By Samantha Gluck
Your quick start garden guide
As the bright, yet still cool, spring months approach, thoughts of starting an herb or vegetable garden start to whisper in the minds of many. One of the easiest ways to get started now is to sow your seeds in small pots inside, then transplant them outside to a prepared bed, or large terracotta pots, when they reach the right size.
You’ll need to keep your planting zone in mind when you get started. Most of Texas falls somewhere in zones seven through nine, with Dallas in 8a and Houston in 9a. Check out a map by visiting GardeningKnowHow.com and clicking on USDA Planting Zones in the “Gardening Help” drop-down menu. If you’re in a colder zone, you’ll need to nurture your seedlings inside a bit longer than in the southern climes.
Step 1: Buy your seeds
Head out to your nearest garden store and buy seeds for the herbs, vegetables, and flowers you hope to cultivate this spring. Try hardy herbs like rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Tomatoes fare well in warmer Texas weather as do cucumbers and many pepper varieties. Texas bluebonnets, daisies, and Mexican sunflowers are examples of flowers which grow well in the Lone Star state’s spring climate.
Step 2: Gather materials
Buy or upcycle some shallow containers, such as paper pots or even egg carton bottoms. Purchase rich gardening soil from your local garden store and put a heap of it in a large container and moisten it. Divide soil into the tiny peat pots or egg cartons.
Step 3: Ready, set, plant
Now that you have everything ready, check out the planting instructions on the back of the packets. Plant most of your seeds inside about four to six weeks prior to the projected last frost date.
Position your newly planted seeds on or near a windowsill that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Some people place the containers in plastic bags and close tightly to prevent dry soil, while many others prefer to simply give the soil a light mist every other day or so.
Step 4: Harden and transplant
Once your seedlings have four leaves, you must “harden them off” by moving them outdoors for part of the day. Introduce them gradually to full sunlight, dry air, and cool nights. This process will take about 10 days. Afterwards, it’s time to transplant in your prepared bed(s) or large terracotta pots filled with rich, amended soil.
It’s really not too difficult to get your garden growing strong. There’s nothing more satisfying than snipping herbs and harvesting vegetables from your own garden to use in recipes served to family and friends. And you’ll have watched them grow every step of the way!