Our Little Yard Guest

yard guest

We are in the process of redoing my mother-in-laws front, back and side yards. And there is a ton of work to do, after years of neglect due to age and health, Royce and I have tackled something we may not be prepared to do. But, we’re totally committed so new fences to new grass and plants are going in over three growing seasons. There is so much to do it will take that long! This year is the first season of our renovations for her. We are beginning by focusing on the lawn. In the Texas panhandle this is a tall order, apparently, especially when her old lawn has laid dormant for nearly ten years. The only spot to show any old growth after a month of watering is this small patch in the middle of the back yard. We are still waiting for the grass seed to sprout (fingers crossed it does — we’ve had more than the average amount of sand storms this season so our neighbors just may be the proud recipient of a new lawn!) This morning Royce mowed this one little patch of grass and this afternoon an extremely plump bunny settled in and feasted on the clippings.  I think I’d best put a fence around the newly planted garden!

garden Yes, folks that is red clay and sand in them there rows! But we have corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, sweet basil, peppers, okra, red onions and even some flowers here and there.

I’m also putting in a few flower/hardscaps beds in around her long front porch and upgrading some furniture she has out there. Early mornings and late afternoons, Royce and I love setting on her front porch and watching all the birds and rabbits — that our dog Spike chases out of the yard — enjoying each others company and the ever present Texas plains breeze.

 

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Gardening in Shallowater, Texas

Gardening in Shallowater, Texas is going to be a bit different. The soil isn’t as nice as I am use to in the Carolinian’s wonderful region I sprout from nor is it close to what I experienced around the Dayton, Ohio area I gardened in the past three years. Royce will be behind a rototiller digging down into this mix of  soil — some sand, a lot of clay and who knows what else. The earth is so dry he’ll have to soak it right-much to be able to till it up at all. I am thankful his hands will be doing this task!

When it comes to soil in Shallowater, I have yet to decide exactly what I am dealing with. I do know one thing for sure and for certain, the weeds (tumbleweeds and rag weeds) will be a nuisance as will the amount of clay in the soil. I’ve dealt with clay before and done well with that soil but then I have also amended the soil to suit each plot of veggies I planted. For instance, carrots like a more sandy/loamy soil while okra will do fine planted in soil which has clay in it.

I am reminded of the very first garden I helped plant. It was with my Granny Roxie Donnell. She was an avid gardener and a true friend to any living creature and/or plant, a true gift to Mother Nature she was. Besides teaching me to quilt Granny taught me to garden, or as she put it, farm a small section. Her section for vegetables was a 4,800 square foot rectangle between her house and the one we lived in. In addition to the vegetable plot she had a 2,400 square foot one planted with cutting flowers. Gosh, I remember how wonderful her house always smelled. The summer we lived in the small two bedroom house in Danville, I wore out that path through the vegetable garden between Granny’s place and ours. Granny always smiled when she saw me coming, never complained about my presence and just took it in stride that she had a little admirer she could mold.  And mold me she did! I owe my love of gardening to the time I spent stooped over one plant or another learning about its, as Granny put it_ likes and dislikes to make it happy.

When I first began to garden, away from Granny, totally on my own, during my early twenties, I had two pots on my patio, one of some flower I have long since forgotten the name of, and one large pot for a big boy tomato plant. Each was such a success I was on the telephone claiming my bragging rights to my granny, and any one else that would listen for that matter. My love of gardening grew from there. Yours will as well, if you give it time and effort. Even for a first year garden if you lay out a vegetable garden properly, the garden will produce a high yield bounty of wonderful vegetables for you. Make sure to test the soil for pH and amend as needed for what you will plant in each section …. don’t worry about ”being fancy” about design your first year out of the gate. Over time your garden will take shape. Begin small and build upon your success each year.

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It’s important to factor in how much sun your vegetable garden will receive each day. Most gardens require a minimum of six to eight hours to produce well.

Charting your garden area for proper sun exposure is key to a successful vegetable garden. It is as important as water! Vegetable plants need good air circulation, good hydration and good sun exposure to grow into healthy plants that will produce a bountiful crop. Don’t give  up — you’ll get the hang of it sooner than later. Be sparing with the garden hose. Most vegetable plants only need one inch of water per week. Water requirements are easily obtained on the Internet or at your local extension office, who will also do a soil test for  you. Plant vegetable companions for best results.  For years I have planted sweet basil and marigolds in amongst my tomato plants but kept any broccoli a distance away. Look at it this way: I never served, or had served to me tomatoes and broccoli  in a the same bowl — these two are a foe! (see chart below for more suggestions)

FRIEND FOE FRIEND FOE FRIEND FOE
BEANS CORN ONIONS
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Squash
Strawberries
Summer
savory
Tomatoes
Garlic
Onions
Peppers
Sunflowers
Beans
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Melons
Peas
Potatoes
Squash
Sunflowers
Tomatoes Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Lettuce
Peppers
Potatoes
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Peas
Sage
CUCUMBERS PEPPERS
Beans
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Lettuce
Peas
Radishes
Sunflowers
Aromatic
herbs
Melons
Potatoes
Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CABBAGE LETTUCE RADISHES
Beans
Celery
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Onions
Potatoes
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Asparagus
Beets
Brussels
sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Corn
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Onions
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Strawberries
Sunflowers
Tomatoes
Broccoli Basil
Coriander
Onions
Spinach
Tomatoes
Beans
Kohlrabi
CARROTS TOMATOES
Beans
Lettuce
Onions
Peas
Radishes
Rosemary
Sage
Tomatoes
Anise
Dill
Parsley
Asparagus
Basil
Beans
Borage
Carrots
Celery
Dill
Lettuce
Melons
Onions
Parsley
Peppers
Radishes
Spinach
Thyme
Broccoli
Brussels
sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Kale
Potatoes