11 September 2013

This Week in the Garden: A New Start (Seed Planting and Rain Water Collection)

We've been in our new home for a couple of days now, and we're hearing enough about "winter" gardening in south Texas that we got out our box of seeds to give it a try.  Notice the word "winter" is slipped in there between some quotation marks.

Because the first woman I talked with about gardening in this "valley" (another northerner and I discussed this:  shouldn't there be mountains somewhere for a place to be called a valley?) said she grows tomatoes all "winter".  And IF it looks like there MIGHT be a frost, she covers them until morning.

It hardly seems like there could be a winter if there are no frosts.  Frosts are things that come during autumn--you know, that time of year when there are leaves changing color and fresh local apples everywhere and maybe a pumpkin patch or two thrown in, when cooler weather means you wear a sweater and sip hot herbal tea.  Then snow comes in winter and the frosts at night just make really cool crystals on top of the snow.

But here?

The weather cooling down means we have highs in the lower nineties instead of the upper ones.  Which is perfect weather for starting seeds.

We toured a garden the other day, and I was in delighted shock the whole time for a number of reasons, one of which was that when I glanced at a pepper plant, I noticed it had woody branches.  Turns out, they grow as shrubs here, and as long as they are doing well you don't have to re-plant every year.

And my winter-informed inner garden clock says, How could that even be possible?!

So we decided to test it out for ourselves, this year-round gardening stuff.  And we decided, since the rains lately have been hard ones and we didn't want any seeds washing away, that we would start them much the same way we did all those long months ago back in Virginia.

With two edits:  deeper cardboard "pots", and seed starting mix instead of garden compost.

Tonight's beginners found their homes in a lightbulb holder and cut up paper towel tube.  {We haven't used enough toilet paper in this house yet to have a stock pile of those.}

We planted four kinds of tomatoes and Tomatillos Verdes.

There's also this wonderful part of the roof where rain water comes streaming off, so we bought a garbage can with a lid (to seal it when it's not raining so there won't be bugs and debris in it) to collect the water to use on the garden when it doesn't rain as much).

Three cheers for our fourth gardening state so far this year!  (We're not aiming for a fifth.)


  1. I love this! I wish I was there to grow pepper bushes! And I like your lightbulb tray pots. I always thought those lightbulb holder thingys should be useful for something- they're such cool shapes!

  2. Good to start things inside, because some seeds won't sprout at higher temperatures. I just read that lettuce won't sprout over 70 degrees. I haven't tested that, but it might explain why my lettuce seeds haven't sprouted sometimes. Peppers and tomatoes aren't that tender though. Likely you could grow collards quite well.


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