Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
A class was held for the public this month called Gardening on the Cheap taught by Master Gardener, Jim Longstreet. Jim has the philosophy that if you can’t eat it he won’t grow it. The class was full of tips on how to garden for free, or at least cheaply. I want to share some of those with you and maybe spur you on to using these or finding some of your own.
Repurpose and make do with what you have. Be a good steward of what you have available to you. Your friends and neighbors may have pots, leaves, or grass clippings they will happily let you haul away. It will give you a great sense of satisfaction.
A simple vegetable garden is 4’ x 24’ and 12” deep which will house 6 tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, 6 eggplants, 8 each of spinach, Swiss chard and kale plants. The cheapest way to get started is to buy seeds and start them now. You can buy seeds in bulk which is even less expensive and split the cost with your gardening friends. Be sure to add compost to your garden beds. Our local soil has a high Ph and compost will help to lower that. Both Midland and Odessa AgriLife offices have (for free) the form and container to have your soil tested at Texas A&M for a fee of $12.00. Well worth the money.
Jim lives in town and gardens on each side of his house, 350 square feet of garden on each side. He has developed an amazing system and you can too. Of course, he is producing large yields with only half a day of sunlight. That is one of the great things about living in the West Texas sun.
Look for five gallon buckets! They are everywhere-on the side of the road, at your neighbors house, etc. They are great for hauling everything, especially rain water, and can be used to cover your plants during inclimate weather. Don’t throw away your old t-shirts. Cut them into strips and use them to tie your plants to the stake or tomato cage.
Collect your rainwater and use it to water your plants. It’s healthier for both your plants and for you.
Happy Gardening and remember Jim’s advice: Waste not, want not.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.eduand westtexasgardening.org.