Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Edible Garden

I'm not a very experienced vegetable gardener. Some herbs (like rosemary) I am very familiar with, because it is one of the adaptable species we use in our landscape designs. A lot of herbs, however, are annuals and are somewhat foreign to me. I mean, I know the plants. I know I can grow the plants, I just have not. This year I'm determined to become a successful edible garden-gardener, though.

My wonderful husband (yes, THE Native Dave) built a raised bed for my veggies. I decided I wanted to grow the produce we consume most, like cucumbers, red bell peppers and various berries. But would they grow here on the Texas Coast? Humid, hot and high winds seem to be ingredients in a recipe for gardening disaster. Really, no matter where you live, climatic conditions must be considered before planting your garden. Consult with science-based research for your area by contacting your local extension agency: Information is free to any Texas resident. Another valuable resource of information -- especially if you are new to an area -- is your local nursery or garden center. In the Dallas area, Shades of Green Nursery in Frisco ( employs knowledgeable and helpful staff, and their plants are of good quality. (They also carry many native Texas plants!) Petal Pusher's Garden Emporium ( in Cedar Hill also offers friendly, experienced advice and gorgeous plants. (And plentiful native Texas plants, as well!)

In Central Texas, John Dromgoole's The Natural Gardener ( and Garden-Ville in San Marcos ( are two of my favorite places to shop for veggies, herbs, native plants and all-things-organic. Green Gate Nursery in Seguin is another great place, period. (In recent years they have begun to carry more native Texas plants.)

In Corpus Christi, for veggies and herbs, and plain ol' good service, the place to shop is Turner's Gardenland ( Gill Nursery ( is also top-notch, and they stock a lot of coastal native plants, too.  In addition to information, the extension agencies and most of the nurseries I've mentioned host educational classes open to the public. I was sad to miss a recent program at Turner's about berrying bushes...

Books are also great sources of information, though they are usually too broad in scope and may not always serve your specific area. Focusing on local resources is best. For general advice about gardening with vegetables and herbs, however, Howard Garrett's books are great.

Both personally and professionally, my mission is to conserve, preserve, restore and celebrate natural resources. The most effective way for any individual to make significant, positive and measurable changes in her community is by way of landscaping and gardening using sustainable techniques. Using native plants in your landscape reduces watering and maintenance tasks, allows your landscape to flourish without routine chemical applications, serves as food and shelter for native wildlife, and nurtures your area's sense of identity. Some vegetables, herbs, fruits and nut-bearing plants function similar to natives (we include them with "adaptables") and may be incorporated into your native landscape. (See Others, however, may be better suited to pots, planter or other containers (we treat them as annuals.) In my edible garden are plants that may be used responsibly in landscape beds, but I'm growing most things in pots, regardless. If I find they do well in my area (and under my care ;-) I will invite them to a more permanent spot in the landscape.

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