Monday, June 08, 2009

Summer Gardening in Texas

Lucky for us Central Texans, we can begin a garden just about anytime of year we choose. After recently moving into a new house and acquiring a huge yard, I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty and do some gardening. What to plant, when to plant, and where to plant were all mysteries to this novice. But, with the aid of the resources here at Austin Public Library and an Internet connection, I’m off to a great start.

In anticipation of our move, I first started checking out gardening books from the library that were geared toward beginners. After reading these, I was armed with a good working knowledge of gardening practices and was finally able to pinpoint my first step: choosing native plants that would thrive in my garden with minimal effort. All of the books I read advised beginners to start with the easy stuff first before tackling all of those lovely non-native plants you might want to attempt once you have honed your gardening skills.

I read up on plants that are ideally suited for our location in the Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity published by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association and then began scouring the Internet. To my delight, I found a wealth of Austin-specific gardening websites where I could find everything from planting schedules for Travis County to listings of free local classes. One of my initial fears that there would be nothing to plant in summer was completely unfounded and I am gearing up for a busy summer planting season where I intend to get a number of vegetables and herbs going as well as a mini-forest of tall, huge sunflowers. To get your garden started, check out what the library and these immensely useful websites have to offer.

Soil Sampling/Testing

How to Collect a Soil Sample
The soil is what it’s all about. Having your soil tested and making the proper amendments is crucial. Before you spend anything on seeds or plants, pay the small fee to have your soil tested, study the results, and make any needed adjustments.

Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory – Texas A&M
Send your soil to the A&M lab for testing.

Soils & Composting
More info about types of Austin soil, soil sampling and testing, and composting.

Gardening Information for Austin and Travis County

Austin Organic Gardeners
Go to one of the monthly meetings to meet like-minded gardeners and check out the info they provide including a planting calendar, organic techniques, and links to useful gardening sites.

Central Texas Horticulture
This is a great website for information on gardening in Central Texas. I particularly appreciated the vegetable planting and vegetable varieties for Travis County lists.

City of Austin Grow Green
Landscaping information specific to Austin designed with water quality protection in mind.

Travis County Master Gardeners Association
Check out their educational seminars and demonstration garden.

Local Nurseries

Great Outdoors
It’s always a great idea to visit local nurseries and ask loads of questions. This is a fantastic nursery that every gardener and gardener wannabe should check out.

Natural Gardener
“Austin’s organic gardening headquarters” – this is a great nursery for soil and soil solutions. This website also includes useful gardening info.


Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac by Doug Welsh

Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity published by Travis County Master Gardener Association
This is an excellent guide to gardening in Travis County including lists of native plants, planting times, and tons of other local info.

Gardening 101 by Martha Stewart Living
Love her or hate her, Martha and her team compile amazing, information packed guides such as this one. An excellent introduction to gardening.

Month-by-Month Gardening in Texas by Dan Gill

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail
This was the first gardening book I read and it made gardening seem accessible to anyone. It is an enthusiastic, fresh introduction to the world of gardening. Check out her blog where you can also share your own gardening stories and seek out assistance via the forums:

1 comment:

Will Howard said...

Good summary statement on local matters to your citizenry. Will