Monday, July 25, 2011

Lasagna Gardening

Mmmm, sounds tasty, doesn't it? Unfortunately, I'm not here to tell you how to successfully grow a lasagna plant. What I am writing about today is almost as good though- really! The result of proper lasagna gardening is supposed to be a weed free, no dig, no till organic garden. Wow!

The basic idea is to make layers. Layer grass clippings, leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, shredded newspaper, cardboard, peat moss, or almost anything else that you would put in a compost bin. One article I read suggested starting with a 'brown' substance (cardboard, peat, shredded newspapers, dead leaves) and to alternate with 'green' layers (grass clippings, garden trimmings, vegetable scraps). The suggested depth ratio between brown and green layers is two to one. Don't stress over this though, as many other websites don't mention it.

You can start preparing the soil any time of the year, but it's often easier to find the brown layer material in the fall. Select the area you want to make your new garden and start layering. You don't even have to weed it or kill the grass first. Once you start adding layers, make sure to wet it all down thoroughly! This is important here in NE Texas, especially during summers like this one. Just add layers all year as the material becomes available. The material will decompose, leaving you with a lovely planting medium when the time comes. The soil should be rich in nutrients and soft and easy to plant in. Earthworms will love it! The cardboard, newspapers and other brown substances will help keep the weeds out.

I can see that one of the things I will be tempted to do is to pick an area that's too big for the material that I have available (or foresee becoming available throughout the year). I don't think this is a problem that can't be overcome, but the results the first year wouldn't be as grand as I imagine they could be. My goal will be to start small and expand.

There is a lot of material on the internet about this and even whole books available on the subject. If I didn't provide a lot of detail, maybe I at least piqued your interest enough to find out more.

Stay cool and keep those gardens happy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I know the summer sun is blazing down and there is no relief to the heat in sight, but now is the time to start thinking about your fall garden!   Fall really will be heading our way in a couple of months, so if you get your seeds in the soil now, your seedlings will be ready to plant right on time. 

Corn seeds can be direct planted now, but I admit that I'm a little leery.  After planting corn this spring, just to see it turn brown and die before I got a chance to harvest a single ear a few weeks ago, I am hesitant to try again when it is still so hot and dry out.   Maybe I'll be brave - I really would love some fresh corn!

The cooler weather seeds can be direct planted in September or as late as early October but peppers, tomatoes, squash, and eggplants can all be transplanted from seedlings in mid August, so get ready and get planting!  Have your seedlings ready and enjoy your garden for months to come. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Homemade Weed Killers

Here's a link to a list of non-chemical methods that you can employ to kill unwanted plants in your garden beds.  I thought it was pretty good information.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Did you know that you can plant asparagus one time and harvest it for fifteen years?  Actually, different websites suggest ten to twenty years.  Now that is my kind of plant!  I may have mentioned in an earlier post that our garden was going to be home to some asparagus this year.  Seeing as how this was a new venture, I chose to dedicate one of our 4' x 8' raised beds to the cause.  I purchased one year old crowns (the recommended method) from a local nursery, looked up planting tips and stuck them in the ground way back in late winter.  It took a little while, but each crown sprouted an average of three shoots.  Yeah!  Continuing my reading on the subject, it became apparent that harvesting should not be done until the third year.  That means patience.  If it means I get to harvest this nutritious vegetable for the next fifteen years or so, I can be patient.  Allowing the spears to continue to grow, you'll notice that they will soon look like a type of fern.   We all know that this year has been very hot and dry so far.  I have watered very little, but the ferns still look good.  One website suggested that the plant prefers conditions a little too dry as opposed to a little too wet, but it was also noted that if they become too hot and kept without water too long, the yield the following year will be smaller and less healthy.  That means that I need to get the hose out and do a better job.   I am keeping my fingers crossed that next year's spears will look even better and that before long my family and I can enjoy the fruits of our labor for many years.

Here are a few of my favorite websites on the subject, but there are many more out there:

I hope this information was helpful to anyone trying to decide what to plant next year.  As always, happy gardening!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Eeep!  Squash bugs on my summer squash!  Gross!  Diatomaceous earth applied around base of plant, squash bugs and nymphs squashed, eggs scraped off (disgusting), and plant prayed over.  We'll have to keep an eye on this guy for a while.

Planting in Summer

I'm sure you've read in a million places that the best time to plant is in spring and fall.  That is pretty much true.  The reality of it though is that summer is often a time when many of us are tempted to indulge in all the pretty flowers and vegetables that we see in the stores.  Quite a few of them are on clearance too, a further temptation.  The good news is that there IS a way to get these last minute finds to live well and prosper.
I for one am no exception to the case.  I've spent the last month and a half redoing an entire garden bed, and my husband has yet to meet a pepper plant that he doesn't feel compelled to bring home.  While I'm no master gardener, I have some experience with this one now.  I believe that the key with summer plantings here in Texoma unsurprisingly is water.
What we need to remember here is that summers in Texoma run hot, real hot.  The temperatures have been up around 100 degrees every day for weeks now.  Most of Texoma is prairie land, so the afternoon sun burns down on our garden beds often with very little tree cover to shade it.  Finally the winds in early summer scour the moisture right out of the first inch or so of the soil in our garden beds.  Trouble is that's exactly where the roots of our newly planted darlings live.  They haven't had the months of spring to dig in and branch out.  The constant drying and scouring out of the first layer of topsoil can be a death sentence.  Even if you're watering every other day, the summer babies can bite it.
Keeping my new plants alive has required frequent watering to keep that topmost layer of soil  moist.  For me this has meant two waterings a day while it's so hot, once in the morning and again in the afternoon.    This is especially true for the many plants we have in pots, but only slightly less true for the things that we've stuck in the ground.  My husband and I work together to ensure that nothing dries out.  This has been the only way that we've been able to keep late plantings from dying off.  Once they've shown that they have established good roots, usually with a flush of new growth, we can ease off a bit.

Caveat One:  Don't bother with plants that aren't made for the summer sun.  Pansies for example will burn up on you out here, regardless of how much you soak them.  Begonias have no business in any of my gardens, where I can't offer them any shade.

Caveat Two:  Take care with all of this not to overwater your established plants.  I have a series of pots near the front door, a couple of which contain very established pentas and sedum.  I noticed that the once happy pots were looking a bit depressed, and realized that I was accidentally overwatering them along with their summer planted buddies.  Avoiding that pot is bringing them back to uprightedness.