Ag News: Garden options for the first-time gardener

Ag News: Garden options for the first-time gardener
Family gardening yields more benefits than produce.

LUFKIN, Texas (KLTV) -Now that families are spending time at home due to the shelter-in-place, feed store owners are reporting an increase in sales of vegetable seeds and transplant sales; specifically, vegetable transplants. To quote Robert Massingill, owner at Southland Feed, in Lufkin, he said the vegetable transplants were just “blowing out his door.”

I get it. With the scarcity mindset that some folks are having, raising their own food is the result. I recently spoke with several experienced gardeners and novice gardeners about the uncertainty of food supplies and the price of vegetables due to COVID-19. I don’t think the American farmers and ranchers will let us down, they’ll keep us in abundantly supplied, the food producers are a critical resource.

But gardening can help alleviate many other symptoms of the concerns we have. Most importantly, gardening will help bring families closer together, provide exercise, stress relief, and help us to get outside to appreciate our environment.

Growing your own food does provide healthy eating opportunities. You will never have fresher produce than what you pick out of your vegetable garden.

Want to spend more quality time with your family? During these economic times and this COVID-19 pandemic, shelter-in-place allows a family an opportunity to spend time together producing edible plants.

Want to learn something new? Gardening is a lifetime of learning. Even experienced gardeners are always learning and trying new seed or plant varieties.

Gardening relieves stress, lowers your blood pressure and provides some good exercise. I’m not saying a vegetable garden is easy – not in the least. You’ll sweat. It takes time. And quite frankly, you’ll get really aggravated at the stink bugs and other problems that will reduce your harvest.

One thing that I find cool, is that we are truly blessed to live in an area where we have a choice of growing any kind of vegetable throughout the year. You may not be able to grow much during the hot summer, but you can have purple-hull peas, okra, and a few other options.

Three of the most used methods of gardening for our area include traditional planting of fruits or vegetables directly in the soil, raised beds, or container gardening.

A container garden can be made of flowerpots, feed tubs, barrels, planter boxes, or even 5-gallon buckets. It is important that the container you use that will accommodate the roots of vegetables that you are growing. The container should have adequate drainage and should be free of any chemical residue that may harm the plants or us.

A raised bed is becoming the most popular choice of gardening in our area. They are very attractive to the landscape and provide an opportunity to grow more food in less space. People who do raised beds right, have fewer weeds and less runoff. Beds can be constructed with any a variety of wood lumber, brick, or concrete blocks.

Remember, any garden site needs full sun, well-drained soil, and fertilizer. (Organic or commercial). You will need to keep an eye out for weeds, diseases, and insects.

By planting a vegetable garden, you’ll benefit in more ways than fresh tomatoes, and it might be that family activity that keeps on promoting health, well-being, and lifelong learning.

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