Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Lessons Learned

Not every plant will survive a string of 100º plus days. Go ahead and cut your losses. It's less painful that way.

Now then, having said that, the #1 lesson we've learned this spring/summer with our garden is that you MUST install a drip irrigation system OR use soaker hoses to water your plants. Watering by hand just doesn't cut it and watering from overhead can create havoc on your plants. They can develop diseases, suffer from burns on the leaves if the water stays on them, and a host of other things.

Lesson #2: Erect your trellis or support system prior to or at the time of planting. Do not think that you have all the time in the world to do that before the plants really need it. It just doesn't work that way. I have tomato plants with branches falling all over the place because my DH wanted to build his own tomato cages. I'm still waiting for them to be built.

Lesson #3: You can't have enough mulch. Mulch is absolutely essential in Texas. Not only does it help retain moisture and cut down on weeds, it helps cool the soil. If the soil gets too hot, the plants' roots will burn up, thus killing the plant. You can use native pine bark mulch, grass clippings from the yard, or hay. Whatever you use, use it generously. Your plants will love you for it.

Lesson #4: Have a plan. Don't do like we did this year and plant willy-nilly. Make sure you give those zucchini plenty of room to sprawl.

Lesson #5: Keep good records. Not only should you keep a list of what you planted and where, you should also know when you planted it so you know when to start looking for fruit to set and then appropriate harvest time. We were very clueless about this and kept no records this year. We had no idea when stuff should be getting ready to set fruit, much less know how long to wait for a good harvest!

Lesson #6: Be prepared for bugs and disease. Plant it and the bugs will come. Aphids, ants, squash vine borers, tomato hornworms, and a host of other problems. Know if you want to be all organic or if you want to use chemicals and have items on hand to combat the beasts.

Lesson #7: Celebrate the little things, like peppers setting fruit in the hot July temps and tomatoes setting fruit when it's warmer than 92º during the day.

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