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This manual describes how to start and maintain a small, organic, summer vegetable garden in the North
Texas area. It is for beginners who want to start a vegetable garden, but don't know where to begin. We
give step-by-step directions for the gardening process—from choosing the best location to knowing when
to harvest. For a complete list of topics covered, please see the table of contents.
Although we give directions for planting tomatoes, squash, and pole beans, we recommend you start small.
Plant only one or two of your favorite vegetables and then decide whether or not to expand once you've had
success with those. If the types of vegetables we've provided aren't among your favorites, call your local
Agricultural Extension Agency (they're listed in the government pages in the phone book) or ask at a local
nursery for planting instructions for vegetables that grow well in your area
Selecting the Site
Several factors will determine the best spot for your garden. To grow, most vegetables need "full sun,"
which means at least six to eight hours of unobstructed sunlight that spans morning through mid-afternoon.
This is especially true of fruiting vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, and squash. To grow to maturity,
vegetables need water, good soil and protection from animals. The following are questions you should ask
yourself when choosing a spot for your garden.
Is there a spot in my yard in full sun?
1. Spend some time thinking about where the sun rises and sets.
2. Allow for trees and shrubs that may shade the ground later in the summer.
3. Place the garden plot where sunlight is available from early morning to late afternoon.
Is the spot I've chosen level?
1. Choose a spot that is fairly level to prevent soil erosion.
2. If your best spot is steep, refer to another garden manual for instructions on
building simple planting terraces.
Will my plants get enough water?
New seedlings need constant moisture to sprout into healthy plants.
1. Make sure you have a water hose that will reach your garden.
Are there local animals that may disturb my garden?
Animals such as deer, stray dogs, birds, and gophers are sometimes as interested in eating
your vegetables as you are.
1. Talk to neighbors or local Master Gardeners to learn what animals could be problems
and how to best control them.
2. If deer or stray dogs are active in your area, build a fence around your garden.
3. If birds are a problem, hang mosquito netting over your garden.
4. If gophers are a problem, remove the soil from your garden bed when preparing the
soil. Line the bottom of the bed with chicken wire. Replace the soil. Proceed as normal.
Basic Gardening Tools
Seed Spacer (optional)
-or your favorite vegetable
Basic Composting Tools
hose with an on-off sprayer.
compost thermometer (optional)
The clay soil of the DFW-Denton metroplex needs help to support healthy vegetable plants. Composting,
the method of turning organic materials into a soil-building substance, is an ecologically sound way to
provide this help. Many professional gardeners consider compost to be the cornerstone of a good garden.
Perhaps best defined as a pile of organic materials deliberately assembled for fast decomposition, compost
completes a natural cycle that returns nutrients and organic matter to the garden. It improves aeration and
drainage in clay soils and increases the number of microorganisms in the soil. The following sections
describe what tools you need to make compost, what you should and should not put into a compost pile,
and how to make and maintain a compost pile.
Useful Compost-making Tools
A pitchfork for turning piles.
A sharp spade for chopping materials.
A hose with an on-off sprayer.
A bin for the pile or for stockpiling materials.
A large tarp.
A compost thermometer (optional).
Howard Garrett, a local gardening expert, suggests that the pile contain "80 percent vegetative matter and
20 percent animal waste." Ann Lindsey, Public Education Coordinator at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and
Garden Project, gives this formula: Greens + Browns + Moisture + Air. Green materials are high in
nitrogen, while brown materials are high in carbon.
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Agriculture, Sustainability, Organic gardening, Natural environment, Composting, Organic farming, Permaculture, Sanitation, Compost, Gardening, Raised-bed gardening, Garden
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