by Tim Miller
To those who have never had a backyard garden, don’t be afraid; food doesn’t just magically appear the next day.
When cultivating a garden, you have to consider what to plant, when to plant, when to water, but most importantly how do you go about it.
A shovel (a digging fork is even better) and a garden hoe can do it all if that is what you only have. While experienced gardeners have raised beds backfilled with soil from GeoGrowers, Gardenville or Natural Gardener, you don’t need that.
To make a tiny raised garden, try using a cinder block. Take your garden tool, scrap away all the grass in the footprint of that block, loosen up the soil 2-4 inches deep, take out that soil in a bucket, then put the cinder block in that footprint with the soil. Your block becomes a simple raised bed for pole beans – put 2-4 seeds in each hole. Now take a t-post, pound it in, attach a 5-foot tall x 1-foot wide piece of wire to the t-post. This method works for some types of cucumbers as well.
Gardens take time. If you have a backyard cedar fence, buy a 10-foot hog panel fence and lean it up against the fence. In the area between the panel and fence, lay down cardboard and sheets of newspapers. Now take five-gallon nursery pots or buckets with holes in the bottom, fill them with soil and place them beneath the leaning hog panel. Plant cucumbers or melons in each container, putting in 2-4 seeds per container. This creates less mowing with this simple trellis and now when you do mow, you have a place to throw your grass clippings – on top of your cardboard, making a nice compost pile.
Do you have a pile of bricks just laying around? Arrange them on cardboard in a 3-foot square with a 6-inch hole in the middle of your backyard. Buy a bag of garden soil, put some of it in the hole and plant a zucchini seed, or tatume squash if you find it, in the center. The bricks help with heating the soil, water retention and looks great.
Cherry tomatoes can withstand less sun, but not your large beefsteak types as they need full sun and more water. Almost all would be better off caged or staked. Your garden is an investment so buy better quality tools, better cages and better seeds. Lowe’s, Home Depot and Natural Gardener has these items as well as plants and seeds. Texas Extension has recommended planting dates and the use of recommended varieties for our area is encouraged. Remember if you want a garden, using any weed and feed products can be harmful to vegetables.