1. Consult the almanac and your local weather forecasts. Weather in Texas can change quickly, so being prepared to protect your new plantings will be important.
The importance of the farmer’s advice about Easter freezes:
Easter is always the first Sunday after the full moon of the vernal equinox on March 21. Easter is considered a “moveable feast” and the date is determined by the lunisolar calendar which follows the sun’s rotation and thus makes it applicable for farmer’s to use as a planting guide.
2. Always make sure the soil/plants are moist and watered before a freeze. It is best to cover plants that are not frost tolerant. Always remember if you do cover plants for a nightly freeze, make sure to uncover plants during the day if the temperatures rise above freezing to prevent burning and overheating.
3. Make your spring and summer garden planting plans before you plant your spring transplants. Consider how you will rotate crops from previous years and what companion planting will look like before committing to your spring garden design. Most spring plants will take a minimum of 32 days and may not be harvested for up to 65-70 days, which will put your harvest after your need to plant your summer transplants.
4. Plant root vegetable seeds now:
carrots (avg. 75 days)
beets (avg. 60 days)
radishes (avg. 30 days)
potatoes (avg. 85 days)
onions (avg. 100 days)
5. Plant frost-tolerant* greens now:
spinach (avg. 75 days)
kale (avg. 50 days)
Swiss chard (avg. 45 days)
frost tolerant greens are able to withstand mild frost, but young seedlings will damaged. It is best to heavily mulch young plants to avoid damage. Be prepared to remove heavy mulch after all danger of frost is gone, as the mulch provides a home for damaging pests. I don’t plant lettuce! There is no way that I can grow lettuce as cleanly or beautifully as a hydroponic or aquaponic farmer can, so find one near you and support them! Locally we have Mikey’s Garden in Hunt
6. Start summer transplants* indoors now:
this year summer transplants can be planted outdoors in early April, but due to the late date of Easter this year, you may need to be prepared to cover plants in the event of a cold snap.
I prefer to use the transplant pods* (either coconut hull or peat pots) to start indoor transplants. They come in kits that have a plastic lids, which help create a greenhouse effect. The pods will allow the plants to create a compact root system large enough to support the transplants until you move them outdoors.
*These pods are available at The Plant Haus in Kerrville.
7. Fertilizing young seedling and transplants is a necessity. We use fish emulsion and liquid seaweed weekly to promote consistent growth. Foliar spraying or side dressing are both good methods, but foliar spraying should only be done when the plants’ leaves have ample opportunity to dry, otherwise mildew could develop and become a problem.
8. Pest control and disease prevention in spring is a constant necessity. Develop a regime and stick to it regularly.
Why to spray:
to prevent bug infestations
to protect young plants as they grow
to prevent diseases (i.e. downy mildew)
When to spray:
weekly (or more often when necessary)
early morning or late evening (often these sprays will damage plants if sprayed when direct sunlight can burn leaves due to magnification)
What to spray:
pest prevention mixture: (use mixture measurement instructions on container unless otherwise noted below)
Cinnamon (other Thieves oil) - 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to 1 gallon water/mix
Dawn dish soap (1/2 teaspoon to 1 gallon water/mix)
Pyrethrum (a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethrum has been used for centuries as an insecticide and lice remedy in the Middle East (aka Persian powder) and is now one of the most commonly used non-synthetic insecticides. Not to be confused with Pyrethroids, which are synthetic insecticides based on the natural pyrethrum; one common example is permethrin.)
What to spray:
mildew prevention mixture: (start when plants are seedlings and spray weekly to prevent development of downey mildew. Also always spray after a rain.)
9. Plant Catch and Cover Crops. Both of these crops are fast growing varieties that are planted between successive plantings of main crops and are beneficial for several reasons.
Catch Crops - aid in support of biodiversity and soil health and are a component of Integrated Pest Management. Our catch crops are planted to provide pests with a food source that we do not spray. Most pests in the garden have a natural life cycle which is shorter than that of your garden plants and some pests are indicators of health and stages of plant growth and production. Catch crops allow pests to moderately forage on plants that are not sprayed with deterrent sprays, then the pests can be more isolated and mechanically killed through tillage or burning.
Cover Crops - are used for reducing nutrient leaching, increasing biodiversity and maintaining or improving soil structure. Examples: radishes, spinach, legumes, other nitrogen rich greens.
10. Companion Planting in gardening is a ancient technique used for many reasons: pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and increasing crop productivity.