Hello - I am new here and new to gardening. I told myself for the past 10 years that I was going to start gardening and . . . 10 years have passed with no gardening done! I live in Richmond, Texas (25 miles SW of Houston) in a semi-country setting/subdivision on 1.5 acres of land. SO I have plenty of room for growing things! This IS the year that I will start my gardening adventures and I felt a vegetable garden would be a good first project for me as a beginner with a budget. Therefore any information you can send my way would greatly help. My main three questions right now please are:
(1) We have A LOT of deer wandering through our lots and they ARE not skittish. I can sit outside with my dogs and the deer will stay where they are eating as close as 25+ yards away. Therefore I need to make sure the fencing I use around my garden is high enough to keep them out. How high would that be and what is a good value material to use? I was thinking of four 2x2 or 4x4 posts for the corners and then some tall chicken wire (Or something else but I have no clue what else) wrapped around the four corners. I am sure I would use additional posts in between the four corners for more support for the the fencing to attach to.
(2) I plan to grow 7-8 veggies that I enjoy eating: carrots, green peppers (hopefully I can get them to become sweet red before the devil shows up), red or sweet onions, lettuce, corn, radishes, cucumbers, and pickling cucumbers. The pickle cucumbers are so I can follow-up on another new adventure, namely I am going to make my own pickles. My question in all this is seeds . . . do I buy the seeds (from an online company you would kindly recommend) and then plant them in the ground come the 1st week of March, or do I try the germinating experiment. Note: I do not know the germinating experiment too well but I can tell you although we have 10 large windows around the house, they let sun in but they are all shaded if that makes sense. In essence they face North or South. (EXTRA NOTATION HERE----> For those of you who didn't catch my devil phrase above, the devil in this usage represents the Sun in Houston from late June to early Sept. During this time you can expect the temps AND HUMIDITY to be between 95-100 every single day So a lot of stuff cooks during this time and I would hope the veggies would be picked by then! I have a spot set on the north-west side of my house that pretty much gets sunlight for most of the day particularly in the late afternoon-early evening.
(3) When do I know when to harvest the veggies and do I try growing another batch in Sept/Oct after the devil "cools off" into the 80's or do I just leave the dirt as is until next March?
Thanks for all your help and I look forward to gardening very soon!
I can't tell you about the when as I live in the north and for me to get in my garden March 1 would involve a snowplow, but Carrots, Corn and Radishes don't get transplanted. They are sown directly in the garden. Corn needs to be planted several rows wide because the wind pollinates it.
Radishes only take about 3 weeks. Try to pick them a little on the young side as they turn woody if allowed to go to long.
With corn the silk changes a little and you can always open one to see how it is going.
The rest of the vegetables you mention get picked when they look like what your are familiar with.
As far as deer fence goes It looks like they recommend a minimum of 8' to keep raised white tails in. A lot of it depends on how hungry they are and what else there is to eat.
You might check out the Texas Gardening forum, they would have great advice, and be very helpful, I'm sure. I used to garden in S Florida, so I'm familiar with Heat gardening :). Your lettuce and radishes should go in now, I think, if you want any this year. Carrots probably in the fall. Corn, peppers and cukes are heat lovers, but I don't know when you should start them. I had hot peppers over winter in fFl, so you might be able to start them inside and get then out quickly. Corn and cukes I direct seed, they haven't transplanted well for me. If you have a County Extension office close to you, I'd talk to them about timing and varieties. This is Houston;
Welcome Aboard! You're in my growing zone. We have an entire thread going on now for veggie gardeners in Zones 8-9a about to begin Spring/Summer Veggie Gardens. Come over and Join us there. Please review the previous threads (the links are posted), too, as many of your questions will have been answered there.
Let me mention deer. My first year with my garden the deer ate everything the squirrels left behind. I read all the articles about deer fencing and decided I that was completely out of my budget, plus in my subdivision an eight foot fence would look like a prison camp.
So I started with the repellents, Deer Off actually worked pretty darn well for me. Of course you have to keep reapplying it and that gets expensive pretty fast. Still it allowed my plants time to grow with out being eaten by deer or squirrels. As I worked in the garden and as my new neighbors had two small dogs the deer attacks became less of a problem. Then as I noticed the behavior of the deer I found they had a trail right down my back fence, the power line right of way. I managed to block that trail off, and that nearly stopped the deer completely. I do still have them visit occasionally, but last year I was able to grow my vegetables with no spray or tall deer fence. I do have a regular height chain link fence for most of my back yard, but the Vegetable garden is outside of that. Why the squirrels were not a problem in the garden this past year I don't know, and the deer may be back this year but you might want to work with the garden a while before building an 8 foot fence.
The best deer repellent is as simple as capsicum. My family has used hot-pepper-juice for years. It WORKS! When you notice that your crops are being eaten by deer, spray hot-pepper-juice on the thing that they are eating. Deer are creatures of habit, and they have a set territory. They walk a path every day that circles back around to their bedding area. If, every time they visit your garden they are bitten on the tongue with habanero sauce, then they will eventually learn to go around your garden. It is also a good idea to plant something they like outside your garden to keep them busy. Like peas, chicory, raspberries, autumn olive, wild grapes, etc.
To make the hot sauce:
1: Get some of the hottest peppers you can find. Dried or fresh works just as well. Grow them or go to the mexican store and ask for chilis mas caliente.
2. Crush them and soak them in cold water for 48 hours. Just enough water to cover them...the less water, the better. You can put them in a blender with a little water if you want. That works best.
3. After 48 hours, strain the water off of the peppers and squeeze every drop you can out of the peppers. Use rubber gloves!
4. Dip a toothpick into the water and touch it to your tongue. If you spend five minutes gargling milk to get the burn to go away, then it is perfect!
5. Put the water in a pump-up sprayer and spray it on whatever the deer are eating at the time. Wear a face mask and long sleeves if there is any wind at all...seriously!
Don't worry, the rain washes it off so you can eat your veggies. Obviously, every time it rains, you need to spray again. The idea is to convince the family of deer in your area that your garden is not worth the risk. It is somewhat cruel...but it works. Also, if you are even slightly sadistic, then it is a prime opportunity for entertainment. Watch the deer after they eat this stuff. Sometimes, they actually spit. Everytime, they run with the white tail up...which makes all the rest follow.
After a week or so, they will avoid your garden like the plague. After another couple of months, they will get brave again. Then, repeat the process.
I use a 6' critter fence, being sure that your gates also cannot be jumped. I was still having trouble so I added 2' of electric fencing to the top of that, and at one entry point near the drive through gate, I put electric fencing at 5 feet and wrapped it with tin foil. Then I slathered the tinfoil in peanut butter and plugged it in. That stopped the final incursions into the garden. I have a half acre in garden and they were determined to get in.
That was 3 years ago, and no more incursions. They eat all over the yard, but steer clear of the garden.
Pickles: google refrigerator pickles, they are simple, and superb. and so easy to make.
You do live in an area where a second season garden would be fun to try. Not sure how cool the fall is there, but cabbage, cauli, carrots, lettuce, choys, peas, might all work
Ahhhh! Thlorian signed up on Feb 2, 2011. Posted this thread the same day. Got the answers and signed off the next day never to be seen again. I guess the next time we hear from Thlorian will be the next time he needs our help. I wonder if he is French? The French are always there when they need us! LoL! No offense to French-Americans :)
I was getting ready to write a reply that she should get a hold of Gymgirl, as one of the resident experts in the Houston area. That's when I noticed the the replies started in February and then were going to January. I thought something happened to my computer, then I finally noticed the year...