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Galveston Monthly

The Spring Vegetable Garden

Apr 04, 2019 07:37AM
If you are you contemplating a spring vegetable garden now is the time to organize, plan, and
prepare your garden. Many varieties of vegetables can be grown on Galveston Island, and many more on the mainland of Galveston County. Some early preparations for the spring gardening season will bring benefits that will last all year. Before planting your garden, prepare your beds by
digging and loosening the soil, and adding organic material. This prep work can save you disappointment and assures a generous harvest.

Organic matter is the key to a healthy garden as it helps improve whatever soil to which it is added. You should replenish your garden at the start of each growing season to maintain its viability.

Organic materials include nitrogen (N): two parts blood meal or three parts fish meal; phosphorus (P): three parts bone meal; and potassium (K): one part kelp meal or six parts greensand. If you use manure, it should be composted, not fresh so as not to burn your
plants and to prevent the spread of pathogens.

Even if there is not enough room in your yard for a conventional garden, you too can enjoy the rewards of vegetable gardening. Plant vegetables among the flowers and ornamentals in your flowerbeds; many vegetables have attractive blooms and their foliage
will complement the already existing vegetation in the beds.

A second option is the construction of a “square-foot” garden. In this garden, a raised bed is divided into squares. Each square is planted with your choice of vegetable, herb, flowers, or ornamentals.

Tall plants placed in the rear section of the garden and shorter plants in the front squares are recommended. Because the garden is raised and divided into sections, maintenance and
harvesting is easier for all gardeners, including children and older adults.

Container gardening is a third option for those with limited space. Many types of containers can be used in this approach, from tomato plants in five gallon buckets to nursery pots and
old whiskey barrels.

For container gardening it is important to use commercial soils that are clean and free of diseases. Use water-soluble fertilizers frequently to ensure healthy growth - and remember
that container gardens require more frequent watering. Also remember to add sufficient holes to the bottom of the container to allow good drainage.

Consider Herbs
Herbs are a natural addition to a home garden and can be easily grown along with the vegetables in any of the above options for your garden. Herbs need good drainage so you may
want to consider containers or even hanging baskets as an alternative.

Use a slow release fertilizer when planting and supplement with soluble fertilizers to keep them healthy and thriving; herbs prefer full sun but may tolerate some shade. Herbs are nearly
pest-free and quite easy to grow.

 The ones you’ll really use - which are recommended by William D. Adams and Thomas LeRoy in their publication “Common Sense Vegetable Gardening For The South” - include

basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.

An interesting sub-chapter in their book suggests methods for using fresh herbs (herb butters and herb vinegars), and preserving the fresh herbs from your garden, including drying and freezing in olive oil (chop the herb, and add just enough oil to make a thick paste, freeze in small portions, and use year round).

The Tomato Hornworm
 The tomato hornworm larva is green in color with L-shaped stripes and a black “horn” appendage at its rear. It has an appetite to match its large size (nearly four inches at maturity).
The tomato hornworm can strip a tomato plant of its leaves and new stems rapidly. Although it prefers tomatoes, the hornworm will also make a lunch of eggplant, potatoes and peppers.
The tomato hornworm is the larva stage of an adult sphinx moth. The moth lays its eggs on the underside of tomato leaves in the spring - the eggs take about a week to hatch, and the 
resulting larva will feast on your plants to maturity which takes two to four weeks. At that time, the worms burrow into the soil to pupate.

Shortly thereafter, a new moth will emerge from the soil to lay another series of eggs. Each moth is able to lay up to 2,000 eggs.

Hornworms are easiest to spot in the morning. In small gardens, the best control is removal and disposal although Sevin or malathion products, as well as applications of bacillus
thuringiensis, sold as Dipel or Bio Worm Killer will help control and prevent outbreaks.

Vegetables to Plant Now in Galveston
Beans (snap, pole and bush): March-May
Eggplant transplants: April-May
Okra: April-July
Pepper transplants: March-May
Tomato transplants: March-April

Elements of Fertilizing NPK - Nitrogen…Phosphorus…Potassium
Plants live with their heads above ground where they can absorb some of the nutrients they need for growth, i.e. carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Other nutrients are absorbed through
the root system. Those nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

On the packages at your garden centers, you will find such numbers as 20-20-20 or 15-5-10 listed, as well as many other combinations of numbers. These figures represent the NPK
ratio or the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium. Select the one that best suits your plants’ needs