Monday, May 14, 2007
When I first moved to South Texas in October 2005, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into as I prepared to start my new garden. Coming from the Austin area of Central Texas, I had grown used to a certain way of gardening. There, I knew how much I had to water plants to get them started, and I knew how much water some plants would need to keep them going as 100 degree temperatures and a relentless sun beat down on them during the high part of summer. When I first started gardening in Central Texas, I thought I was cursed with the worst soil. I had five feet deep of clay. This former prairie had been abused, first being over farmed and then being compacted as heavy equipment established a new subdivision. Once I had started adding compost and green sand, the soil burst to life. By the time we left, I could stick just about anything anywhere in the garden, and it would more likely than not thrive. When I first started my garden in Harlingen, I began by gardening like how I did when I left Salado. It should not have been a big surprise when my stingy watering habits and austere soil supplementation practices killed more than a few plants. I had to begin from ground zero in building up a good soil. It needed lots of compost and green sand. Plants needed a little more water to get going than in Salado. Another big change for my new garden was the absence of spring rain. In Salado, the spring rain would send everything into a growing frenzy. In this part of South Texas, spring is a dry season. Plants want that springtime boast, but they never get it. It was shocking to me when I realized I would have to work for what I had taken for granted in Central Texas. Slowly, but surely, the garden is taking shape, and it looks better each bag of compost is dumped on it. The soil and plants act like the Cookie Monster on "Sesame Street" and hungrily slurp up whatever nutrients I provide.