by Texas Homesteader ~
It’s only March, but there’s much to do now to prepare for your vegetable garden. Spring is almost here, y’all!
Decisions need to be made. Do you know what you’ll plant this year? What does your family like to eat? What about companion planting?
I’ve been both planning for (as well as actually working in) my garden already. For my garden, I’ve made a Simple Spreadsheet to track the data on my garden each year. It helps me see what I grew where last year and I’ve noted companion planting data too.
Your garden will obviously be different, but it’s easy to set up a spreadsheet like this. Or some people just use a notebook and hand-written notes. Whatever’s easiest for you.
OK, so you’ve got the garden planned. Now you need to get started. Come see what’s going on this month for planning our garden…
Seeds Already Planted In My Indoor Greenhouse
I planted my ‘Indoor Greenhouse‘ a few weeks ago. By doing this I’m able to plant heirloom seedlings (hard to find living in the middle of nowhere) for just the cost of a few packets of seeds.
I’ve actually planted most of my seeds in repurposed Cardboard Tube Seed Pots again this year. For those seedlings I’ll be able to just drop them cardboard tube and all into the ground when the danger of the last frost has passed.
Using these cardboard-tube planters means I can more gently transplant those fragile seedlings. The paper tube simply biodegrades back into the soil and feeds the earthworms as well.
But until then they’ll grow into healthy seedings inside my indoor greenhouse setup right now.
Here in Zone 8 our typical last frost is around March 20th. So my sweet little seedlings will be going into the garden soon.
And how about this little misstep? You see, I wanted to grow salad greens all year long inside. That way I could harvest fresh greens for our healthy salads right there at my kitchen windowsill.
So for Christmas I was gifted a self-watering pot, potting soil and a couple of commercially-sealed packages of salad-greens seeds. In this case, Caesar lettuce and spinach.
So I eagerly planted those seeds and waited for them to sprout.
But wait, what’s this? Some of those sprouts looked like neither lettuce nor spinach. They almost looked like… tomatoes!
So before they got any larger I carefully removed the tiny seedlings and replanted them in some repurposed single-serve yogurt containers saved for me several years ago by a family member.
As they grew larger it was obvious that they were indeed tomatoes, although I have no idea what variety they are!
A few weeks ago I repotted those tomato seedlings again into larger yogurt tubs. They’ve grown like gangbusters, y’all!
They’re being hardened off now to be ready to transplant into the garden as soon as I’m comfortable that the danger of frost has passed for the year. I’ll be watching the extended weather forecast for the best opportunity to plant. (for us here in Zone 8 it’s around Easter)
So this year’s garden bounty will be obviously be quite different than years past. Although I typically plant only about 4 tomato plants in my garden each year, it looks like there will be 13 tomato plants this year!!
I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be preserving tomatoes this summer for sure.
Weed Control In Walkways
I’ve also been working out in the garden itself.
You see, I’ve had a system in place for years for keeping weeds and grass out of my garden’s walkways.
Less weeding? Yes please! Plus it will still help to conserve moisture & also attract earthworms. SCORE! All garden goodness right there!
I’ve started by covering my walking rows with biodegradable, repurposed heavy paper Weed-Block. It’s free y’all, I’m just using the empty feed sacks we have in the shed.
This makes the crunchy-green girl inside me happy, as it not only saves me time on my hands-&-knees pulling weeds, but it also makes good use of a previously-wasted byproduct.
But paper feed sacks laying on the ground in my beautiful garden just aren’t attractive. So I topped it all with Free Bark Mulch from our county.
Yet another helpful use of a previously-wasted resource. This feed sack/wood mulch is my garden setup each year. And it’s always worked great.
Looking For Something More Permanent
But although I’m thrilled to use resources that were previously wasted, it involves lots of work to redo all of the walking rows in the entire garden each & every year.
Although I know I’ll still repurpose those things in my other planting areas, I’m contemplating getting some sort of heavy-duty weed blocking fabric to lay in my garden instead. One & done every year appeals to me.
I’d really like to have a product that can hold up to the UV so it doesn’t have to be covered. Although the bark mulch we get is free, it also deteriorates enough that weed seeds brought by wind or birds has an opportunity to root.
I’m not getting any younger, ya know. So I’m trying to make setting up my garden each year as chore free as humanly possible. Work smarter, not harder RancherMan always says.
So if you have any experience with a great product, hit me with your recommendations!
Problem With Raised-Bed Design
Several years ago we purchased wide wood boards & built raised beds in our garden. But in our area Bermuda grass is the bane of all gardeners. And it caused me untold amounts of back-breaking grief.
It would aggressively grow & march right into the garden, under the wood frames of the beds and into our planting areas where we’d lose the Bermuda grass battle Every. Stinkin’ Year.
Thankfully I’d found a way to finally eliminate Bermuda-Grass battle from my smaller raised landscape beds, but those wood-framed raised beds in my garden were an ongoing problem with Bermuda grass.
And there was way too much fruitless digging to try to rid my garden of the Bermuda grass. These wood-framed raised beds just won’t work for me.
So we ripped up the frames & started planting in bare rows directly on the ground instead. At least that way we could keep the Bermuda grass under control.
Different Kind Of Raised Beds This Year
But I’m not getting any younger, ya know. Raised beds offer a little physical assistance in gardening. So instead of those wood-framed raised beds in past years, we’re experimenting with REALLY raised beds.
We bought a galvanized trough to plant. I used EcoBricks for the drainage at the bottom and started filling the trough with planting material.
I borrowed an idea from the Hugelkultur type planting and topped the ecobricks with thicker branches cut from dead trees. Then thinner branches & twigs were placed on top of those.
Finally I finished filling the trough with sandy topsoil. I amended the soil with aged manure, shredded leaves and compost and let it sit for a few months.
(you can read my 5-Frugal Things – Garden Edition for details)
In addition to the the galvanized trough, we’re utilizing a few large 30-gallon buckets for additional raised beds. I’m anxious to see how those raised beds work this year!
Square Foot Garden Experiment
I’m planning to experiment with square-foot gardening in those beds this year too. I was amazed to read that you can plant NINE green bean plants in a square foot!
But green beans are started directly in the garden each year. So we’ll see how that goes as the gardening season gets started.
So other than that, it’s still early enough that there’s not much going on in the garden. But there will for sure be lots more to report next month!
What about you? Are you planting yet or still in the planning stages?
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How Vegetable Gardening Can Change Your Life!
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Compost Old Confidential Documents
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- How To Grow Fresh Salad Greens In All Seasons
C’mon by & sit a spell! Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing! You can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram.
If you’d like to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live it’s EASY to
Subscribe to our blog!