Visitors pick up gardening tips at 46th annual Home and Garden Show | region

BELTON — The Temple Area Builders Association’s 46th annual Home and Garden Show hit full stride Saturday at the Bell County Expo Center, showingcasing a variety of home improvement services, gardening tips, activities for children and the SPJST Car Show.

The final segment of the three-day show will be 11 am to 4 pm today.

On Saturday, people stopped by the Bell County Master Gardeners booth, many of them taking in one of five free seminars. Master Gardener Jerry Lewis led the 11th seminar on Spring Vegetable Gardening in Central Texas, subtitled “The good, the bad and the ugly.”

“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes” was another one-liner on the class’s video screen. Lewis handed out copies of a planning guide, designed to show the window of time when certain fruits and vegetables should be planted.

“This cold weather has really changed things up,” he said.

He’s not going to put his tomatoes outside within the next two weeks, as he usually does, he said, because of the cold temperatures.

He showed some enviable garden photos.

“That’s what you want,” he said. “That’s my garden a couple of years ago.”

He outlined his talk with seven keys to successful gardening: Water, Sunlight, Convenient Location, Soil Condition, What to Plant, When to Plant and How to Plant.

Availability is the vital thing about water, he said, although drainage is important. Drip irrigation is one method of watering your garden, he said. Some crops, such as peppers, require more water than carrots, for example, he said.

People should not spray their garden, he said, because they’re wasting water and damaging the plants.

“There are different ways to do it, but you’ve got to conserve water,” he said.

He polled the audience and several people said they had done rainwater harvesting. One inch of rain on a 2,000-square-foot roof will net 600 gallons of water, he said.

The availability of water will become more critical in the future, he said, when the world has more people but the same amount of water.

As for sunlight, he said the garden needs 6-8 hours of sunlight. Morning sunlight is best, he said, and heavy shade over the garden is not welcome.

Soil types vary, he said. There are four different soil types in Bell County, he said, and each one must be handled differently.

When using raised beds or containers, he said, don’t fill them with regular garden soil, which is too heavy and doesn’t drain well. You should include some commercial potting soil, he said.

Container gardening requires more watering, he said. In this case, tomatoes should be watered 2-3 times a day during fruit production.

The size of containers should vary according to the plant, he said, with a minimum size of 2 gallons for leafy vegetables, 6-10 gallons for cucumbers and squash and 10-20 gallons for tomatoes.

“Make sure you have drainage holes in the bottom,” he said.

Another gardening tactic is the use of trellises, he said.

“If you don’t have much room, grow up, don’t grow out,” he said.

It is important to select the right plant variety for the area, he said. All kinds of information is available on the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension website, he said.

There will be no garden seminars at the Home and Garden Show today, but the Bell County Master Gardeners booth will be open, said Master Gardener Lou Ann Hight. The group’s 2022 plant sale will be 8 am to noon March 26 at 1605 N. Main St. in Belton.

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