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Janet Laminack: Helpful tips to start vegetable garden offered

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 A&M 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. There are options such as community gardens or container gardening.

The next thing plants need is soil. Soil is the gardener’s fancy name for 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 would require 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, probably 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.

One of the biggest pitfalls vegetable gardeners face in Texas is timing. By the time spring fever really hits and everyone is in the mood to garden, it’s getting a little late for us. But right now, you still have time.

To help you get started with this worthwhile hobby, these websites have planting guides that help you determine when to plant specific vegetables: and

Or you can contact us directly with your gardening questions by calling the Master Gardener help desk at 940-349-2892
or e-mail

Also, join us for our free library series on Wednesday evenings beginning Feb. 27 at Flower Mound Public Library, 3030 Broadmoor Lane. Topics are “Growing and Cooking with Herbs,” “Vegetable Gardening for Fun and Food,” “Gardening with Children: Tots to Teens!” and “Rose Gardening in Denton County.”


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