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I tried not to fertilize, hoping to be “organic,” but no luck. It took me a few years to build up a large enough soil base to even grow decent roots. I typically fertilized with a Miracle Grow for Tomatoes to make sure and get the magnesium. I used Epsom salts at planting time to help enhance that necessity in the soil.

Use a good mulch two or three times a year (I work mulch in during the winter months on any part of the garden I’m not actually using.)

Posted: July 23, 2006
Filed in Soil


Texas doesn’t have great soil. In Houston it’s all clay and in the hill country there are a lot of limestone rocks. In both places you’ll need a raised bed of soil to get decent crops. I dragged in bag after bag of composted cow manure and peat. I understand that turkey/chicken manure would have been better, but I couldn’t find any in the hill country. It was sold readily in Houston in most of the dirt farms. I mulch with whatever is locally available—hardwood mulch seemed to work better for me than cedar. All my gardens were raised beds.

The soil in Houston was acidic; in hill country it was alkaline. You may want to have the soil tested; I didn’t bother and guessed wrong a few times before figuring out my soil. You can add coffee grounds to soil to make it more acidic.

In both places, it was necessary to either use Miracle Grow for Tomatoes or Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate Heptahydrate) in order get Magnesium to the plants. Your blossoms will tend to drop without setting if the soil is weak in Magnesium. Just to be clear—Epsom salts are not “salt.” You can buy Epsom salts in most garden stores, but it’s very cheap in drugstores or Wal-Mart. (People use it to soak their feet.) Mix a tablespoon of Epsom salts into a gallon of water and serve to the plant!

Posted: July 22, 2006
Filed in Soil