Technically, you can garden year round in San Antonio. In the searing heat of the summer I can harvest okra and melons. Throughout the winter I have lettuce, radishes, spinach, and beets, to name a few. Winter gardens are supposed to be easier than summer gardens. You don’t have to stand around in 100+ degrees under the sweltering sun watering the garden to keep it from wilting. In the summer, strange bugs invade. In the winter, I know the problem bugs, like the cabbage moth that likes to snack on not just my cabbage, but also the leaves of brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.
In order to harvest vegetables before the first frost, which in San Antonio comes in early December, you need to get the seedlings planted by August. The constant heat dries out the ground and makes it hard for seeds to sprout, even if you water morning and afternoon. This year, I tried planting seeds for heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, pickling cukes, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and zucchini. I started them indoors so the dirt could remain moist despite the searing heat.
The seedlings sprouted well in my 82 degree house, but are remained long and spindly with no new leaves. I thought it might be lack of sun (astonishing in San Antonio), but they’ve remained sickly even after I moved them to a shaded area outside. I’ve heard that if a seedling doesn’t start well, it will remain weak and not grow well. Any thoughts on how to start seedlings so they grow into beautiful plants?