GARDENING

With such extreme swings in temperatures and weather, it’s no wonder that gardening and landscaping can be a challenge in West Texas! 

But there’s no doubt that there are many benefits to gardening, and it’s worth the effort — challenges can even make something more worthwhile and valuable. 

Even if you’re not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I want to encourage us all to get outside and do more gardening this year.  Whether it’s growing herbs, vegetables and fruit to eat, or increasing curb appeal and backyard enjoyment through landscaping, working with plants has many benefits.

Firstly, gardening can promote health. The physical activities like mulching, planting, pruning and mowing are good exercise, and can burn about 300 calories per hour. 

Growing vegetables can be an effective way to get kids to eat healthier — studies show children are more likely to eat vegetables if they help grow them. The fresh air and sunshine are also good for the body (just be sure to use sunscreen and mosquito repellent as needed).

High-quality landscaping can add fun outdoor living spaces to your property. Designing the yard to have an enjoyable living space like an outdoor kitchen or grilling area, or a play area for kids, can make the landscape a nice place to entertain or spend time together as a family.

Growing trees, lawns and gardens can be challenging in West Texas, but there are many opportunities to learn how to be more successful.

One way is to receive locally-targeted instruction in horticulture from taking the Master Gardener Training class offered through the Tom Green County Extension Office. The next class will start in February and will be held every Tuesday afternoon for 15 weeks, covering a different topic each week. To sign up or find out more info, call the Extension Office at 325-659-6528.

There are also a lot of helpful resources for gardening online and in books, but it’s important to identify high-quality sources of information, because there can be a lot of conflicting advice out there. 

Some information may be appropriate for one geographic location, but not another. 

Look for websites that are university and extension-based; some good examples would be Texas A&M Horticulture at the link https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu or the Tom Green County Extension horticulture resources located at https://tomgreen.agrilife.org/horticulture.

Allison Watkins is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for Agriculture in Tom Green County. Contact her at [email protected]

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