Reaping The Rewards Of Spring Planning

Brownie points if you can identify everything in this picture!

This month is heavy on the picking and light on the work. Why? Because I worked hard in the spring to create this exact scenario. Water-wise, deep beds have yielded incredible amounts of produce. See how we built them here: Hugelkultur, Keyhole Gardens: Bridging Ideas and here: Motherโ€™s Day Raised Hugelkultur Bed!

Hugelkultur/keyhole garden inspired bed. These will have worm bins in the middle in a few weeks.

Instructions for creating a carefree, water-wise layer for a raised bed can be found here: Efficient Summer Watering In A Raised Bed

Newspaper, landscape fabric, wood mulch, soaker hoses and a water-wise raised bed are a few of the things I use in my garden.

Sealed beds have created areas for flowers with no invading Bermuda grass and little to pull as far as seed born weeds. This is how I beat the Bermuda: Beds Over Bermuda grass Or: Landscape Fabric Sandwich.

Attracting pollinators is easy with annual seeds. Bachelor buttons and zinnia are a few of the flowers I have growing right now.

All I have to do at the moment is to sit back and enjoy my garden. Down here in the South Texas summer, as the mercury rises and the afternoons become unbearably hot: that’s all I want to be doing outside.

Organic gardening conditions are doable if you have planned ahead and removed the labor from the summer garden. After considerable planning and spring work: all I have to do mid-summer is watch for disease and insects and hook up the watering hose. Planning ahead will make the extra effort required to use more organic practices possible.

Right now I just add water and watch for the summer bug invasion. Armed with Neem oil and a watering hose I have much to enjoy and not much to worry about. I do my heavy work in the spring when the weather is nice and I am motivated.

With our long season I am planting corn in February/March and harvesting in June. We have two corn seasons down here. Smaller gardens have the ability to produce large quantities because of the extended growing season.

We have a short winter downtime. Our growing season is close to 280 days. But it wouldn’t be this much fun if I hadn’t thought ahead and prepared. Two years after buying our home I have slowly eked out a great garden space, despite our: heavy clay soil, invading Bermuda grass and my annoying health issues. Here’s what I am currently enjoying in a near maintenance-free garden:

Figs are ripening.
The corn hit 7 feet and started tassling last month. I have already harvested the majority of the corn. Because I live so far South, my growing season is ahead of most of the rest of the country. If you watch my blog you can plan ahead and have the techniques that I use ready as your spring, summer and fall approaches.
2014 has been a great year for corn for me. I grow only heirloom vegetables (outside of tomatoes) and corn is one of the most genetically modified and hybridized vegetables you can grow. Avoiding gmo contamination is huge problem with seed corn because it is wind pollinated and pure strains of older varieties are becoming harder to find. Check out heirloom seed sites like and help ensure genetic variety for our future.
The kitty who makes his own rules. I can’t keep him out! As you can see the netting I used to keep him out in the spring has totally failed at this point. He’s an antique (20+ years old!) and a good friend, so sometimes I let him win in the battle of the right to rule the garden!
Tickseed (Coreopsis) is a favorite of mine. Virtually carefree and in constant bloom. It just takes some deadheading to keep it beautiful all summer.
Love in a mist (Nigella damascena) is fun annual to grow. Look for seeds, you won’t find these annuals in pots in a garden center! The great thing about older garden staples is they are extremely easy to save seed from and grow year after year: just like your (great+) grandma used to!
Keep pollinators happy with old time favorites. They offer great diversity in pollen and nectar for our garden friends like: hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Find flower lists online or just order an annual flower seed mix. Seed mixes of heirloom varieties are the most appealing to the bugs you want to attract.
I grew canna lilies from seed this year. (They are perennials down here and a fun addition to an edible garden.) I belong to a seed train (a group that shares seed between it’s members for the price of postage.) I found mine on yahoo groups. If you can’t find one: start one! You will soon find takers. Getting a box in the mail is like Christmas for seed train members. You will receive favorites from random gardens across the nation!
Culinary oregano in bloom. A great addition to salads, sandwiches and cooked dishes. I recommend growing lots of herbs. They are easy to care for and are usually pretty mild when they are picked fresh. Because of this: you can enjoy fresh herbs in all kinds of meals and they attract all kinds of good bugs.
Tomatoes from one of my monster cherry tomato plants. If you live in the deep south and wonder why you have trouble with tomatoes: it’s because the temperatures in the summers stay too hot. Tomatoes will abort fruit and flowers once it hits our summertime temps. I know it seems counter-intuitive but tomatoes are pretty picky about their growing temperatures, even hot ones. Since we don’t cool off at night, the summer won’t give you many tomatoes. Our viable season for tomatoes, down here by San Antonio, is very short in both the spring and fall. Try smaller varieties and determinate types that will set all of their fruit at once. Because the season is so short for them I don’t bother with seed. I go with transplants from a garden center and I am usually pleased with the result.
Basil in bloom. Letting my herbs flower and go to seed has been one of the best ways to attractant bees and other beneficial insects to my yard.
Bouquet of zinnia, echinacea, day lily and cosmos. I have bouquets like this all season long.
You can never have enough fresh figs!!!!



Would you like to know what I know about successful gardening? Check out the tab at the top of the page titled: Gardening Basics There’s a lot to digest on that page, so book mark it and come back as you need more information. It covers all you need to know to grow, and the information is free. You can do this and I can show you how!


47 thoughts on “Reaping The Rewards Of Spring Planning

    1. I have had short seasons when we lived in Colorado at 5500 feet. We had snow in June some years. As a gardener I can’t say I miss the short season. However, the views were incredible! Thanks for the follow! I appreciate it either way!

    1. Thank you! There’s certainly different options with different land. I was thinking last night I sure wish I had some of the options my mom has on her farm with excellent soil and her tractor…but I don’t think I’d be popular with our hoa! Each situation has different solutions. I have a feeling God has given me exactly enough! Thanks for coming by again! I appreciate your visits.

      1. The pleasure is mine. We have lots of land and tractors and still use a raised bed garden for our personal use. My wife picked 7 lbs of green beans yesterday and dug up her potatoes. I think raised beds are much more efficient and easy to manage.

  1. I am crazy about figs, you made my mouth water. That all looks so good, thank you for sharing your technique! I can’t wait to get out of this apartment and find a bit of earth.

    1. Start where you are! You can grow all kinds of fun things indoors. I have a couple of friends who have always been in apartments or condos. They both have done amazing things with the space they already have.

      1. I really have not got any free space. I am trying to grow children, and we are starting with houseplants. They have a peace lily and some of that ivy that grows with no sunlight, because I don’t get light in here. I would need grow lamps and etc. I won’t be here forever, I will get someplace better within a few years. For now, I dream through your blog..

  2. Tickseeds are lovely–wonder if they’d grow here in St. Louis? I’ll look into that for next year. I’m wondering how you us neem oil as an insecticide. I bought some to use for mosquito repellant–stinks too much and my uber sensitive nose cannot handle the stench. BUT to keep my garden happy, that’s a possibility. Do share, please. And great pics. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I mix it according to the directions on the bottle in a tank sprayer. I add a few other things when I’ve got fungal problems. I’ll try and post my mix on here soon. The neem oil breaks bug breeding cycles down. It is not fast acting and needs to be applied a couple times to start seeing results. I use it as soon as I notice spidermites or aphids and keep up a regular spray schedule per container directions. It’s OMRI certified as an organic insecticides and can be used in organic gardening ( ) It is best used with the understanding that it is not a 1 time knockdown insecticide…but nothing organic is. It works well on some fungal diseases as well and I rely on it for both uses. It’s often sold in concentrate as a 3 in one: fungicide, miticide and insecticide. Just look for the active ingredient as neem oil. I don’t recommend it for caterpillars or if you are overrun already with disease or smaller insects because it takes too long to work in those cases. I’m not a purist. When I’m in danger of losing my plants I will go with the more potent chemical insecticides and fungicides. I try to keep above that choice though, by regularly spraying with neem. It does work well in that way.

      My mom is in the Midwest and she grows tickseed. Tickseed is the common name, you can also find it under it’s botanical name: Coreopsis.

      1. I’ve got some pure neem oil, intending to use it as an ingredient in a mosquito repellant. ohmygoodness it stinks so badly, I can’t handle it!! No wonder it’s a mosquito repellant!! lol I don’t have issues right now, but know as the summer progresses I will. Thanks for posting the OMRI site. Much to learn, much to learn… ๐Ÿ™‚

        I researched Coreopsis, and discovered resources for next year. None seem as beautiful as yours, though!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I kept your picture up and was comparing the garden catalogs sites — yours seems unique!! Lucky you!

  3. Wow, you have an amazing garden. Quite jealous of your long growing season but I think we have you beat in tomato weather here in northern Illinois ;). The picture of your corn plants is beautiful.

  4. Your garden looks fabulous. I am so jealous of all the fruit. My mouth just watered at the pictures. 280 day growing season would be amazing but not possible in Sweden. I like Judy have 90 to 120 days growing season. I agree planning is necessary to maximize harvest. We are still perfecting that but I will look at the post that you suggested. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Well living in Maine I don’t have much of a growing season – nice to see produce in June – we usually don’t get much until August ……..

    1. We move a lot. We were in the foothills in Colorado before we moved down here. There has been a huge learning curve between the two areas! I’m loving the season length but we could definitely use more rain. We’re not out of the drought yet. Thanks for coming by! I appreciate it.

      1. Good blog – lots of great info – and who knows, I might get somewhere warm some day!

  6. Oh, you lucky dog with that nice long growing season down there! I love your pictures. Thank you so much for letting me have a peek into your garden. Alas, corn and tomatoes won’t be ready here for at least a month.

    1. Thanks! My mom is in Kansas and they don’t have corn until the fourth of July. She was jealous of my corn being early but she’s got great soil and perfect summer temperatures for many more veggies than I do. In high summer we have okra and melons and not much else! It gets pretty miserable with the heat and not many things survive it. Good luck with your patch of ground! I’m glad you came by. I appreciate it!

    1. We moved away from the springs the year before the fires started (after living there for over a decade). Our family is in Denver and Vail. I remember the weather there very well. I always loved the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Colorado: wait ten minutes”! Most of the year it is fantastic but there’s definitely some reasons I don’t miss it.

  7. What a wonderful post and lots of lovely inspiring pics ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m with you on hard work in Spring paying off, we’ve had a great strawberry season so far and I’m picking raspeberries daily at the moment!
    โ™ก Summer B-)

    1. I absolutely love the photos of those cookies on your site (and the soda bread, and the ginger apricot shortbread…now I’m hungry!) Incredibly detailed. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it.

  8. Your gardens look amazing. I’m jealous (my husband says insane) because I want a lot more room for my gardens. Thank you for sharing your pictures. Coreopsis is also one of my favorites as well.

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