Ahh… February. Possibly my least favorite of all of the months. It’s cold and miserable and I’m still not convinced that I don’t have a terrible curse that threatens to ruin every Valentine’s Day for me. (Actually, I say that partly in jest, this year was lovely, save for a respiratory infection that left me on the couch most of the day and in bed by 8:15.) This year, we were hit with a good solid week of bitter cold, ice, snow. All of those things that most Texans take pride in avoiding. Some say it was Jerry Jones’ karma. Thanks, Jerry.
The one really good thing about February each year is that you start to see glimpses of Spring. Baseball players report to spring training, generally temps occasionally rise to the 60s and 70s, nurseries begin stocking compost and seeds… these are all good things.
Last year, I made my first real step into Texas Gardening. I planted three beds. One was greens, one was herbs and the last was vegetables. I learned a lot and am ready to step up my game a bit this year. Yesterday, I re-tilled the green bed and planted mesclun mix and rocket (my new obsession). I also added a couple of rows of snow peas. This lead to nearly obsessive thinking about what I wanted to plant next month as our last freeze date approaches.
Last year, I enjoyed my gardens but there were a couple of things I didn’t like
1) I don’t USE all of the herbs in my herb garden. Basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano… yes… but lemon balm is just … perfumy to me. And mint is so invasive. I found many of the herbs were just there to look good and didn’t get used. That doesn’t work for me.
2) No one needs THAT much okra at one time. I did the traditional row method of gardening. There was far too much in far too short a time. I froze much of it but that really didn’t work for me either. The joy of snipping off fresh vegetables to cook that evening was lost.
3) Rosemary hates my soil. I love Rosemary and I live in TEXAS. It should be prolific. It should love my climate. And yet, I can’t grow it. Neither can my neighbors. This leads me to believe it’s our soil… Not acceptable. I need Rosemary.
4) Weeds love my soil. And they exhaust me. I will get a handle on the weeds this year if it kills me.
Now that my lettuce/snow pea garden is in the ground (and I did just replant that as it was SO successful last year), I’m moving on. I’m planning to do two new things
* a pizza garden
* square foot gardening beds
Square foot gardening was developed in the 70s and has recently caught on. It just makes sense to me. A series of small, raised beds where different crops are planted in single square feet. Crops are then rotated in and out throughout the year.
I plan to spend the next month cleaning up the space, building the boxes and preparing the soil. No more rows, no more barrels of okra and many fewer weeds. This is what I’m hoping for. I don’t want to grow a garden just for the sake of growing…. I want to use it. I want to benefit from it. I want it to give back in a useful way.
Over the next month, I’ll keep you posted. Homegrown food is the best grown food.