Planning for an abundant spring garden
As you look out your window, dreaming of a lush garden, you see patches of grass, muddled between dry, worthless dirt. You pop a not-quite-sweet, store-bought cherry tomato into your mouth and ask yourself, “Is this going to be the year?” You imagine your drought-ravaged yard crying out, “Yes, please, let this be the year!”
If it is the year you plant a spring garden, you’ll enjoy many benefits, according to Carol Hoke, a Master Gardener at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Plants produce lots of oxygen. . ., and no grocery store can beat the taste,” Carol says.
Despite your zeal, maybe you don’t know where to start. Charging blindly into the gardening process can lead to all sorts of complications. Carol offers five steps for preparing for a spring garden.
Get a soil test. Pack up soil samples to be tested by a lab. Depending on garden size, you may wish to sample more than one area. The test results provide an idea of how fertile the soil is and indicate whether it’s free of deficiencies.
Clean up your garden area. Returning gardeners can likely skip the soil test and jump straight into pruning back plants, removing all things dead from the previous garden, and making room for a new, lively garden.
Add compost. Both new and existing gardens need compost (decomposed organic material such as manure) to thrive. According to Carol, compost “gives soil a boost of nitrogen,” allowing it to produce great vegetation.
Plant the right seeds. Before dropping that seed into the ground, it’s important to know which plants thrive in Georgetown during the spring. “If I were doing it, I’d do pole beans, carrots, collards, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, squash and watermelon,” Carol says. She also recommends Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac for ideas.
Add mulch to the surface of the garden. Mulch could be grass clippings, hay, sawdust, etc. Carol says, “Mulch holds moisture in, keeps weeds out, provides organic matter, and keeps the possibility plant disease at a lower level.”
Follow these steps to a successful spring garden and, by May, you’ll be munching on your own homegrown veggies—and saving on your grocery bill.
Get your soil tested from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, at the Williamson County AgriLife Extension Service
3151 SE Inner Loop Ste A
Georgetown, TX 78626-6343