In February, the nurseries start selling tomatoes; the larger tomatoes earlier in the month, “cherry” tomatoes (Ruby Crush, BHN968) later in the month. The 4” tomatoes can be potted up into 1-gallon containers but it’s too early to plant tomatoes in the ground.
As we dream about spring vegetable gardens; consider David Rodriguez’s 90% guidelines. The idea is, following these guidelines, a vegetable gardener should be successful 90% of the time:
1) Spring-Summer vegetables need 8-10 hours of full, direct sun;
2) Remove any root competition: Weeds & grasses (Bermuda is especially bad at invading gardens), avoid planting vegetable gardens near bushes or trees.
3) Efficient watering: With this having been a “dry” winter, drip irrigation is the most efficient form of watering. Hand watering can splash water on the leaves of vegetables, which can promote disease development.
4) Soil amending: Incorporate a couple of inches of well-aged manure-based compost into the soil. Then in March, mix in a 19-5-9 slow release fertilizer at 3-5 lbs per 100 sq. ft. If using an organic fertilizer, like a 3-2-3, proper fertilization might require using more than a synthetic fertilizer. Also, if using an organic fertilizer, incorporate into the soil about 6 weeks before planting.
5) Spacing: Vegetables that are planted too close to each other prevent adequate airflow and also can increase the possibility of spreading disease and insects.
6) Buy plants recommended by TAMU. The plants recommended by TAMU are recommended because they have undergone years of growing & testing, many here in Bexar County. Recommended varieties of Spring vegetables for Bexar County can be found here.
Our Entomologist, Molly Keck, tells us to look early for insects. A warm winter can encourage insects to start their lifecycle early.
Contributing authors to the series, “This Month in the Vegetable Garden”:
Grace Emery, BCMG Vegetable AT
Karen Gardner, BCMG Vegetable AT
Michelle Hobbs, BCMG Vegetable AT
Rosalie Iltis, BCMG Vegetable AT
Bill Swantner, BCMG Vegetable AT