Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Farm and Ranch

February 2, 2012

Should we get started in the vegetable garden?

The wonderful rain and the multiple days of milder temperatures are probably turning your thoughts to “Should I try a vegetable garden this year?”

We all remember last year’s no rain and high temperatures, but we always lean towards being an optimist. So maybe.

There are many advantages to growing fruits and vegetables at home. A successful garden will provide you with a constant supply of fresh, healthy produce at a reasonable price.

It presents an opportunity for much needed exercise and helps relieve life’s stress through daily “garden therapy” and best of all its fun and brings you an enormous satisfaction from growing your own food.

So we cross our fingers and say a little prayer that the rain will keep coming. But, do be careful with early starts since Texas can go back to winter with the next weather forecast.

But here are a few tips to get the plan started:

• Select a sunny location with access to water. Make sure it is within eyesight because “out of sight, out of mind” will apply and gardens do better with daily attention.

• Prepare the soil well by adding at least two inches of compost to weed free soil and work in with a spade.

• Plan your space well and avoid a garden bigger than you can handle. A successful small garden is better than a large-scale failure.

• Choose plants and seeds that are adapted to your area. Check with your local county extension office for recommended varieties.

• Have a soil test done and fertilize according to the recommendations.

• Start seeds indoors early or purchase plants from the garden center and set out in the garden at the proper time for your area.

• Mulch well to conserve water, prevent weeds and keep the roots from overheating.

• Stake or trellis plants as needed to conserve valuable growing space in the garden.

• Check the garden frequently for signs of disease, insects and weeds and treat accordingly.

• Harvest often to keep plants in bearing mode. Pick in the morning while it is still cool.

Stacy Estep of Burleson is a Master Gardener and Wildbunch writer. She volunteers for Texas AgriLife Extension. For information, visit

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