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Janet Laminack: Tips offered to make garden grow

Have you ever thought about having a garden and growing your own vegetables? If you haven’t gardened before, it might seem like an impossible idea.

However, Texas AgriLife Extension and the Denton County Master Gardeners are here to help!

First things first: In order to grow edibles, your plants need full sun, which means you need at least eight hours of direct sunlight. Most fruits, vegetables and herbs must have this much sun. If you have a shady yard or don’t even have a yard, there are other options available — so don’t give up yet, try a community garden or container gardening.

The next thing plants need is soil. Soil is what gardeners call dirt. The ideal garden soil is deep, well-drained and fertile.

In Denton, our soil tends to be compacted clay. The best way to deal with it is to build a raised bed.

It doesn’t have to be a very deep bed, but adding lumber, bricks or concrete tiles a foot high can greatly improve your garden.

A raised bed requires extra soil to be brought in, and compost should be added as well.

If you decide to garden in the soil you have in your backyard, adding compost or organic matter (such as leaves or chipped wood mulch) will help it drain better and improve the quality of the soil.

Make sure you kill or remove any grass before you put in a garden.

Our common lawn grass, Bermuda, is very aggressive and has discouraged many would-be gardeners.

So kill it before you begin and stay vigilant to keep it out of your garden.

The last essential ingredient for a garden is water.

Vegetables will need regular watering, definitely every few days, possibly daily. Make sure you put your garden in a location that has a faucet and hose so that you can easily water it, or better yet, use drip irrigation or a soaker hose.

Timing of a vegetable garden is not an exact science, since it is not possible to know what our weather has in store for us.

However, there should still be time to get your warm-season garden in for some homegrown produce. Vegetables are categorized as cool- or warm-season, and knowing the difference is key.

Crops that can be planted now and will do well in a small home garden are snap beans, eggplant and peppers. Other warm-season veggies that need a little more room include corn, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons.

An easy way to begin growing edibles is to add a few herbs to existing flower beds. My favorites are rosemary and basil.

For more details on gardening, visit www.dcmga.com  and http://aggiehorticulture.tamu.edu . Or contact the Master Gardener help desk with your questions at 940.349.2892 or master.gardener@dentoncounty.com .

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883. Her e-mail address is jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu .