Gardening is challenging for me in Texas. Our first year was great with a well-tilled plot with watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, onions, and of course, lots of tomatoes. After moving, I struggled. First, there was the drought and I couldn’t keep the ground saturated. The next year, as the corn sprouted and tomatoes budded, the grasshoppers came and destroyed my efforts in a day.When we finally bought our own place, I tried try hay bale gardening and while I liked the concept the chickens ate most of the seedlings. The tomato plants did great though and I highly recommend hay bales if you have limited space – and no chickens.
Last year, Jim Bob borrowed a tractor and tilled nice area. He then put up fencing but before I could get the soil ready, Johnson grass and other weeds took over. I took out the tiller to go over the soil again but the engine had seized. I hand turned a small area and the tomatoes and squash grew well, especially with alpaca beans added to the soil. The rest of the garden was an embarrassment.
This year, I finally have a long-term plan – raised beds. I bought several and Jim Bob built a couple. I placed cardboard under the beds to deter the weeds and set about planting. Having collected a couple of year’s worth of seeds, I direct sowed most and started some inside. Now, everything is planted with a mixture of last year’s hay/chicken manure and alpaca beans mixed in the soil.
So far, things are looking great! The spring rains have helped to get the seeds sprouting beautifully. The rest of the garden will be an ongoing work in progress. The weeds keep coming but the long-term plan is to cover the unused area with cloth, stepping-stones and rubber mulch. The mulch is pricey so it’s going to take time to buy enough but it looks just like real mulch and lasts for years. And it’s made from recycled tires so the dogs won’t be tempted to steal pieces of wood when I’m not looking.
Eventually, I think the garden will look great but more importantly, I am finally getting growing again. Now I just hope another biblical plague doesn’t dash my hopes.
While it’s not about the garden, I had to share these pics of Hooch and Luna helping me pick blue bonnet seeds. Each year, my blue bonnet patch more than doubles from picking and tossing as many seeds as I can bear to pluck.