Aspects of gardening

Joyce Friels Local Gardening

What is a natural gardener? - someone who has a ‘green thumb’ and can grow anything – someone who likes to grow vegetables – someone who enjoys seeing beautiful flowering plants – one who grows plants organically? It can be any or all of these. To be a successful gardener, one must learn all aspects of gardening. The wind, the sunshine, rainfall, the soil and insects are all main ingredients in growing a healthy and bountiful garden.

Our area of Central Texas is in USDA plant hardiness Zone 8, as are Georgia and South Carolina. However, there is a significant difference in the terrain and the amount of rainfall our area receives yearly compared to those two southeastern states. 

For instance, I have seen large camellias and azaleas growing in Georgia. These flowering shrubs do not do well in our area. The different zones in your yard will dictate what plants will grow best. It is important when selecting plants to know the growing habits and water requirements. All the beautiful blooms you see in our garden centers aren’t guaranteed to survive in our specific conditions.

There are microclimates in your yard. A microclimate is an area of your yard that is slightly cooler or hotter than other areas of the yard. The location of the house, trees, shrubs, driveway and sidewalk contribute in making up the microclimates. The structures affect how the shade, sunshine and wind will be going across the yard. All factor in to how well plants will do in the microclimates in your yard.

Another major concern when you garden is how to keep all those bugs off the plants. You are defeating your purpose of a healthy garden if you spray chemicals to get rid of all the bugs. I am telling you, all bugs are not bad. In fact, some bugs are very beneficial to vegetables and flowers. One good guy that you should invite into your garden is the praying mantis. He is a very effective predator. The ladybug is an aphid eating wonder; the garden spider is harmless to humans. This is an important garden insect predator. 

And don’t forget the wasps and the bees. Yes, they are our only pollinators that visit vegetables (like zucchini and squash) and flowers to assure they bloom and multiply. These pollinators are among the gardens most important workers.

Our tomato plants were doing well and we were eagerly waiting for the luscious red fruit to grace our table. When I walked past them one evening, I noticed something on one of the leaves. As I took a closer look, I saw a large black and green striped caterpillar happily chewing away the leaves on a tomato plant! I stood there watching it and was amazed at its size and bright colors. When I pointed this out to my husband, he picked it off the leaf and disposed of it. He said they would eat the whole plant by morning! Well, so much for that cool-looking worm! My husband brought home a cement birdbath the next evening. As the birds began using the birdbath, we no longer had a pretty caterpillar problem on our tomato plants. When you come to realize how these aspects come into play you can be a better natural gardener. Knowledge is the key.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207