|Thomas & Stephane’s Gardening Corner|
Growing a fall garden in Texas is ideal with our cooler temperatures. Gardening is not an exact science or art.
Everybody has something go wrong from time to time. The best advice we can give is that through trial and error you can overcome some of the problems on your own. The best way to educate yourself is to do research. Go to your local library to check out gardening books. When you find a book that you like, go to places like Amazon.com and you can find used books for as little as a $0.01 and shipping for $3.99 or even Hastings or Barnes & Noble sell used books too. One of our favorite gardening books is the series of Rodale’s Successful Organic Gardening.
Organic gardening means that you do not use chemicals for pest control. Making your own compost can be beneficial to your garden. We use a method called the trash can compost. All you need to buy is a 20 to 30 gallon trash can (metal or plastic both will work), a hammer, a nail, small bricks or small boards and a large pan. Turn your trash can over, using a nail and hammer, punch several holes in the bottom. Place the large pan on the ground where you are going to store your compost, put the bricks or boards in the pan and place your trash can on top of that. The pan helps trap the liquid that may run out the bottom of your can. Follow these 3 steps:
Keep the lid on the trash can and every few days add to your compost, just keeping repeating the same 3 steps. Your compost will be ready in 3 to 4 months. There is no need to turn the compost.
Planting a fall/winter garden can be started from seed or by buying the plants from a feed store or home improvement store. Vegetables that grow in Texas this time of year are; broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, radishes, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and turnips just to name a few. With our climate in Texas you can plant and grow many of the vegetables from the spring/summer months. For spinach, plant 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost. Spinach plants are to be planted 4 to 6 inches apart and about ½ inch deep in the soil. Spinach requires regular watering and takes 40 to 60 days to mature. For tomatoes, plant 24 to 36 inches apart. You will need to either use a cage to put around them or when they get taller you can stake them. Tomatoes will mature in about 50 to 90 days. For turnips, plant 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost and ½ inch deep and 3 inches apart. Turnips will mature in about 35 to 60 days. For peppers (jalapeno, bell, banana, poblano, etc), plant 10 to 15 inches apart and remember that peppers will cross pollinate. If you plant sweet peppers close to hot peppers, the sweet will have a little bit from the hot peppers. Peppers take 50 to 80 days to mature. You can plant broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower directly in the ground about 90 days before the first frost or plant indoors in cups or peat pots about 60 days before the first frost. I use the small Styrofoam cups from the dollar store. You can write on the cups what seeds you have planted and reuse them for some other seeds later, just mark out what was written on them before. Space the plants 12 to 24 inches apart, for bigger heads. Lack of water will stress the plants and will hinder their growth. Allow 60 to 120 days for full maturity. Plant leeks 6 inches apart and 6 inches deep and cover all but 1 inch or so of the leaves. As the leeks grow pull taller, keep the soil pulled up over the leaves. This will help produce a bigger white stem (the edible part of the leek.) Keep the leeks well weeded.
In our articles to come, we will discuss how to make organic pesticides and what pests are attracted to what plants. We will inform you on how to harvest the vegetables in your garden. If there are any questions that you might have the internet has a world of knowledge at your finger tips. Your local agriculture extension office can help. Good luck and remember this is trial and error. You will make mistakes and things will happen, but do not lose faith or focus.