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Photo courtesy of Texas A&M AgriLife

The Fields of Spring

By Reggie Lepley

 

It has been a mild winter for the most part here in Walker County.  Breaking ice in the livestock trough only happened one time during the past season. That was over a two-day span and the ice was thin the first day.

Since it is warming up nicely, our home gardeners are feeling the urge to get outside and work in the gardens.  The question I would ask is, “Are we past the cold weather?”

Statistically, the answer to that is no. Depending on which chart you review, the last two weeks in March typically end our chances of frost.  Remember we are talking average even then…

FYI: The resources mentioned below can be found here: http://walker.agrilife.org/publications/horticulture/

In the event, you are one of the “go getters” and just can’t wait any longer for those spring vegetables to be in the ground, I recommend you read the frost and freeze protection information provided by our friends from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County.

 

It would be wise to gather up some of the supply/resources mentioned in the article to have on hand for that last unexpected cold snap.

I have a vegetable planting chart posted on our Walker County AgriLife web page.  This chart shows the ideal and marginal planting windows for our commonly planted vegetables.  Each species listed will have a link to the Aggie Horticulture “Easy Gardening” publication or another helpful item explaining how to plant and care for the vegetable.

There are also a couple of vegetable variety recommendation charts posted which you may find useful in selecting your spring and summer plantings.   I have two options posted as some species may be a little limited on recommendations based on the list of choice.

If you have not tested a soil sample from your garden plot, you still have time to get that done before the growing season really gets going.  Come by the AgriLife office and pick up a sample kit, your garden will thank you along with the family members, neighbors, and friends that have an appreciation of home grown vegetables.

Over the past years, I talked to more than a few gardeners who have been frustrated with their vegetable results.  I tend to think that a good bit of the lack of vegetative response is directly attributed to soil pH.  Almost every conversation included the gardener telling me what and how they fertilized.  The amendment of soil pH is rarely ever claimed when I am hearing of the failure.  It is a question which I ask along with, “Have you had a soil test analyzed?”

Until soil pH buffering levels are met, plants have trouble taking up nutrients. You can fertilize all you want and still have very limited growth response.  Just to keep it interesting assuming the pH is good, you can over fertilize just as easily.  When this happens, plants will resist entering the reproductive phase which is what you ultimately want to produce your home-grown groceries.  Yes, I also hear tales or see photos of monster plants that never produce much of anything.

Have a soil test analyzed so we can talk about something else. We have the testing forms and sample bags available at the AgriLife office. Come by and pick some up!

Reggie Lepley currently serves as County Extension Agent – Agriculture & Natural Resources for Walker County.

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