By Texas Homesteader ~
Come see what’s growing in my Homestead garden. And I’m sharing tips like my favorite garden-planning tool, two ways to get an early start on starting seeds, my favorite raised bed, the benefits of living mulch, making my own soil and MORE!
Let’s stroll through my NE Texas Homestead garden and see what’s going on…
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
How To Easily Plan A Yearly Vegetable Garden
One of the biggest planting decision aids for me is a spreadsheet where I’ve formatted my garden’s layout.
NOTE: The photo above is an example of my own garden’s layout. Your garden will be different but this photo shows what mine looks like. For your own garden you can use a *Garden Planner Notebook or maybe some sort of*Downloadable Garden Planner . (I’m not personally familiar with these products, just offering something to get your search started.) I’ve heard good things about Clyde’s Garden Planner too.
Of course you could also format something similar to what I’ve done on your own *Spreadsheet Software.
Using my homemade spreadsheet I have my past garden plantings at my fingertips.
I can compare by clicking another year’s tab and looking over what I planted where back then. That helps me make sure I’m rotating my crops each year.
Starting Seeds Early For My Homestead Garden
I like to grow heirloom plants whenever possible. Finding heirloom seedlings out here is a challenge but I don’t want to get behind by waiting to plant seeds in the garden.
So I typically plant heirloom seeds in a setup I refer to as my Indoor Greenhouse several weeks before the last anticipated freeze.
Planting Seeds In Milk Jugs
I also utilize milk jugs to to plant seeds. I really like this method of starting seeds too.
There are some things to keep in mind when planting in milk jugs. So if you’ve never used this handy method I encourage you to read my post about milk-jug greenhouses.
I planted my milk jugs mid February. The seeds sprouted quickly.
Here in Northeast Texas (hardiness zone 8a) it’s generally thought to be safe to place plants in the garden after Easter. Until then I got those seeds grown into seedlings.
Late Winter Garden Maintenance
In preparation for planting I cleaned up the garden by removing the late-winter weeds like Henbit in my garden planting areas.
I have this hori hori knife-styled *Weeding Trowel that makes short work of it.
The forked end grabs hold of the plant’s roots and pulls it out with ease.
Then around Easter I transplanted my vegetable plants into the garden.
Transitioning Vegetable Garden To Raised Beds
Over the last few years I’ve been transitioning many of my in-ground planting rows into raised beds.
Some raised beds are animal water troughs, others are large 30-gallon empty tubs.
But the favored bed in my garden BY FAR is the Best Raised Bed!
It’s open bottom so I used old logs, leaves, etc. to make my own garden soil to fill it up as well as help with drought conditions down the road.
The surrounding wooden benches make gardening and harvest a breeze. I couldn’t be more pleased with it!
Planting Mystery Heirloom Tomato Seeds
A couple of years ago a tomato plant grew at my parent’s house after they had soil excavated from beneath their house to have it releveled. That seed must have been washed beneath their home decades ago – before they owned the house.
Mom saved one of those tomatoes and I harvested seeds from it.
We lost mom last year, so I want to make doubly sure those seeds grow tomato plants. They’re sentimental to me now…
I started those precious seeds in milk jugs, transplanting to repurposed containers when they grew into seedlings.
Easter weekend I tucked the tomato plants into my garden. Now we wait…
Using Living Mulch In A Vegetable Garden
I use Vining Plants As Living Mulch. So I recently planted cantaloupe and watermelon seeds at the ends of those tomato rows.
That living mulch will cover the ground around my tomatoes preserving moisture, moderating soil temperatures and keeping dirt from splashing onto the tomato leaves when I’m watering.
PLUS – using vining plants as living mulch provides us with food. What can you make with living-mulch produce?
Cantaloupe – I eat it fresh or make Cantaloupe Bread (similar to zucchini bread)
Watermelon – RancherMan & I freeze the watermelon cubes and use them for a cold, refreshing Watermelon Smoothie or Daiquiri
Spaghetti Squash – I make it cheesy and lasagna style. Plus there’s plenty to share with friends & family.
Pumpkin – Beautiful for fall decorations, then I cook & puree it to make Pumpkin Granola.
See what I mean? Lots of food coming from using living ‘mulch‘!
Lazy Gardener’s List
For some plants I get a harvest every year WITHOUT planting them every year. My Lazy Gardener’s list is long but includes the herbs below growing in my garden.
Herbs Grown In My Texas Garden
Rosemary – I’ve been able to harvest from it several times already.
Sage – My sage plant is impressive, growing larger every year. In April it shows off its beautiful purple blossoms. A gorgeous example of edible landscaping.
Stevia – I purposely allow my Stevia plants to flower and go to seed in the fall. Then I get many stevia plants sprouting in the spring!
I often relocate the seedlings to various places in our landscape and share seedlings with friends & family.
Oregano – My oregano struggled last year with the drought. But I see it’s coming back now.
Thyme – This is my favorite herb to cook with. And have you seen the dried herb prices in the store??!
Everbearing Strawberries In A Raised Bed
Years ago I planted ‘Everbearing strawberries’ in a galvanized trough next to our back Outdoor Living Room. They came back every year and they’re growing well now.
I’ll use this hack to Trick Birds Away From My Strawberries.
Miniature Blueberry Bush
Several years ago I planted a miniature blueberry bush in a small Galvanized Tub.
It’s already bloomed and it looks like I’ll be able to harvest blueberries soon.
Concord Grapevine Growing Along Fence
A Concord Grapevine grows along the fence surrounding my garden. It’s growing tiny grapes already.
I harvest the ripe grapes in July and make homemade Grape Jelly with them.
Garlic & Onions
Onions – I have Egyptian Walking Onions, which means they plant themselves every year.
They reproduce by growing bulbils on the flowers, which get weighed down, touch the ground, root and make new plants.
These onions are small but nicely strong flavored. So a little goes a long way.
How’s Your April Garden?
So there ya go, a quick tour of my April garden. There are many exciting things going on in the garden this year.
And next month’s garden update will be flowing with garden-growing goodness, so stay tuned!
How’s your garden growing – are you able to plant yet? What will be the star of the show in YOUR garden??
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Planting Seeds In A Milk-Jug Greenhouse
- Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- Easy Homemade Seed Tape
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Where I Found The BEST Raised Bed!
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Rustic Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
- How To Tell When Watermelon Is Ripe
- Luffa A Surprising Zucchini Substitute!
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- 3 Rainwater Collection Systems We Use
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
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