• April 24, 2014

Prospective gardeners learn what it takes to make plants grow

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Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 4:30 am

More than 20 people attended a class Monday on fall vegetable gardening presented by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department and the Bell County Master Gardeners.

“Temperatures are usually more moderate, the insects are more scarce, and rain comes more frequently in the fall, making this an ideal time to garden,” said Master Gardener and Belton resident Karen Colwick. “What you do now is going to affect what you do in the spring time.”

Topics in Colwick’s lecture included choosing a garden site, crop selection, soil preparation, fertilization, planting, watering, garden production planning, weed control and mulching.

Colwick brought a handful of ripe Juliette tomatoes from her own garden to share with learners and whet their appetites for gardening.

“These were blooming through the 104 degree temps this summer,” she said. “Last year I was picking them until Dec. 9.”

If gardeners have been unsuccessful in the past, they may want to consider sending a soil sample to the Master Gardeners for analysis.

“Central Texas soil often lacks nitrogen, has too much phosphorus, but is typically balanced in potassium content,” Colwick said. “Starting a compost heap provides you with free fertilizer, and helps the landfills.”

She advised using coffee grounds, eggshells and plant material, but avoid meat scraps, grease, bones and fish.

“It draws critters, and it doesn’t usually smell too good,” Colwick said. “These materials also keep compost from heating up like it should.”

Mario Murray of Killeen pondered a fall garden’s maintenance time.

“In the morning, is there time to get up before work and do it?” Murray asked. He was pleased with the information he gathered during the class.

“I love this chart because it tells you when they come, when you can [harvest], and where the [plants] come from,” he said. “I didn’t know spinach came from Iran. That’s interesting.”

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