SUCCESSFUL WINTER GARDENING IN 2020
Yes, it helps to be in the Coastal Bend of Texas, 300 yards from Copano Bay which moderates temperatures, and to have 12 years of experience in the sugar sand that used to be sand dunes on the Gulf of Mexico eons ago. During those 12 years, I have added 13 cubic yards of clay to my 54’x30’ garden area, plus 4+ yards of enriched compost per year, many bags of soy bean meal, cottonseed meal, bone meal, Azomite trace minerals, Humate, dried molasses, Soft Rock Phosphate, and composted chicken manure. I have learned to make Liquid Microbial Concentrate (LMC), made by aerating enriched earthworm compost with rainwater, molasses, liquid kelp, fish emulsion, and other soluble organic fertilizers, and sprinkling it on my plants and their root zone. I also spray Spray-N-Grow along with Bill’s Perfect Fertilizer weekly.
Since Christmas I have been harvesting 11.5” W x 6” T broccoli and cauliflower heads, leaf lettuce, spinach, bunching onions, both Daikon and Watermelon radishes, turnip and mustard greens, bunches of cilantro, plus Myers Lemons, Temple Oranges, Rio Red Grapefruit, Clementine Oranges and kumquats. The short-day onions are up between 5-10” tall. The carrots tops are close to 12”. While the tops of the tomato, jalapeño, and zucchini squash plants were burned by a light frost, they all have come back growing and blooming. I should have ripe tomatoes in 2 weeks.
What I am most amazed by are the English and sugar snap peas that Texas Gardener Magazine says I can’t grow here in this zone. The Maxigolt English peas with excellent sweet flavor are 3’ tall and loaded with pods. The Mr. Big English Peas are 2.5” tall with many blooms. The Sugar Ann snap peas are about 20” tall with showy blooms. However, I did not read the total description of the Magnolia Sugar Snap Peas when I ordered them. They are already 7’ tall on new support strings attached to 8’ metal poles. They can grow to 9’. They have dozens of purple blooms and will have purple pods.
I have already replanted a second crop of lettuce and spinach. I will plant pole beans by February 1st if the weather permits. I will need to clear and re-fertilize a place for the bush beans, squash, and cucumbers. I have various cole or brassica crops, tomatoes, and peppers seed coming up under a grow light in my garden shed.
One of the down sides of having such enriched living soil is that it grows tall healthy deep-rooted weeds and grasses which can take over in the almost unbearable humid heat of the late summer/early fall. Hurricane Harvey blew in some weed and grass seeds that I had not had before. I cut and pulled up over thirty 40-gallon garbage cans full of weeds and grass this last October. My new year’s resolution is to till, hoe and/or pull up all grasses and weeds before they get over 6 inches tall this year.