February Garden Prep

For those of us who live in Texas and some southern states it is time to start thinking about the spring garden. In Texas I grow two gardens – a spring garden and fall garden. I start planting the spring garden the last week of February thru the first week of April.

The first planting in the ground is of peas, brussels sprouts, radishes, green beans and plants that like cooler temperatures to grow and produce. Before I can plant seeds I need to get the planting area ready. I used a raised bed system of gardening due to the coastal grass that will take over a garden planted in the ground. Those who plant at ground level, now is the time to start tilling and raking to remove the coastal grass that invaded the garden last year.

As I begin to prep my garden area, I am deciding where I am going to plant each plant. I rotate the places where I planted squash and cucumbers to keep the squash beetles at a minimum. Planting squash and cucumbers in the same place every year increases these pesky insects that can kill the squash plant and shorten your harvest. The beds need additional nutrient rich material added, either compost or in my situation sheep manure. I usually add the sheep manure after I have pulled the plants from the fall garden. Adding the manure in the fall allows the natural elements to break down the manure releasing the nutrients for the plants.

The time has arrived to start the tomato plants inside. I use a two “solo” cup method of starting tomato plants inside. One cup has a rock in the bottom and is used for letting the water drain from the cup holding the soil and seed that will eventually be a tomato plant. The cup that I will put the soil in and plant the seeds has small holes in the bottom allowing for drainage. Seeds and plants will die if there is too much water. I fill the cup 1/2 full of soil for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant seeds. I use potting soil or seed starter as soil when I am starting seeds inside. I do not reuse the starting soil as the nutrients are mostly gone. Using fresh potting soil or seed starter helps my seedlings get a good start before placing them in the garden.

A picture showing the two cups I use for starting seeds.

After the seeds sprout, I will gently add more soil to the cup. Doing this creates a good root system for the seedling to grow into a plant once placed in the soil outside. When the time comes to plant outside, the cup has been filled to 1/2 inch below the rim with soil.

Cups with various stages of tomatoes starting to grow.

Punxsutawney Phil may have forecasted six more weeks of winter, but spring will arrive and I want to be ready for a summer and fall harvest of fresh vegetables for my table.