Grow Your Own

I wouldn't call myself a seasoned gardener, but I'm no newbie either. My husband and I loved from Chicago about 2 years ago and I've been acclimating myself to Texas gardening ever since. Before anyone starts calling me a Yankee...let me remind you - I am a Texan. I'm even an Aggie! I didn't start gardening until I lived in Chicago, so learning gardening in Texas is a whole new world for me!

If you're looking for a new hobby, want to save some serious money on fresh produce, or you're interested in a new DIY project...I've got all the details you need to start your own vegetable garden. Start from seeds and you can literally set up a garden for less than $10!

Amy's Quick Gardening "How To":

Decide where your garden is going to be. Do you have a place in the back yard where you could till the soil? If not, locate some large containers and start your garden without the hassle of tilling. I have a very handy husband, so he has built me 2 raised plant beds in our back yard.

Ammend your soil. Any good gardener will tell you to spend your money on the soil - not the plants. Don't settle for the soil that is in your backyard...add some nutrients. Manure and compost are generally a great start. I have found that my plants love rabbit manure. I get it in a large 15 GAL bag at my local feed store for $10.99/bag. Mix your manure/compost with your existing soil & you have a great start to some wonderful vegetables! If you're using 'fresh' manure - beware! This can burn your plants so allow it to compost on its on before adding to your soil. Rabbit manure can be added directly to your garden without the fear of burn.

I chose to start my garden from seed. I love the feeling of knowing that I was a part of the complete growing process, from germination to harvest! Seeds are also very inexpensive. Plants will cost $2 - $5/each whereas a packet of seeds are usually less than $1. I buy my seeds from my local feed store where they have jars and jars of fresh seeds. They charge by the scoop and I usually only get 1/2 scoop because my garden isn't that large. I pay no more than about 75¢ per vegetable (this is generally more than 10 plants!)

Because our summers are so hot, start planting now! Technically, you're already a little late to plant 'cool weather' crops but don't let than stop you. Give it a try! I planted tons of onions, potatoes, broccoli, and brussel sprouts this year. They generally take about 60 days from germination to harvest. Remember to water your freshly planted seeds immediately after planting. The soil shouldn't get too dry in that first week - critical time for little seedlings! Germination varies by plant, but you can usually see small shoots within 10 days of planting. Make sure you space your plants so that they have room to grow. Pluck the tiny shoots once they have come up to thin your plants.

For warm season vegetables, I recently planted cucumbers, squash, and okra. I may be a little early for the okra, but we'll see! Cucumbers and squash are 2 of my absolute favorites...and they get very large once they start growing. Squash plants do not vine like cucumber plants, but they do get large. I recommend adding a trellis, if you can, for your cucumbers. Train them to grow up and you can conserve some of your space.

Since our weather has been cool & wet lately, I haven't done any watering. If we have a dry spell, I will water my plants as necessary. In the heat of the summer, its not uncommon to water every other day.

I'll add some pictures as the season progresses. Hoping to inspire some of you to join me in my quest for the perfect garden. Any mistakes are just try again next season. 

Here's to some very cost-efficient, organic vegetables!

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