Ah, spring! The sap is running, and the grass is growing, and the bugs are birthing! This is the time of year when everyone wants to be outdoors, and that’s a good thing, since it seems as if Mother Nature wants to make a big show of everything at once, whether it be flowers, lawns, or weeds. Even 20 minutes a day in the yard will make a big difference over time in controlling the unwanted plants and critters, and the rest of your groundscape will thank you for it.
My vegetable garden has been partially planted, but I’m using several different styles of gardening in an attempt to do some experimenting. For starters, I’m Succession Planting, so only small areas get planted with a small group of seeds or plants. After a few weeks, a few more will go in, hopefully insuring a longer harvest period. As things die off in the early beds, summer-type plants will be placed there to succeed in the hotter weather.
Another garden style I’m trying is Square Foot Gardening. This technique has been around since the 80s, and there’s a website (of course) to give you the full details, as well as books in the local libraries. The concept is to plant in one-foot square blocks, using only the maximum number of plants of one type that will grow in that square foot in optimum conditions. For example, 12 radishes grow in one square foot, but only one broccoli plant. It cuts down on thinning out that packet of seeds you poured onto the ground and it gives the appropriate amount of harvest for a family (you multiply the square beds by the number of people). There are also some soil amendments you do to this method, but once you till it up the first time, you never step on the beds again, so it saves work there as well.
Then there’s Companion Planting. In this method, you put plants together that enhance their survival, usually against bugs and caterpillars. For example, the cabbage family loves dill, because dill will be a host plant for caterpillars, and they will leave the cabbages or broccoli alone, giving you a better harvest. Other companions include roses and garlic, or garlic chives; tomatoes and cabbage; cucumbers and nasturtiums; peppers and ragweed; corn and beans; lettuce and tall flowers like cleome and nicotania (the tall flowers shade the lettuce, which the lettuce prefers); and radishes and spinach.
Compost is the key in another technique called Lasagna Gardening. Instead of building a compost bed, you make the compost where you want a garden plot to be. Start with several layers of newspaper over the existing weeds and grass (no need to kill or remove them. Follow up with layer upon layer of grass clippings, leaves, vegetable scraps, etc., in alternate layers until you have a pile about 1 foot high. In a short time, the “lasagna” cooks down, and you end up with rich soil you can stick plants right in. Vegetable and flower beds always benefit from the addition of mulches, and this particular method actually starts with mulch, so you build good soil from the beginning.
Here are a few useful websites and contacts for more information on gardening of all types: The Chambers County Agri-Life Extension Office in White’s Park, 409-374-223; http://www.chambers.agrilife.org. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu. http://www.chamberswild.com. http://www.Texassuperstar.com. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston. http://www.jeffcomg.org. http://www.hcmga.tamu.edu/Public/.
– Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Release date: March 17, 2013
Contact: A. Lynette Parsons