By Janet Laminack, Denton County Extension Agent-Horticulture
Most of our vegetables are considered either cool season or warm season which designates the time of year they grow best. Even in North Texas, we can grow food just about all year. I’m not saying you’ll have a substantial or varied diet, but it’ll be homegrown.
When you are a beginner gardener, you don’t know what is easy to grow and what is difficult. Should you use seeds or buy little plants?
Direct seeding into a garden bed requires consistent monitoring and moisture. I’m usually not that great at that kind of consistency and there are only a few veggies that I will seed. Seeds are much cheaper and give you more variety in selection. I’m always impressed by those people who start trays of tomato plants in the winter for planting once it warms up. Not me. I’ll go to the store. And sometimes, more than once if there’s a cold snap. I believe in supporting the horticulture industry, ya see?
Here are some vegetables that even I would direct seed from February 1st to March 1st: beets, radish, turnips, Swiss chard, carrots, sweet corn, lettuce and English peas. I might try parsley, it does reseed itself in my garden, so maybe it’s not too elusive for me. You need a large block of corn in order to get good pollination and corn production, so I wouldn’t recommend growing that if you have limited space.
Plants that I would suggest buying as transplants to plant in the near future would be broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
It is also time to plant potatoes and onions, but we don’t grow them by seed. We grow potatoes from seed potatoes; the eyes of a potato will sprout creating another plant. One seed potato can be cut into pieces (one eye per piece) for planting. This time of year, you will want to put out onion sets, which are tiny onions in order to get those nice large bulb onions this summer. You can grow onion from seed, but it’s too late to do that now.
In order to not have a jillion radishes ready the same week, sow some seeds every week or two. That way you will spread out the harvest a bit. Our leafy crops can continue to grow while you harvest. Plucking off a few leaves at a time rather than uprooting the whole plant specifically on chard, spinach and leaf lettuce.
Head lettuce (like iceberg) is a different story. We have so many excellent leaf lettuce varieties that are ornamental as well as delicious. They come in different colors like bright green, reddish/purple or even polka-dotted! The leaves also vary from frilly to skeletal to just plain roundish.
I am just scratching the surface here, but hopefully you will find some inspiration to try growing your own food. We have so many resources to help you and that’s what we are here for. Check out our webpages: dcmga.com and aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu. Or get personal attention by contacting our Master Gardener Help Desk by phone/text or email. 940-349-2892 or [email protected]. Leave a message and they will call you back!