Archive for March 22nd, 2011

Hill Country Vegetable Gardening


Posted by Mikie Baker  |  2 Comments »

Dreaming of your own Texas Hill Country vegetable garden? Tired of trying to grow tomatoes in a Topsy Turvy? Given up on planting potatoes with a pick axe? Fear not! All you need in the Texas Hill Country is some wood and lots of time on your hands.

When I moved here to the lovely (rock infested), green (except in the drought years), land (2 acres of weeds) Texas Hill Country, my wish was to have a large, lush vegetable garden. After a year of hard labor, minus the ball and chain, I achieved my goal.

I named my garden after my fried brain

You, too, can have such a garden. It either takes big bucks or hard work. I chose the latter, but I bet I’ve learned enough to make it easier for you. After all, the rewards are great – I think.

 I canned 6 billion tomatoes last year

So, how did it all begin? With land, how else? I picked out a fairly flat plot (note to self: make sure it’s completely flat or you will fight drainage issues for years to come) in my back yard.

I’d say that would get at least 8 hours of sun a day

There are two critical items you must have with any Texas Hill Country garden: a fence tall enough to keep the deer out and raised beds. Raised beds are great for drainage and don’t grow rocks in them as Texas Hill Country land does. I’ve always said, if we could figure out how to run cars with rocks instead of gas, everyone here would be rich.

For the raised beds, you need wood. I just happened to have a “well seasoned” two-story playhouse that wasn’t being used. Well the help of just about any victim I could find and a crowbar, we dismantled the playhouse piece by piece. Voila, free wood!

They look pretty bored to me

With two borrowed sawhorses, a circular saw (I think that’s what it’s called) and a tape measure; I cut the boards into either 8 ft or 4 ft lengths for my 4 X 8 garden beds. I stacked one set of boards on top of the other so my beds would be 12 inches tall. In technical terms, I used 1 X 6’s which means the boards are an inch thick and 6 inches tall. I also cut short pieces for braces inside the boxes on the advice of Bob Simmons, my helpful go-to gardening expert who also explained to me what the heck a 1 X 6 was.

The Funny Farm has 17 beds, 2 of which are only 4 X 4, as I wanted two flower beds in my garden. Did you know that deer love to eat daffodils? Excuse me, did you know that deer love to eat anything?

Only 16 boxes to go

I learned rather quickly that I don’t know how to use a drill properly or make anything square. I had to call in a local box-building expert, Charlie Cooper, to finish up the job. Everything was ready to go when he showed up with his air compressor and magic nail shooter thingamajig. Creative people shouldn’t be allowed to handle power tools.

At this point, the squash bugs hadn’t discovered The Funny Farm yet

It took Charlie less than a day to slap all the beds together for me. Luckily I couldn’t hear his mutterings about “crazy women gardeners” over the noise of the air compressor. Guess that’s why he brought it.

Little boxes all in a row

I thought the next step would be to put up a fence, but then I realized it would be much easier to haul dirt into the beds without having to go in and out of the gate. In reality, the next step was to take on the grueling job of filling up the 17 beds with dirt. If you can find a teenage boy who isn’t lazy and you have a pocketful of cash, you might be able to get some half-decent help. Mostly, I did it myself as motivated teenage boys and pockets full of money are both rare.

Sore muscles need to keep the goal in mind

Tomorrow, we’ll examine the easiest and cheapest way to get rich, fertile soil in the Texas Hill Country if you don’t have access to a major credit card.

Spreading laughter throughout the world…one chuckle at a time.

Mikie Baker