what your spring garden needs right now.

Testing your soil needs to be done as soon as possible. Do and online search for “SFA soil sample form”. From those results you should quickly find the form to print off for a regular $13 analysis. If you cannot get it from the internet, stop by my office next the Angeline County Farmers Market or email me at my address below and I’ll send you one.

Follow the instructions. A quart freezer bag is the perfect item to send your soil off in.

Is $13 too much? Not when you compare it to other costs of a garden as well as the frustration too many folks have for poor results from their efforts.

Now as you plan, keep it modest. When we do decide to garden, we can often go big and that sets us up for failure when schedules get tight, the weather turns hot and the weeds get ahead of us. My personal suggestion is to start with a garden the size of a small bedroom.

Yep, that is small, but can be enough to keep up with and provide plenty of food for your family. A garden area I still use is a raised bed garden with four old wooden pallets.

Those small plots grew lots of cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. You can start a small garden by placing newspaper on the ground you are going to cover with a pallet. Place your pallet down and then add one bag of good garden soil between the slats and you are ready to go.

Secondly, choose a location with a full day’s sun. Full sun, all day long, is crucial to optimum vegetable growth and production. Lack of sunlight because of our beautiful tall trees is a common problem and one that may determine where you can put your garden. If you don’t have such a place, opt for the location that gets plenty of morning sun and some afternoon shade.

Use good soil. Too often we expect a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Your tomato plant can make 20 lbs of fruit IF it is in good soil, rich in nutrients. Compost is always your best friend. Add compost every year and incorporate into the soil.

Put the garden in a spot that is easy to water. While this isn’t a problem with most, there will be a few where watering becomes quite a chore.

And along with not having the garden too far from water, don’t have it too far from the house. Ideally, you want it visible from your kitchen window. So close, in fact, that it’s on you mind because you see the garden everyday and are reminded to harvest the potatoes and find those red tomatoes hiding in the dense vegetation.

Let’s be honest, you get in front of the seed display and think “Oh! I’ll try these! I bet I can find a good recipe for them.” Perhaps you can but be truthful and plant that which your family likes to begin with. I think growing beets would be fun, but my family is not a fan of beets. When starting out and limiting your space, plant what folks are looking forward to eating.

Bottom line: just go plant something.

Research has found repeatedly that gardening is the ultimate medication! In addition to medication, studies show gardening helps fight high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and more.

Besides your physical condition, gardening helps fight depression, and leads to improved sleep, improved relaxation, and overall mental wellbeing.

This Monday, Jan 21, at 6:30 pm, the Angelina County Extension Office will hold a free seminar on Home Vegetable Gardening. Dr. Joe Masabni, professor and vegetable specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, will be our guest speaker.

County offices will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Day, but the meeting will be held that evening.