Friday, September 27, 2013

What is Gidget planting now in central Texas

As a garden nerd, I am a part of several garden groups on Facebook and it is so much fun to come together with gardeners from all around the world to get advice, discover new ways of addressing common garden challenges and share in the excitement of beautiful harvests.

This morning someone suggested that I may be able to offer advice about what to plant at this time in central Texas because that is where I live now. I never really feel qualified to give advice because I am always learning new techniques for better ways of doing things. I feel like I'm an infant gardener because I've really only been doing it for a few years. All of my previous experience was in San Diego (zone 10) which is a very different climate than we have here in Elgin (zone 8B).

Gidget says, "It gets really hot in Texas."
It seems like a lot of people get their garden prepared but then they just aren't sure what they should plant. What to plant in the garden when is always a very common question and it's one I am always asking and rechecking.

If you are just starting to garden then one of the first things I would suggest you do is determine which growing zone you're in. This information will help you determine which plants are hardy in your area and it's the best place to start when trying to determine when you should plant certain crops for the best results. The National gardening Association has a great website where you can determine your zone quickly by putting in your zip code. Then you can research planting guides that will basically give you everything you need to know about when to plant the things you want to grow.

The Austin area has some fantastic resources and people who really want to help you succeed. One of the best places I've discovered here for incredible advice and everything you need to get started is The Natural Gardener.

The Texas Agrilife Extension is another great resource and they have a great planting guide for Travis County (our neighbor). It will tell you exactly what you can put in during any 2 week period. Of course, none of this is foolproof. Gardeners are always at the mercy of the weather and other factors but these are some of the places I went to arm myself with the information I needed to start our first garden here in Texas.

Nothing is more frustrating then nurturing plants along only to have them die before you get to harvest anything because you planted it at the wrong time. Farmer D and I really want to grow our own potatoes for the first time but according to the planting guides for this area, we should have had them in by the end of August. In my past gardening life, I may have went ahead and tried them now anyway but I've learned that it's better just to wait until the next good time to plant, which is February in this area. Using space for and working on plants that will probably not be successful isn't the wisest choice. That's okay because there are many things we can plant now.
The beginning of our fall garden
We started on August 29th so we cut it close getting a few things going that it would be too late to start now. Cucumbers and beans are examples of that. We also bought an already established cherry tomato plant and planted summer squash in the last week of August. We put in Chinese cabbage and Swiss chard seeds in the first week of September. Last week, we put in spinach, peas and scallions. Yesterday I put in carrot seeds and I will continue planting things like lettuce later on in the season.

Another thing to consider when deciding what to plant is how much your family will need. Again there are a lot of great resources online to help you determine this but my favorite is a good old fashioned book.
One of my favorite garden books has great advice on how many plants you'll need. 
You'll want to determine how many plants per person you will need so you don't end up with too much of one crop and not enough of another. We do have more summer squash planted than suggested right now but part of that is because I relocated some of the plants when I was thinning them over to our new experimental hugelkultur bed. We have about 9 summer squash plants which is probably 3 more than the 2 of us need. Luckily Farmer D loves dehydrated squash chips so they won't go to waste. Plus I understand neighbors generally love to have huge amounts of zucchini dropped at their door.
Gidget and Ron inspect peas, zucchini, sage cilantro and Chinese cabbage in hugelkultur. 
At this point we only have about 25 shelling pea plants going and we plan to plant more because our trusty book says to plan an average of 25 to 60 plants per person. We want to have plenty to freeze so we are going to plant at least 25 more now and then up to 50 more again in a couple weeks. The planting calender says we have another month in which we can plant them and I hope to have a continual harvest all fall and into the winter. 

Here's a list of safe bets if you're going out to plant seeds today. It's a great idea to plant today because we have rumors of life giving rain on the way for the weekend. Happy planting!
  • Beets 
  • Carrots
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

Hermione and Willy are ready to get started.

1 comment:

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