Sunday, July 29, 2012

Planning a Garden

Yesterday I took a class on "planning your fall vegetable garden" that was offered by Urban Harvest.  Urban Harvest is a local non-profit that supports healthy and sustainable living through a strategy with three parts: gardening education, community gardens, and farmers' markets. 

At my new house, I have two spots for raised beds -- I just need to fix the structure surrounding the beds. My landlord says he will buy me dirt once I do that. He's  very into gardening AND Urban Harvest (and he's modeling agent - what a renaissance man!), so he says he's got a soil mix that he uses that will work. I know that composting yourself is the best way to get your soil, but I probably won't be able to start composting until fall.

You can see the garden beds in the
background - they need some work!
 I don't know much about gardening in the tropical climate of Houston. I do know that many folks say that you CAN'T grow organic in Houston because of the heat, disease, and pests, so I thought a class would be a great way to learn about what you can do.

Here's what I learned:

  • Lots of people are successfully growing organic veggies in Houston. The instructors had lots of success stories, and lots of info about which varieties of vegetables are most resistant to pests. They also were able to recommend specific vendors and products that they've used successfully. One of the instructors is the author of the BIBLE of Houston veggie gardening, Year Round Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers for the Houston Metro Area.
  • There will be a major learning curve. I'll need to be prepared for some failure. I am not a fan of failure. I avoid it the way that most people avoid their in-laws. However, this will be a new adventure and I can't expect to be great at it right away.
  • Plan. One thing I realized, I need to have a good plan. If I want to be ready to plan in mid-September, that means I'm going to need to repair the beds in the next few weeks, in order to get the dirt, and prepare it for planting - I'll need to fertilize and water for a couple of weeks before I plant. I'm also going to need to graph out where and when I will plant certain veggies. Luckily, I'm a pro with an Excel spreadsheet, so that should work out.
I always like to be reminded: Houston is actually a pretty green city. At least, lots of people are trying.  The class was packed. I love the idea that so many people are interested in more natural sources for their food.  Houston is a city that will constantly surprise  you if you let it.

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