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Building Community: Winter Gardening!

Claire Grasso, Jennifer Rose Davis, and Deja Morgan lent their expertise to a fun and informative talk on finding creativity and community in your garden! Check out the full interview on our YouTube channel!

The Fall is my favorite gardening season in Central Texas, and it is the perfect time to start experimenting as a beginner! Some of my favorite things to eat are all about to have their moment. Plump peas, tender green beans, radishes, carrots, parsnips, frilly lettuces, and bold brassicas – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages, and collard greens – I’m practically a little Peter Rabbit. Nom nom nom.

The Basics

The three fundamental components to success are

1. Soil – aim for 50% compost, 50% top soil. Invest here and you will make things so much easier on yourself. You want the soil to retain moisture but not become waterlogged.

2. Sunlight – most plants need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunshine per day and days are shorter in the Fall/Winter. Take some time to really watch your yard for a couple weeks. Take notes about where and when you get shade.

3. Water – Where is the water source you plan on using to water your plants? How will you get it from point A to point B. I can’t recommend some simple, cheap soaker hoses highly enough. You will use your time and water so much more efficiently if you plan out a simple watering system.

Tips and Tricks

To save money, check out your local Buy Nothing Groups for materials. Recycle cardboard boxes to lay down as weed barrier or even serve as planters! Drowning in paper HEB bags? Shred them for mulch or use them as brown material in your compost! Share or trade extra seeds, transplants, or soil amongst your neighbors. Gardening is a great way to build community.

Maximize space and production while minimizing weeding by companion planting. This means densely planting things that grow well together. For instance: Root vegetables love phosphorus. I always plant mine with a scoop or two of bone meal worked into the soil. Leafy greens love nitrogen. I use Alaska fish fertilizer. Legumes like peas and beans also help put nitrogen back into the soil. These things can all grow well next to each other because they take different things from the soil. I plant marigolds, calendula, and nasturtiums both for their beauty and because they repel pests and attract good bugs.

Herbs provide some of the best bang for your buck in so many ways. They are easy to grow, don’t require much space, and they repel common pests. Parsley, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme, sage, cilantro, chives, and tarragon all do well in this milder season.

Finally, just try it! Embrace the trial and error. Some of my favorite little moments in my garden are things that I was told I couldn’t do or shouldn’t plant at that time. Every yard is it’s own little eco-system. While you cultivate your veggies, try to cultivate an appreciation for the critters and crawlies. Keep a little journal of what, where, when you plant and how much you harvest. You’ll be amazed at your own progress. Happy Gardening!

Recommended resources:

-Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

-Texas A&M Agrilife Extension https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/gardening/texas-home-vegetable-gardening-guide/

-https://travis-tx.tamu.edu/files/2020/06/Vegetable-Planting-Calendar-Travis-2015.pdf

-Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer


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