Los Fresnos News

Now is the time to start planting those summer veggies

With summer quickly approaching, this is the time to start planting vegetables suited for the Valley’s very warm climate such as tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. Photos: Ann Johnston / LFN

By ANN JOHNSTON
LFN

One of the food groups that was initially difficult to find during this strange pandemic was fresh produce. Vegetable gardeners were already the largest gardening group in the world, but now a new crop of gardeners has been added.

Fortunately, in our Valley home, we can grow vegetables year round. Many vegetables are produced down here as winter crops for truck farming.
Without advocating a lot of time, expense and effort, one can grow various veggies in containers to fill these gaps in your diet and have some pride in accomplishment.

Hint: A beginning garden shouldn’t be big. Start small with a 3×3 foot garden built from stacked cinder blocks or several good-sized pots, that way you can discover how much time and work it takes to water, weed and watch for bugs. That size garden might be all you can handle.
Your garden MUST have at least six hours of sun, so choose your location carefully.

Next, choose only a few young starter plants of your favorite vegetables. Start this all with GOOD SOIL. That is very important.

Even a small garden still benefits from a tiny amount of compost like crushed egg shells, banana peels or used coffee grounds. Tuck this mini-compost just under the soil around the plants. Tomato plants, in particular, react to this.

Big Hint: Barbara Storz from Texas AgriLife Extension Service has an excellent chart on when to plant vegetables. Print it out and attach it inside the cabinet where you store your gardening items. She uses dates for starting seeds, so using starter plants (or “starts”) enables you to begin gardening at least a month later and harvest earlier. Search for “Lower Rio Grande Valley Texas Agricultural Extension Agency” and look for her chart.

Suggestions: Our cool spring weather is almost gone, so concentrate on warm-weather vegetables.

Buy “starts” or small plants at a garden center instead of planting seeds. Tomatoes, squash, herbs, cucumbers, watermelons, chard, pepper plants and eggplants are good spring/summer choices.

Save your lettuces, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, onions and cabbage for fall and winter. We get too warm down here for these plants by April, May and summer. Have fun!

Step through the Garden Gate for more gardening hints, suggestions and things to look for next week.

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