Thinking back over 2020 –
One thing that really stood out to me was the incredible interest in gardening, in landscaping, in raising chickens, and in all things outside during the time that we were first required to stay home.
I remember visiting with feed store owners and garden center managers and listening to them talk about how they could not keep seed in stock or items on the shelf for folks wanting to get out and try their hand at the vegetable garden.
So, I ask, “how’s that garden going?” Did you stick with it? Was it productive? And honestly, is this something that you want to continue?
I hope you did stick with it, I hope it was productive, and I really hope that you want to continue your efforts outside.
But where are we now? As I write this, it is colder and wetter, and generally not the type of weather that would move one to get outside. However, this cold, wet, dead-of-winter time is the best time to study what is going on and plan for a successful garden. Do not confuse my remarks with any encouragement to wait until spring, I am pushing for quite the opposite!
In our climate it is perfectly acceptable and perfectly reasonable to get outside now and get busy on a vegetable garden or on any other part of your landscape. So, what can you work on now? I am building a larger, better compost pile for my own yard. The small 4-foot by 4-foot square compost pile has worked well but is not big enough for my needs. I will be doubling mine in size in the next couple weeks.
If you enjoy the vegetable garden but want to make it a smaller and more productive area, then go ahead and make a raised bed garden. Make it no wider than 4 foot and as long as your heart desires. The 4-foot maximum width is to allow you access from each side. At the elementary school gardens, our Master Gardeners only build them 3-feet wide, because the kids have shorter arms! Just be sure to put it in the area that is close to a water source and gets as much sun as possible.
In that empty garden bed, plant onions, peas (such as English, snap or snow peas), cauliflower, or cabbage. All manner of “greens” including mustard, spinach, swiss chard, collards, kale and Asian greens. Radishes is an easy to go to option along with other root vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and beets.
In a flower bed area, I want to re-establish some asparagus crowns. I lost some and want that as a part of my landscape again.
These upcoming weeks are the perfect time to plant fruit trees. Take some time to study what varieties of peaches, plums, apples, pears, or other fruit trees will grow well in East Texas. And for those mentioned, be sure and put them in full sun on your deepest, best-drained soil.
If you have plenty of sunshine but have poor soil, then I would suggest planting some thornless blackberries or perhaps a mayhaw! Mayhaws will thrive in good soil but certainly tolerate wet, soggy soil. Be sure to plant two varieties of almost every fruit that you do want to have so that you can get good cross-pollination.
Got other ideas of what you want to accomplish? Yeah, I do too. If there is any good thing that came out of 2020’s stay-at-home routine, it may have been some renewed interest in all things that you can grow and work on in your own back yard.
I hope 2021 sees you successful and continuing in these outdoor pursuits.