By Ron Jenkins | Contributor
When we moved to Plano from Davenport, Iowa in 1983, one of the things I was looking forward to is the longer growing season for my vegetable garden obsession.
Things were bigger in Texas. I knew my tomatoes were going to be the size of grapefruits, and my zucchinis were going to be “watermelonish.”
Boy, was I wrong.
What’s with this soil (or lack thereof?)
And the bugs…jeez. Yes, some things are much bigger in Texas.
I graduated from the University of Missouri in agricultural journalism (yes, that is a real degree like my Master of Liberal Studies in environmental sustainability from SMU is as well), so my first call was to Texas A&M Extension Center for advice. dallas.tamu.edu
Their advice…test your soil. So that was step one. And if you want to improve the health of your lawn, trees, and plants, get a soil test as soon as you can.
Step two was to find a great vegetable garden retail outlet. There are several great ones across North Texas.
North Haven Gardens
Since 1951, North Haven Gardens has been serving the Dallas Community as the “go-to” outlet for vegetable gardeners. Their founders, Ralph and Muriel Pinkus, were instrumental in founding the Dallas Arboretum.
Less than four weeks after last October’s devasting tornado, North Haven Gardens was back open serving their huge gardening fan base. As usual, someone quickly asked, “What can I help you with?”
The center also features various other educational opportunities and services including gardening classes and workshops, a Garden Coach Program, delivery and planting, raised bed services, and recycling.
Be sure to check out their plant list for North Texas in the education tab section on their website.
Covington’s is one of the largest retail/wholesale nurseries in Texas, with 18 acres of trees and premium plant material to choose from. Gayle and Joe Covington have been in business since 1973. Their dedication to customer services allows bigger to be better. A big help this spring is the Gardening Guide on their easy-to-use website. Go to the edible gardening section for a great step-by-step instructional guide to growing the best vegetables and fruits in your neighborhood. covingtonnursery.com/gardening-categories/edible-gardening-guide
If you plan to visit Covington soon, bring your best walking shoes. Eighteen acres is about the size of the White House grounds. But no worries, they have guided tours on golf carts. If you are lucky, your driver might be Joe Covington.
Shades of Green
I love places that make you smile. Once you stop into Shades of Green you will know why.
Located on seven acres on the east side of Frisco, according to their website, “Shades of Green is a full-service, family-owned, and operated garden center with rustic charm and a unique vibe. The nursery is nestled under 200-year-old cottonwood trees along a spring-fed creek.” Wow, 200-year-old trees!
Shades of Green, established in 1977, specializes in native perennials but has a great vegetable garden section as well.
You might want to reserve the morning of March 14 for Shades of Green’s free garden clinic: “Planting a Summer Vegetable Garden.”
How about shopping at a place that has been serving Dallas gardeners since 1899? Welcome to Nicholson-Hardie’s.
They have an indoor store at 5725 W. Lovers Lane and an outdoor store at 5060 W. Lovers Lane. Both have an ample supply of plants during the growing season, but the indoor store sells bulk vegetable seed in the same wooden bin from their store of 100 years ago.
One of the very cool things about Redenta’s was that it was founded in 1992 by Ruth Kinler and named after her aunt who was a nun in Siena, Italy.
Kinler wanted to “share the European inﬂuences that formed her love of gardening. We are staffed with fellow gardeners—people who are passionate about plants and gardening and are equally passionate about sharing that knowledge with others.”
Redenta’s is committed to a natural and sustainable approach to gardening and is 100% organic, offering soil amendments and organic solutions to common garden problems. The staff is also made up of garden groupies who love to share their knowledge.