by Texas Homesteader ~
I’ve always heard in our area of NE Texas (planting zone 8) that you don’t dare plant until after Easter because a rogue frost can still swing through & kill your tender plants. Oh my goodness it was so hard for me to wait! So to pacify my need to garden I planted up my Indoor Greenhouse weeks ago. As I watched those tiny seedlings sprout I just got more excited.
Then I sat back & waited (im)patiently for Easter. Then the big day arrived, FINALLY I was able to plant – woo-hoo! Here is my April veggie garden update:
It had been a long winter and as it approached planting day it was dreary, cloudy & rainy for weeks, but even then I was planning from inside. I have a
cheater um, easy way to plan what I’m going to plant and where using a Garden-Planning Spreadsheet I made up years ago.
Using this information I can see what I planted last year for proper rotation, reference companion planting info for veggies I typically plant and see what crops did well & which ones performed poorly in prior years.
Several days before I was ready to plant I brought out the tender seedlings from my indoor greenhouse and started slowly hardening them off to prepare them for their life outside.
I always have such a hard time with this step – seedlings often die immediately after being planted! C’mon, someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong. Do I need to sing to them? Tell them funny stories? Do a little tap dance?
Raised Bed Experiment
In previous years I had my garden planted in raised beds made of a wooden frame around my planting areas. But Bermuda grass always grew beneath the boards and invaded my garden every year. So we ripped up the frames and started planting in rows instead.
But I’m not getting any younger, ya know! So I’m experimenting with REALLY raised beds this year. I placed a galvanized trough in one of the planting rows and put EcoBricks in the bottom for drainage.
Then I laid down branches on top of the ecobricks. We have access to Free Wood Chips so I filled 2/3 of the trough with them. Buying that much soil would have been financially painful, y’all!
Finally I filled the top 3rd with soil, compost and aged manure. I planted it in green beans, square-foot-garden style.
But even though those wood chips are way beneath the planting soil, they may still be stealing nitrogen. My little green bean plants aren’t vigorously growing and are puny & yellow.
But I figured this first year would probably not yield great. I’ll get it to grow as well as I can this year, but I feel next year will be a better growing year for my trough as the soil stabilizes.
Challenging Weather Conditions
The weather hasn’t cooperated at all. It’s been cooler and cloudier than normal so far this spring. At first we got lots of rain, but lately it’s mostly just drizzle and more importantly – the absence of sun and warmth. The garden seedlings I planted in the garden struggled and one by one they succumbed.
So earlier this month I replanted everything – seeds directly into the garden soil. Yes I have to start from scratch, but I have to have a garden. I just have to! I placed sticks next to each seed I planted so I’ll be able to watch for and protect the seedlings as they emerge.
So now I’m still waiting for enough warmth & sunshine to bring those seeds out of hiding. I hope to have a much better garden update for y’all next month. But at least there’s still a few nice things to look at.
I planted Everbearing Strawberries in a galvanized tub and mulched it with straw. At first they didn’t produce much, and the strawberries they did produce were small. But they overwintered just fine and greened up again this spring.
So far this spring they’ve produced very well. I’ve delighted in picking fresh strawberries for us to enjoy. And DANG they’re so sweet! Much sweeter and more flavorful than what you buy in the store.
They’re still producing abundantly and I’m picking a bowl full of them every day. I know they’ll slow production when it heats up, but in the meantime… YUM!
Regular & Elephant Garlic
My garlic is typically planted around October. I’ll mulch them heavily & they’ll do just fine all winter. Then I’ll harvest when about a 3rd of leaves start turning which is in June or so though it varies with the weather. I’ll allow the garlic bulbs to cure for a month or so on the covered back porch. Then I’ll take the largest bulbs and set them back for replanting in October.
Since I planted garlic several weeks ago they’re chugging along just great. Especially nice since we eat lots of garlic, it’s a healthy way to jazz up the taste of food. For the first time (maybe EVER) I’ve completely run out of garlic to cook with. So I’m doubly anxious for my garlic to be ready to harvest!
Egyptian Walking Onions
The onions in my garden are Egyptian Walking Onions and they’re doing great. In the fall I often divide them up, replant them and then mulch them heavily with fallen leaves. Then they just do their own thing. I haven’t bought onion starts in years!
The walking onions send up a flower stalk just like regular onions. But at the end of that bloom stalk tiny bulbules grow.
As they grow larger they weigh down the stalk until it touches the soil. The bulbules root in that spot and BOOM! Walking onions!
These onions are much smaller than regular slicing onions, but they’re more intensely flavored too. I use them in much of my cooking.
I have a Concord grapevine planted along one fence line in my garden. It always grows wonderfully! And the grapevine gives me my first ray of garden hope each year as it leafs out and blooms early in the season. Already tiny clusters of grapes are forming all along this grapevine.
Other than that there’s not too much to show yet – I’ve planted lots of seeds and I’m just waiting for them to grow. I’ve planted heirloom tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, watermelon, pickling cucumbers, luffa, cantaloupe, green beans, carrots, spinach, sage, oregano & thyme. (chants softly: go, Go, GO!!)
So there ya go, a quick tour of my April veggie garden. Well, as much of a tour as I can do this early in the game anyway. I promise next month’s garden update will be flowing with goodness!
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
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Low-Cost Vegetable Gardening
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Using Cheap Biodegradable Weed Block
- 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!
- Easy Deep-Soak Watering
- Planting Potatoes In Galvanized Trough
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Making An Inexpensive Temporary Cold Frame
- Easily Disposing Of Old Confidential Documents