February, the New Texas Spring
By Courtney Terry / Courtney’s Thumb
A couple weekends ago I decided that since the weather was cooperating and warm, I would break ground on my garden for 2012. Rumor is that exercise is great for stress and the body in general, so I figured some manual labor would improve my humor and tighten some seldom used muscles. Little did I know how sore I would be the next day…
Counting my flowerbeds, I have a total of 10 raised beds. Most of my beds have been selfishly left unattended by winter and laziness, so when I felt the warm sun out a few days prior, I knew I would need to get my garden in order.
First things first, order seeds. Most people wait until the ground is warmer and the days longer to plant seedlings and young plants. I like to start at the very beginning…seeds. There is something magical about watching the seeds poke through the dirt and begin their lives in front of you. The first harvest is so very rewarding; the boastful “I grew it myself (with a generous pat on the back)!” I love those moments!
Now is the time to plant bulbs, tubers, and corms. Some of my favorites are daffodils, gladiolus, lilies, tulips, amaryllis and hyacinths. I actually have all of these planted somewhere in my several beds. This is my first year in many to try freesias again. In my first attempt the plants never broke through the ground. I am blaming shoddy stock and not my thumb’s ability!
I started my labors in a bed left untouched for a couple of years, good idea. The drought and abandonment of the bed made it a treacherous task. The ground was as hard as cement, at one point I thought I hit a rock, it was just dirt so compacted that it bent my shovel. I think my shovel gave out around the same second my body did. After I had removed all the loose roots and weeds I could find, I had to take off my shoes and walk in the soft cool dirt. It made me feel like a kid again. Then I carefully shoveled in horse manure and fertilizer granules mixed in some love and air that fluffed the compacted soil. I have not decided exactly what to plant there yet, so I covered it with weed cloth and secured it with rocks and wire stakes until the executive order comes to me.
I have neglected my basic weeding around the beds and on my rock walkways the clover has gone rampant. It is amazing to me how a little weeding can make the area clean and neat. I generally felt less cluttered after getting these beds done. In my smaller bed by the house I have my hyacinths and tulips planted, I rarely dig these after they flower, I usually wait until spring and they are about to sprout out that way I can properly place them and see what has made it through the winter. My tulips, I should dig after they flower, there are less and less of the originals left because I have not. Hyacinths seem to be doing well, they have been there for roughly 8 years and never fail to flower and be beautiful. In my other flower beds I have gladiolus placed next to my fence for support, the tall stalks and heavy flowering can often cause them to bend over and you can’t get their full beauty. I’m all about full beauty. In front of them I have tried freesias again. I’ll update on how that works out, or better yet how it doesn’t. I only had to kill one small brown snake, which for me was a pleasant surprise. Last year about six came out of a burrow, scared me, and died by wasp spray. Evidently the harsh chemical can knock a wasp out of the air midflight and take out six small snakes! I love products that have dual purposes!
Until next time, get those beds ready and plant with no fear!