Smith County Extension Agent
Gardening is still very popular as people get a sense of accomplishment by growing their own fresh fruits and vegetables.
Seed selection is another thing to begin studying in the fall and winter months. Deciding on which varieties of seeds or transplants to purchase allows you time to locate these so you will not be late in planting. When possible, use greenhouse or other indoor opportunities to start some vegetables as it may give you a head start come springtime. Avoid planting too early as some varieties can get injured due to freeze damage.
Do you have limited room? There are options for you as well. Raised beds, container gardening and other creative options allow anyone to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Some have even grown a small vegetable garden in their flower beds.
Some people grow in containers and bring the container in and out according to extreme weather patterns. Citrus, for example, is one that may be successfully grown in our area but it will require some attention to do so. Container gardening with vegetables can be successful as well. A number of vegetables can be grown in containers. Vegetables grown in containers include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, tomato, peppers and squash. Container gardening is also popular with young children to help get them interested in growing a garden.
The location of the garden is important. Select a site that is well drained and in full sun for most varieties of vegetables. Sometimes when vegetables do not grow like they should it is because we planted in an area that has too much shade and not enough sunlight.
Pests of the garden can be a problem. Weeds, insects and disease of various crops can affect our yields. Mulch can be important as they can help keep moisture near the plant yet provide some nutrients in the organic matter as it breaks down. Mechanically or hand pulling of weeds can keep our garden looking good yet prevent weeds from robbing our plants of nutrients and water.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has a number of research-based educational publications on specific fruit, nut and vegetables that may be helpful in your gardening venture. We also have planting guides for various fruit, nut and vegetables that can be helpful as you begin preparation for your spring garden. Soil test information sheets and bags are available at our office as well.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.