The Almost-Complete Idiot’s Guide to Texas Gardening: Lesson 4

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Year Round Gardening: Which fertilizers and amendments to use when

I have to admit: I gardened (and built school gardens!) for several seasons before I ever used any soil fertilizers or amendments other than compost.  I was just completely overwhelmed by all the choices at the gardening shops, I had no idea what they did, and had no idea if they were organic or not.  So I just added fresh compost each season and that was that.

(Before we get too far, in case you missed them here are Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lesson 3 of the year-round gardening series.)

Luckily for me and my plants, this article and this article by Texas farmer Marshall Hinsley showed up on the North Central Texas Gardening Facebook page made their way into my life and into my garden.  In addition, training on indoor worm composting through the Texas Worm Ranch further influenced my training and my routine.

Let’s first ask ourselves a very important question: Why fertilize?  Well, just like you function better and have more energy and repair and grow better and fight off disease better when you are well-nourished, plants are living cells just like you.  A well-fed plant will have fewer pest issues and disease issues.  In fact, I use ZERO pest management strategies, not even organic pesticides, thanks to proper amending and watering.  I still get bugs, but not huge infestations caused by malnourishment.  So why not just use synthetic fertilizers if fertilizing is so great?  Synthetic fertilizers have terrible effects on the water table, cause deficiencies in other nutrients, and are frankly quite expensive and easy to over-apply.  They aren’t approved for organic gardening for these reasons.

Now, the list of organic amendments I am about to give you may seem overwhelming at first.  However, at the end I am going to give you a free printout checklist to help you keep up with all of these amendments.  And admittedly it was overwhelming to apply these at first.  But now I go out to my garden shed with my coffee cup each season and have the number of scoops for each colorful bag completely memorized and embedded into my process.  Also, since the articles here and here tell you in detail what these amendments do, I am just going to give it to ya straight in a list of what fertilizers and amendments to use when!

At installation, one time only:

  • 13 cups* of red lava sand
  • 1 inch over the entire bed of expanded shale
  • Mycorhizal fungi (may apply again later if soil damage ever occurs)

Before every spring planting (in December or January):

  • 3 cups* of Texas Green Sand (every other year starting the third year)
  • 5 cups* of alfalfa
  • ½ cup* Soft Rock Phosphate
  • 3 cups* dried molasses
  • Azomite (every other year starting the fourth year, 3x the rate on the bag)
  • Compost
  • Mulch to cover it all

Before every Fall planting (in August or maybe September):

  • 3 cups* of Texas Green Sand (first year only)
  • 5 cups* of alfalfa
  • ½ cup* Sul-Po-Mag
  • ½ cup* Soft Rock Phosphate
  • 3 cups* dried molasses
  • Compost
  • Mulch to cover it all

Every month:

  • All-purpose organic fertilizer
  • Earth Worm castings (from a living source-not stored in air-tight bags for long periods of time)

Every week:

  • Foliar feed of compost or earth worm casting tea (learned from Texas Worm Ranch)

*Cup = 12 oz coffee cup

Confession: The monthly and weekly applications are the ones I skip the most.  I still have lovely plants.  But I am sure they would be more lovely and more disease free and more pest free if I stuck to my own recommendations.  =)

Related posts:

Click here for Urban Farm’s podcast interview of me and my school garden program.

Click here for Urban Farm’s follow-up interview of me as the Featured Farmer on their blog.

Now, before I give you the fabulous free printout checklist to help you keep up with your fertilizer schedule, I want to tell you about a few opportunities to learn more of my gardening tricks first hand!

So, I have been working on something INCREDIBLE to answer all of the amazing questions you have been asking me about gardening.  I have partnered with the City of Cleburne AND Cook’s Children’s Hospital’s Johnson County Alliance for Healthy Kids to offer

The raised bed installation class will cover

  • raised bed construction
  • organic weed control
  • types of compost to use
  • how to apply the above amendments at planting time
  • and how to plant a permaculture-style raised bed garden!

It is on Saturday May 7 2016 starting at 1pm and is ONLY $25!!!  You can register here!!

The 6-class complete gardening module will start May 27th/28th (2016), and there will be a Friday morning class OR a Saturday afternoon class for you to conveniently choose from.  They are the exact same class, so you can choose each week which one you can come to!  You can register for the Friday class here and the Saturday class here!!

I will teach you everything I know about:

  • How to combat “there is TOO MUCH TO KNOW” paralysis
  • Design an amazing organic permaculture garden bed no matter how big of a gardening space you have
  • Save seeds
  • Start plants from seeds, and the perfect soil mix for seed starting, containers, and gardens
  • Container garden, and how to keep ants out of those containers
  • Fertilize organically, and a fertilization schedule for every season
  • Organic pest control
  • Fruit growing in Texas
  • How to prune tomatoes to maximize your yield
  • Worm bin composting, regular composting, and compost tea
  • How to preserve your garden harvest so that you get the most bang for your buck
  • How to extend your growing season
  • And how to do all this on a small budget!!!

After this module you will know EVERYTHING I KNOW that took me a DECADE to learn and HUNDREDS of dollars in classes and ZILLIONS OF FAILURES in order to grow my own veggies YEAR ROUND!!!!!

If you sign up for the entire course and pay up-front, there is a SIXTY DOLLAR price reduction for a total of $150 for the entire module!!  That’s just SEVEN DOLLARS AN HOUR!!!  You can also pay as you go for $30/class (plus a $30 registration fee; the $150 one-time payment includes the $30 fee).  Register here before it fills up!!!!

Make sure and SUBSCRIBE  to my email list for any special announcements about the class.  THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You will start growing YOUR year-round garden AS SOON AS THE FIRST CLASS!!!!!    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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And just to give you a preview of the awesomeness you will learn, here is the free printable annual amendment checklist I promised.  Enjoy!!

(click the link to download the checklist): Fertilization and Amendment Checklist

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