LESSONS FROM MY SPRING GARDEN, 2019
It is important to get an early start on spring gardening here along the South Texas Coast because the hot humid weather often descends in May. I started under the Grow Light my Celebrity, Caspian Pink, Pink Girl, and Sun Sugar tomatoes; 12 varieties of peppers; Cutting Celery; 2 varieties of broccoli, and Caraflex Cabbage which has a pointed head with sweet tender leaves. My San Antonio friend gave me a Harris Moran Tomato plant, which replaces Tycoon. Another friend gave a Mortgage Lifter and Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato plants. I repotted all of these plants to larger pots.
After pulling up all the thick tall weeds in my garden caused by the heavy rains of the fall and winter, I used my four cycle small tiller to prepare the seven raised rows for planting. On top of the raised rows I spread cotton seed meal, bone meal, dry sorghum meal, composted chicken manure, and 2 cubic yards of compost. I buy the compost from a friend who makes it out of oak leaves, pre-garbage from a hotel, plus shrimp and crab shell. I tilled all these fertilizers in and then pulled the tiller backwards to till the top of each row deeper. I used the till pulled backwards and turned at a slight angle to throw dirt up on the sides of the rows. I finished by using a rake to level the tops of the raised rows.
After using the hose to water each row, I planted the plants and seeds so that each different variety was in a different place than last year if possible. The seeds I planted were watermelon, cantaloupe, Maxabell bush beans, Fortex and Algarve pole beans, Purple Hull peas, Ambrosia and Temptress bicolor corn, straight neck and zucchini squash, 3 varieties of cucumbers, and Cowhorn, Star of David, and Bull Dog okra. The okra, which needs the warm sun, takes a while to germinate and may have to be replanted. The Purple Hull peas had to be replanted because the seeds were pre-Harvey old.
The short day onions planted in December, the bunching onions planted in January, the late winter lettuce, and the one winter tomato plant which is still producing ripe tomatoes, are all growing and used in salads. The new tomato plants have thick root stems and the pepper plants are starting to add many leaves as they grow. I have one hill of double Caraflex cabbage plants. I will harvest one of them for making a salad soon and then cut it off so the other one can make a head. I will need to thin the beans and corn soon. I hope the peas and okra come up thick enough so I have to thin them.
One of the draw backs of planting so soon after putting down the organic fertilizers is the composting process uses a lot of nitrogen before it returns it to be used by the plants. Some of the plants can even have a yellow green color in the process. I will compensate by sprinkling a fish emulsion, kelp liquid, molasses, and soluble organic nitrogen mixture.