March Garden Update – Trying Something Different!

by Texas Homesteader~

My dad informed me that the Farmer’s Almanac notes the last average our area of NE Texas was March 16th. But I’ve always heard that around here you don’t dare plant until after Easter since those rogue freezes can easily slip in before then.

I always battle myself this time of year – do I plant? Do I wait? Well this year Ole Man Winter has had a death grip on us with ice and snow, and lately the sky has been drizzly/foggy/cloudy for over three weeks straight keeping things in a cold muddy mess. So I guess that decision has kinda been made for me so far! But while in our garage I saw something that got me fired up to at least prepare for planting.

Sudden warmth has gotten me ready to start preparing my veggie garden for planting. This year I'm doing something different - check it out! #TexasHomesteader

I planted a jalapeno seed in 2013 & that fall RancherMan & I dug it up, plopped it in a pot and overwintered it in our garage. We replanted it in the garden last spring and it produced heavily for us again. We thought it might be fun to see if we could overwinter it again and plant it for a THIRD TIME in our garden this spring. But when we dug it up last fall the dirt fell from around the plant leaving just bare exposed roots & it immediately went into shock. We plopped it in the bucket & tucked soil around its roots & placed it in the garage, but soon it got dry & crunchy. I still watered it for a few weeks but I had to admit to myself that it was gone, so I haven’t even watered it since some time in December.

Aaaanyway, as I was in the garage recently I see geen sprouting leaves all over the plant. Oh yeah baby, we’re gonna get 3 seasons out of this one plant!!  What a trooper!

So now I’m all antsy to get started with my garden.  I’ve already planted up my handy-dandy indoor greenhouse with my heirloom veggie seeds & they’re all growing nicely.  I’ve also used my easy garden planner to map out what veggies I’m planting where but I need to actually prepare my garden for planting.  I read over at Prairie Homestead that they used the deep mulching method on the entire surface of their garden to reduce the grass & weed pressure and I was more than intrigued.

I’ve got raised beds that we redesigned last year but in our area of NE Texas we have lots of Bermuda grass – great forage for the cows but maddeningly brutal opportunistic go-getters for ruining my veggie garden.  It’s a struggle all season every year to keep it even partially in check,   Although I constantly keep the walkways around the raised beds mowed the Bermuda will still send massive amounts of underground grass runners beneath the edges of my raised beds & march onward until I’m forced to throw my hands up in surrender.  I’m hoping the deep mulch method in my walkways will eliminate all but the most stubborn Bermuda runners & allow me to FINALLY spend more time puttering and harvesting in the garden and less time in militant-style combat with this grass!

I’ve been in the planning stages for a while & I like to stand by my mantra: “Use What Ya Got!”  I want to lay thick paper down beneath the hay to hamper sunlight from allowing any grass to grow.  RancherMan has been saving feed sacks for me to use – he’s been so tolerant with the sheer bulk of them grappling to take over his feed shed so now’s the time to finally put them to good use.

But I know from past experience that the strings that are used to sew the seams of these feed sacks do not degrade and will end up making a maintenance nightmare down the road if I just lay the bags on the soil & top with mulch.  So I take each of those bags and soak them in water for a couple of minutes to soften the paper making it easier to tear and I pull the seams – string and all – off of these bags.

Now I just straighten the bag where there are no wrinkles and lay the bags out flat over the walkways.  I have plenty of bags so I make sure to overlap generously.  (yes, Bermuda runners will creep along the edges to make it to sunlight.  Grrrr…)  My plan is to completely line the walkways and all edges of my raised beds as well as the inside perimeter of the garden fence with these bags to slow the bermuda’s march into the garden area and hopefully also keep them out of the raised beds.  I’ll leave the larger areas without bags beneath the mulch so that I can pull the mulch back & plant rows of green beans in those areas.

Now that the bags are laid out I’m ready to cover them up with hay.  A few weeks ago I had RancherMan drop a large bale of older rye/clover hay in my garden area.  My hope is that since both rye & clover are cold-weather forages that even if there are sprout-worthy seeds in this hay it won’t interfere with the garden during prime-time.

So I take armfuls of this hay & thickly top those laid-out feed sacks to both hide them as well as keep them in place.  Since I had enough hay I decided to go ahead & deep mulch the actual planting beds as well.

Deep mulching the whole garden. Sudden warmth has gotten me ready to start preparing my veggie garden for planting. This year I'm doing something different - check it out! #TexasHomesteader

When I plant I’ll push the mulch back & plant and then I’ll probably use grass clippings for that mulch topping and I add to it all summer.

Now all that’s left is to drop those precious seedlings into place.  We’ll see if I can actually wait until the first week of April or not… LOL


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22 thoughts on “March Garden Update – Trying Something Different!

  1. Pingback: Veggie Garden Update: July

  2. Patricia

    I keep coming back to this post for some review– we have had terrible time with Bermuda runners too. Plus- when we thought we were moving I let the boxes go. Didn’t prep for a garden. In fact some of those boxes got pulled up and burned.
    Now we’re staying- and finally today, I am able to plant. I almost didn’t. I figured THERES always the Fall. But– I couldn’t help it. I had to plant something!
    So I’m working on that today. May try this paper and hay weed block. I’ve got the feed bags for it.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I know what you mean with you say you HAD to plant something – it’s just in your soul sometimes and completely out of your control. Let me know how it works out Patricia. ~TxH~

  3. Simple Nature Decor

    Thanks for sharing the garden update! I always get inspired by all your creative hard work you do outside.
    See you this Friday on Fabulous Friday
    Big Hugs my friend!

  4. Kate

    Ohhhhh, I wish I could be planting or mulching something! My entire garden is still under snow- but a few low tunnels and the cold frames are finally peeking out through it. I had to resist starting seedlings and just this week finally started tomatoes and a few greens in our germinating trays. Send a bit of warm air to Massachusetts for me! (:

  5. lisa M

    3 years with one plant….that’s amazing!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! I hope you’ll join us again this week!


  6. Terri Presser

    Sounds like you have a good plan and I hope it works for you. Just finished off harvesting our summer crops here so everything is starting to go into cold weather mode, I am already looking forward to spring. Have a blessed Easter and thanks for linking up at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  7. Amanda

    In SE Texas it’s been a pretty steady 50+ at night and 70+ during the day so I went ahead and planted my seedlings over the weekend. I love that you are going on year 3 with that Jalapeno plant. They are such hardy things! I am still kicking myself for not bringing mine from our rental home in Austin to our new home in San Antonio. I bet it would have over wintered just fine as it was still giving me small Jalapenos in November! As always, thank you for sharing with us at Merry Monday! And hang in there, you’ll be getting your hands in that dirt soon!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh Amanda, you’ve got me all jealous over here! I’ll be toying with dropping a few things in the ground this week since Easter is this Sunday. C’mon, SURELY Mother Nature wouldn’t be so cruel as to make me wait aaaaaaaall this time & get down to the wire and then BOOM! Frost. (fingers crossed) ~TxH~

  8. Mindie

    We lined out raised beds with pizza boxes LOL What a trooper little plant you have there too! Thanks you so much for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. I look forward to seeing what you share this week!

  9. Cyndee

    So ready to plant a garden. This winter has been long enough! Thank you for linking up with Idea Box! Come back and join us next week!

  10. daisy

    It’s right around the corner-hang in there! Can’t wait to see how this works for you!

  11. Anna

    I have 5 small raised beds and I LOVE them. I also have two lengths of fence for my tomatoes, cukes, peas, etc. I planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes the other day…I know it is a risk, but I just couldn’t wait any longer 🙂

  12. Gentle Joy

    I hope your new method makes gardening more pleasant this year and that those runners will be stopped… at least from these areas. 🙂

  13. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Straw is almost impossible to find around here Colleen, but I’ve used the small square bales in the past when I could find them. I’ve also used hay mulch in the past as well and of course any seeds that are viable sprouted & I fought Johnson grass for several months. But supposedly with this deep mulch method it’s too deep for any of the viable seeds to germinate – no light can reach them. Plus I’m hoping the triple-layer feed sacks keep soil contact away as well. BUT if there are viable seeds, at least it’s only cold-weather forage which will not survive prime-time gardening months. ~TxH~

  14. ColleenB.

    I did start some bell pepper seeds a few weeks ago in little pots and they re coming up nicely.
    Oh, dear my friend. I think I would use straw in place of hay. You could have seeds in the hay which will sprout plus it will be more apt to mold easier than straw would.
    Straw is a sure thing to use as mulch around vegetable plants, strawberries, etc. Growing up, my mom always used straw in her garden.

  15. Becky @vintagebeckym

    Hang in there. You are not alone in your struggle. We are all fighting this battle. I am so thankful I have garden windows. I am growing herbs, lettuce and spinach. That is helping the urge to plant outside where I know it will end up freezing and I will have to start over. Thank you for sharing and Have a Fabulous Day!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      OMGosh I’m thiiiiis far from planting up some spinach & carrots Becky. Tomorrow may be the day for that! ~TxH~

  16. Texas Homesteader Post author

    I can’t stand it this time of year FarmGal – I want to pop those seedlings in the ground SO BADLY! But so far I’ve been able to hold back… ~TxH~

  17. farmgal

    Very interesting, we do not plant warm weather crops till may long weekend but cold hardy end of april, first part of may.. I have used hay on different years and had no issues with it


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