Grow a Garden. Stronger Together
Green sprouts and pastel petals: Nature appreciation can help us through this closed-in time. Spring and summer find the Port Arthur area awash in blooms from bluebonnets at Museum of the Gulf Coast to the lotus and citrus blossoms at the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple in Port Arthur.
Since we’re appreciating things from home now, start right in the back yard by noticing what’s already growing there and cultivating new growth. Veteran gardeners have already seized upon this time to get gardens spruced up, flowers and vegetables planted, etc., said Micah Katharine Leigh, a Jefferson County Master Gardener.
New to the Garden?
“If you are new to gardening, now is a perfect time to start,” Leigh said, and urged grabbing a mask to assemble essentials. For smaller areas, use containers and some good potting soil.
“If you want to start an area in your yard, make sure it gets at least 6 hours of sun each day, then clean out any grass or weeds before you plant.”
Herbs & Flowers
Want to get the kids involved? Try growing a “pizza garden” of oregano, basil and chives to flavor your homemade Italian dinners?
“Herbs and flowers are good for containers. You can buy transplants or start your own from seed,” Leigh said. “Make sure to see how big the plant will be at maturity and pair up with a container accordingly. You don’t want a 10- inch pot if your plant will reach 3 feet tall.”
“When you are choosing a plant, notice where it is at the store. Shade plants will be in a covered area. Sun lovers will be out in full sun,” Leigh said.
Experiment, and Have Fun!
“I want to emphasize to beginners that this is a time to experiment. Don’t stress over the end result. We have enough to stress over right now. Gardening should be fun! If your flowers bloom, hurray! If they don’t, so what? At least you were outside doing something to clear your mind, right? Be gentle with yourself. There is no such thing as a green or brown thumb. It’s all about education. Read up on what grows and give it a try while you have this time, Leigh said.
For the Birds
Want to attract tiny, flighty hummingbirds? Jana Whittle of Golden Triangle Audubon Society says most of the plants in her yard are designed to attract those little beauties. Mexican Cuphea, Purple Porterweed, Red Shrimp Plant, Turk’s Cap and Bottle Brush are some showy bloomers as colorful as the hummers who come to feed.
Don’t you love these names? Whittle has also planted Candy Corn Cuphea, Big Mama’s Turk’s Cap, Shumani, Orange Abutilon, American Beautyberry and Hamelia Pattens.
“We also have a mulberry tree and an oak in the front. hummers in the fall are attracted to the bugs that go to where the acorns are attached to the oak trees,” she said. “Other plants are red petunias, all salvias and even petunias.”
Water plants in the morning. Night watering causes leaves to stay wet too long and cause mildew and disease, Master Gardener Melissa Starr says. Also, plant potatoes, tomatoes and peppers in different places every year.
Remember Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as dates to fertilize trees, Master Gardener, Eileen Slater, says. Gardens are for all to enjoy, except maybe worms and snails. spread crushed eggshells around plants to keep them away.
Keep things growing and enjoy our great outdoors.