Texas has a wonderful climate for growing a vegetable garden. While the summers may get too hot for many plants, it is possible to continue growing throughout the winter as the winter sun in Texas is quite strong. To grow a successful garden, you need to plan carefully for the climate in your part of the state by choosing the correct plants and garden site and preparing for the care you will have to give your garden.
Plan the Garden Site
First, choose where you will plant your garden. Select a spot of your property that receives full sun and has rich, deep soil if possible. Make sure your water source is close by--watering in Texas is extremely important. Try to keep your garden site away from plants like trees or shrubs that will compete with your plants for water and nutrients.
Choose your Layout and Plants
Planning your vegetable plot will save you a great deal of trouble and labor later. Plants that grow on a vine such as cucumbers, squashes and melons require a great deal of space and can pollinate one another. Plants like beets, tomatoes, eggplant and lettuces require much less space to grow. Choose varieties of plants that are drought-hardy if possible--Texas summers can be extremely dry and hot. Your local agricultural extension agency can tell you which varieties of plants grow well in your area.
Timing your Garden
Plants have many different time frames for maturation and harvest. In addition, some plants may grow better at different times of the summer. For example, beets grow very quickly, maturing in 30 to 60 days. They are best planted from mid-January to early March in central Texas, ready to harvest in April or May. On the other hand, tomatoes are best planted from mid-March to mid-April in central Texas, maturing and fruiting around 80 days later in late June and early July. Because Texas summers can be brutal, plants that grow well later in the summer in other parts of the country may fare better with an earlier planting in many parts of Texas. Plants like mustard greens, kale and chard also grow well in Texas winters. Check when different kinds of plants are best planted in your area of Texas and arrange for a good harvest of different kinds of vegetables throughout the seasons.
Fertilizing and Watering
Texas has a wide variety of soils, from rich clay-based loam to sandy well-draining soils. While sandy soil needs the most fertilizer, it cannot handle and store as many of the nutrients as clay soil can. Before planting, apply and mix in a fertilizer targeted toward your type of soil. If you keep a compost heap, add some compost before planting and sidedress plants as needed during the season. The hot and dry summers of Texas require diligent irrigation. The Texas Agriculture and Mechanical University guide to home gardening in Texas notes that the equivalent of one inch of rain per week is the minimum requirement for many plants to grow and produce. Water during the coolest part of the day to ensure that the water does not quickly evaporate.