It seems that when Americans go through tough times, they turn to creating gardens. It makes sense for many reasons. In the U.S., gardening is one of our top outdoor leisure time activities. It is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise or just some space away from whomever you are quarantined with.
Many people have started growing their own food during this time and not just for fun. Food pantries across Denton County are experiencing an increase in demand anywhere from 300-500%. There are several community gardens in our area that are dedicated to growing fresh produce to donate to food pantries.
These gardens can use extra help as they try to ramp up production to meet the needs of the county. It is also a great way to learn more about gardening and food production.
Three community gardens that the Master Gardeners are highly involved in and that produce food specifically to donate are Shiloh Field in Denton, the Flower Mound First Baptist Church garden and The Grove at the Sandy Jacobs Government Center in Carrollton. Many other community gardens have plot space available for individuals to work the soil for their own produce; let us know if you need help locating one.
Growing your own food can help during these rough financial times, and the act of gardening itself can be beneficial. Research shows that just interacting with nature can have healing effects. There is a bacteria in soil that has been noted to interact with our bodies to have an antidepressant effect.
It’s a little late to start vegetables for a summer harvest; but you might get away with planting some of our heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, eggplant, okra and beans.
Beginning in August and September, it’s time to start putting in our fall gardens. We have a great fall vegetable season.
First thing to consider if you want to grow a food crop is that you need ample sunlight. Vegetables and fruits ideally need 8 hours of direct sunlight to flourish. The next biggest consideration is soil.
The best way to make sure you have good soil is to make your own raised bed or do container gardening. Five-gallon buckets will even work!
If you don’t have access to outdoor sunlight, you can grow food with the help of artificial lighting. That is a more complicated subject, but I’d be glad to point you to resources if you are interested.
At dcmga.com we have a tab for North Texas Gardening and a section dedicated to growing vegetables. Our Master Gardeners may be at home, but they are still available to answer your gardening questions: 940-349-2892 or email@example.com. Especially if you are a new gardener, you may start seeing all sorts of insects and diseases! We are here to help you diagnose the problem and solve it.
Lastly, this time has moved us beyond our norm, and AgriLife has been rapidly responding with various online opportunities. I am involved with the Aggie Horticulture Facebook Live event every Wednesday and Friday at 1 p.m. They are recorded, and you can watch them later. We’ve focused on food crops mostly. Check aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fblive to see what you missed and what’s coming up!