I am borderline maniacal about starting my spring garden as early as possible. I’m typically standing at my backdoor, tomato seedlings in hand, waiting on that magical last frost date of mid-February.
And because I’m a native Texan, I know that what “last frost date” really means is that we’ll get two near-hard freezes over the next 4 weeks – one guaranteed during spring break because Mother Nature is a punk – and then stuff like this happens.
Yet I have never let that stop me from planting “too early.” My timehop over the last two weeks has been sad-funny: pictures of frost-bitten baby peaches, wilted tomato plants, and freeze-damaged citrus leaves.
This year, however, I’ve just been too caught up with family stuff to get things in the ground. Which is why 10 days ago, my spring “garden” still looked like this. (I’ll spare you the gratuitous shot of foot-tall weeds in the neglected beds.)
(I’ll also spare you the f-bomb laden retelling of finding out that one of the beds was basically a 32 square-foot fire ant bed. But there were fire ants. And there were many, many f-bombs.)
But now the beds are neat and half-filled and fire ant-free, the citrus trees are beaming with new life, and the white peach tree that supplies my timehop with an endless supply of disappointment? It is going strong.
[knocks on wood] [crosses fingers] [throws salt at a black cat standing on a broken mirror under a ladder] [shakes booty] If that doesn’t get me white peaches this year, nothing will!
In the upcoming weeks, I’ll show you how we built the garden boxes last spring, the layout of our backyard (it might sound big from the citrus tree list, but it’s just your standard size suburban plot), composting, staking tomatoes, and anything else I can think of that looks helpful.
I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re looking for a good gardening reference or just a starting point to get you moving in the right direction, I highly recommend flipping through The Square Food Garden Method.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s in the ground right now:
Bed #1 (8×4)
2 cucumber (I’m gonna hate myself for this)
1 butternut squash
32 Texas 1015 onions
1 Super Sweet 100 Tomato
1 Big Beef Tomato
1 Tami G Tomato
1 BHN 602 Tomato
1 Mariglobe Tomato
Space for kale and spinach seedlings (gonna hate myself for these, too)
Bed #2 (8×4)
24 green beans
1 Juliet tomato (these are my favorite non-San Marzano tomatoes in the whole wide world)
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 “Extra crazy hot” (we’ll see) Jalapeno
1 Better Bush Tomato
Sage (last year’s plant, hacked waaaay back)
Space for 4 San Marzano and 4 Beefsteak tomatoes
~5 empty squares
I started San Marzano and Beefsteak tomato seedlings a few weeks back but they’ll go into the ground with my summer plantings, mid- to late May.
Citrus & Fruit
Rio Star Grapefruit – new this year, replaces the rockstar tree that my former lawn guys killed
Lime – new this year, replaces the one my former lawn guys killed (we now no longer have lawn guys)
Blood orange – planted 2 years ago
Orange – planted last year
Key Lime – planted a few years back but it is on life support.
Pomegranate – Maybe this is the year we get an actual pomegranate!
Dwarf Pink Lemon – ~6 years old, back from the brink of death
Celeste Fig – Planted 3 years ago, total rockstar
Tangerine – new, still in 3-gallon pot. Mistakenly grabbed it instead of a lemon. Oops.
Pot o’ Basil
Pot o’ Rainbow Carrots (Landry loves growing carrots)
Pot o’ Milkweed for the Monarchs
Pot o’ Mint because that $#%& never dies
Your citrus is beautiful! Do you have an aphid problem? They are covering my lemons and Neem oil doesn’t seem to phase them. Also curious what you did about fire ants where you are planting veggies.
Good luck, fellow gardener!
Not aphids – white flies are my nemesis. They are *bad* here. My citrus started the spring on a 7-day Neem oil plan. For fireants, I used Spinosad in and immediately around the garden boxes, Spectracide (not veggie garden-rated) for the rest of the backyard. Seems to have worked like a charm!
Oh, sigh. This post has made me even more anxious to garden! I started my tomato seedlings a while back too, I’m just waiting for our last frost. Which should be soon. Hopefully. Have a great weekend Shawnda!
Aww… i won’t be planting anything for another month in Ohio. Although I brought my lemon tree inside and might be getting some fruit this year. So fingers crossed! Some day I’ll have a mini orchard , all of your trees sound amazing!
I need to get that Square Foot Gardening book, because I think my beds are 8×4-feet too, and there’s no way I can fit all that in them. I think our high temperatures here in southern NM are usually about the same as yours, but due to the lack of moisture, our lows are lower, so our frost-free date isn’t until April. I’ve got a bunch of spring stuff going though, lettuce and spinach and kale and scallions and peas and favas. I’m already obsessing over them, especially the peas.
How did you get rid of the fire ants? My one sfg is infested with them and I’m not sure how to get rid of them.
Get some Spinosad and make a mound drench for inside the garden. I put Amdro throughout the backyard/around the exterior of the beds to keep them from relocating.