Vegetables for Central Texas
Growing Vegetables in Central Texas is a real challenge. We have found that vegetables and fruits are much harder to grow than any other type of plant or tree. Diseases and insects are always a challenge. Our soil presents its own problems, and our water, another. Most vegetables require these general rules: Be diligent about soil preparation. You must enrich the soil with organic fertilizers and the addition of up to one-half the volume of your beds in organic matter. Organic matter includes decomposed manure, compost, and decomposed leaves. Do not use peat moss; it causes water to bead up, and it does not add anything to the soil that is needed. Work these amendments into the first foot to two feet of the soil. Remove all weeds. Cover all soil in your beds with mulch--partially decomposed leaves, compost, or shredded wood pieces. Do not work this layer into the soil. The only exception to this rule is when you are planting seeds. You will need to leave the ground bare around the seedlings until they have produced their second or third set of true leaves, usually when they are about 6 inches tall. Then gently pull the mulch up around them so that it covers the soil around them but does not touch their stems. Water your plants when the soil becomes dry. Underwatering is one of the main causes of death for your plants. The ground should be moist, but never soggy. Overwatering is also a leading cause of death. If you can collect rainwater and use it to water, so much the better. Water deeply so that the roots will go deep, and water at ground level to keep water of the leaves. When you water the leaves, you also water the mildew and other diseases growing on your leaves. Do not walk on the ground in your beds. This is very, very important. You need to have light, fluffy soil that is in layers. The bottom layer is the rich, fluffy soil that you have amended when you made the bed. This layer should not have to be dug up again, if you don't compact it with your feet. The top layer is the mulch that you place on top of the soil around your plants. This should be maintained at at least 3 inches and up to 6 inches. Fertilize regularly with a good organic fertilizer. Read the instructions and follow the recommended amounts and application times. Make sure that your plants receive full sun for 8 hours of the day. A little afternoon shade is good, if the 8 hour requirement is still met. Know what time of the year to plant. Some vegetables are for the cool times of the year and some are for the warm. Planting at the wrong time will almost ensure failure.