Spring is in the air at Fort Worth’s favorite garden center, where seasoned gardeners and rookies alike find inspiration and guidance.
Spring is in the air, and with it the drive to go outdoors, enjoy the sunshine and get your hands dirty in the garden. Whether you were born with a green thumb, or become “all thumbs” the moment you touch a spade, Archie’s Gardenland has the tools you need to become a successful home-harvester.
Family-owned and operated since 1934, Archie’s Gardenland occupies an expansive and lush plot at 6700 Z Boaz Place. As any visitor to the store knows, Archie’s Gardenland lives up to its name as a visual cornucopia of plant life, with multiple greenhouses, hordes of seedlings, armies of trees, and a retail selection to make any big-box retailer blush. Owned by Rick and Randall Archie, whose great-grandfather, N.E. Archie Sr., started the business, Archie’s Gardenland exists to both spur and satisfy the craving to plant that sprouts up in the hearts and minds of Fort Worth homeowners.
Though the expanse of Archie’s Gardenland can intimidate the uninitiated, the helpful and enthusiastic staff are quick to answer any and all questions. A primary question, however, is where to begin? If you’ve yet to plant a spring garden, or have begun projects that didn’t quite go as expected, you need more than a shopping list to realize your botanical dreams. Archie’s Gardenland — and Randall himself — are here to help, with tips and guidelines to help your garden flower.
Spring Planting Tips
The first key to a successful spring garden is to know when to plant. Even after a temperate winter, North Texas gardeners must remain vigilant for a late-season freeze.
“Be cautious of what the weather is doing in early March,” says Randall. “Once you see a good 10-day forecast without frost or freezing temperatures, we recommend transplanting some 4-inch plants into the ground.”
You can find a huge selection of small plants ready to transplant at Archie’s. Luckily, once you’ve checked the weather and gotten your new friends safely into the soil, the previous months’ sunny days will work in your favor.
“The good news is that we’ve had a lot of sunshine this winter, so our local growers should be very happy,” says Randall. “Last winter it was really cloudy, so we had a lot of stuff that didn’t want to wake up.”
For many gardeners, “when to plant” is all the guidance they need; for the rest of us, simple instructions to put the sprouts into the ground aren’t enough. How do we know the ground’s ready and how, exactly, do we actually plant?
“You’ll want to work the soil beforehand and add amendments early so that they’ll break down as the plants need nutrients,” says Randall. “Don’t plant too deep, and keep the plants at the same level they’re at in their existing buckets.”
Once your plants are in the ground, give them a good soaking to help them establish. After all, there’s nothing quite as disheartening as a row of small, dead plants. A few wilted or fallen leaves will occur naturally as the plants acclimate to their new home. You’ll also want to make sure to give them pretty of room to grow.
“Make sure to give your plants adequate space,” says Randall. “A lot of gardeners come in and get excited and will overcrowd their garden. Giving them enough space makes for stronger plants.”
If you worry about under or overwatering your seedling progeny, Randall recommends a simple, yet effective tool: your finger. If your plants look a little sad, stick your finger down into the soil approximately 3 to 6 inches. If the soil feels moist, then you’ve likely overwatered the plants and should let them dry out. If the soil feels dry and doesn’t stick to your finger, give the plants some water.
If you’ve gone to the trouble of planting a spring garden, it’s natural to want a reward for your efforts. While flowers and decorative plants provide great landscape accents, edibles are the vogue for the upcoming garden season.
“I’ve noticed more gardeners handing over a larger portion of the landscape to edible gardening,” says Randall. “Then’s been a demand in our customer base for herbs, vegetables and fruits, which I see as related to the locally-sourced and organic food movement.”
If you appreciate the benefits of locally-grown produce, you can’t get more local than your own backyard. Edible gardening brings other benefits as well, including the sense of satisfaction that comes from eating something that you’ve grown yourself.
“Folks are beginning to figure out it’s great to get away from the daily business, get into the landscape and watch things grow,” says Randall.
As for what to plant, ask yourself what it is you like to eat. Berries, including strawberries and blackberries, are easy to maintain, resilient to temperature fluctuations, and come back year after year. If you want to plant a tree, Randall recommends the fig. Easy to care for, a fig tree produces a heap of fruit and has broad, eye-catching foliage that complements the landscape. As for vegetables and herbs:
“Vining spinach options are almost indestructible,” says Randall. “You could plant Malabar spinach on the moon and it would do just fine. On the herb side of things, think about some recipes you like. Chimichurri sauce goes great with steaks or baked potatoes, and its main ingredients, parsley and cilantro, grow well in the backyard.”
What’s New at Archie’s
Now that you’re appraised of how and what to plant this spring, you’ll want to make one (or several) trips to Archie’s Gardenland to stock up on seedlings, soil amendments and other supplies. While you’re there, you might find your attention drawn to a new component of Archie’s Gardenland: handcrafted outdoor furniture.
“It’s all locally-made, outdoor tough and exclusive to us,” says Randall. “We wanted to have something unique for our customers, and there was a big demand for outdoor furniture.”
Randall noticed that a lot of outdoor furniture simply cannot withstand the weather extremes of North Texas. Because of this, he contracted a welder with a local ornamental iron company to produce original, rugged and attractive pieces.
“I call it ‘modern industrial-meets-Fort Worth backyard’ style,” says Randall. “It’s new for us this year, and we plan to offer things like fire pits, oversize benches and a smaller, adirondack-style chair.”
Regular shoppers will attest to Archie’s Gardenland’s reputation as a hive for workshops and special events. Keep an eye on the website (www.archiesgardenland.com) for workshop schedules and announcements. Want to organize your own gardening workshop for a group of friends? Archie’s is always open to hosting events, so give the store a call to check availability. Or, better yet, just stop on by, grab some plants, get inspired, and leave with a greener thumb.