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Love those Texas Gardens


lovebenton0
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It's that time, our short winter is almost gone and our hands are itching to get into the soil again. :biggrin:

What are your garden plans this year? What are some of your stand by favorites? Great successes? New plants you are wanting to try?

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Oh... goody goody goody. Our very own Texas garden thread. :biggrin:

First, I have to say that I am not gardening in my own garden this year since I am still in the apartment making very slow progress on my house. However, my sister's and a friend's garden will allow me to participate.

We were just discussing where to plant the chard, lettuces, parsley, and we will try to get some thyme to grow. We want to put bunch in the freezer before it croaks in the heat. That is as far as we have gotten on the cool weather stuff.

We grow two varieties of chard, an Italian heirloom white and Vulcan red, when we can find it. I grew the Bright Lights chard one year and found it pretty puny. I won't do that again. I have also had a hard time finding Vulcan but I think we found a substitute. I try to plant the chard where it will be back-lit in the evening sun so I can enjoy it. It is usually mixed in as part of my regular flower beds. I like mixing veggies in with flowers in the "French" way.

It is a little early yet for the morning glories and moon vine. This year we are going to try to re-establish a childhood memory... four o'clocks. I found some seeds for pure white that will look and smell lovely on moonlit evenings.

Can't wait to hear from all of our gritty fingered friends. Thanks for starting this, Judith.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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bought artichokes, potatoes and spinach, and plenty of heirloom tomato seeds. Ok, and like a madwoman, I had to get a six-pack of celebrity toms that will doubtless suffer an early death, but I had to do it. It's a sickness with me and tomato plants. Anyone have suggestions as to how to raise a healthy 'choke in these parts?

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My garden:

Rosemary

Sage

Flat-leaf chives

Basil

Dill ( for the butterfly pupae)

Butterfly weed

Gregg's Blue Mist ( for the butterflies)

Bluebonnets...hopefully...I planted a pound of seeds in November.

No fruits . No veggies. I've given up on watering. I'm into fauna as opposed to flora now.

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I'm with Foodie52 - my landscape consists of Xeric plants that I'm teaching to love my benign neglect - or else they get ripped out and replaced with one of my success stories - and herbs - parsley, a Mexican marigold mint that's going on seven years now, an oregano that I replaced a couple of years ago and is currently about three feet wide, some garlic chives, a puny marjoram, three thymes that do well year round - it's great in winter soups and with roasted pieces of buternut squash and shallots - and two wonderful rosemary bushes that produce thick leaves on sturdy stems[one's Gorizia and the other is either Arp or Tuscan Blue]. Regular and Thai basil will come after it warms up a bit.

I quit veggie gardening when I got tired of spending my time picking bugs off and watering the heck out of them come July and August. I'd rather spend my time and money at Boggy Creek and Central Market....

One of my new finds last year that was covered with bees much of the summer and fall was Blue Shrub Sage [salvia Ballotiflora] - got to about 4x4x4 with delicate little blue flowers. Found it at the Wildflower Center sale, which I probably won't do again because it was too much of a madhouse, and I can get most of what they have there at Barton Springs or the Natural Gardener.

I'm thinking of trying lemon verbena again.

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We have the opposite problem. We fight flooding rains and really high humidity. Dew points of 78 are not unusual. That is why some of the herbs like thyme and parsley tend to melt down in summer.

I like to keep fennel around for the black swallowtails. One year, I had a newly hatched butterfly drying its wings every morning for weeks. Then I transplanted some wild maypop for fritilaries. BIG MISTAKE! Can you spell noxious weed? Some folks say that I sold the house because I couldn't get rid of it.

I had an African Blue basil plant for three years. It was actually a big shrub. It didn't taste very good but the bees and butterflies loved it and it was very pretty.

Click here and put it on steroids to an eight foot bush. Mine was darker green and purple as well. The flowers are long lasting and said to be good sprinkled on salads.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Welcome y'all. Great responses going here. I would love to try some artichokes, too. Anybody have a success story there? How about suggestions for a good brussel sprout variety? :huh:

For most of my yard garden areas I have to agree the Xeric plants are the way to go. :biggrin: Lantana, honey suckle, and various aloes, yuccas, and century plants dot the yard. There's a pink salvia by the back deck that was a very small plant when we bought the house five years ago. It is now 3x3x3, produces flowers nearly all year, and the hummingbirds love it! We're outside Autsin, to the west, between the lakes. Puts us in a strange spot for rain. Often the showers just split around us and we can see it coming down close by, just not on us.

But, we're still addicts to the veggie garden, and it is one of the activities I am able to do. Sitting down to plant, weed, fuss, and harvest, I can accomplish some wonders out there, and mr lovebenton0 is great for his heavier part of the labor. :cool: We have a thing with tomato plants too, and have to slap ourselves to keep from planting too many to maintain, usually manage to hold it to three or four varieties, a dozen plants. Ichiban eggplant. Louisiana Velvet okra

Peppers: jalapeno, cayenne, and both hot and sweet bananas, are the standard, then every year I try something new. Habaneros have been a great success here, especially the Red Dutch. I stopped putting them in when we were giving away all we could, and I had put up enough to last us for three or four years. The Anaheims last year were better than I had expected, large, very prolific, and quite tasty.

Thai peppers do well here, but are better in the yard than the veggie garden area. I have had good success growing them in a rock walled bed around a crepe myrtle with basils, and chives. The Thais are so prolific that I only need a few plants, and dry the peppers every year as I do the cayennes and MX chiles. This year my Tabascos, which are also planted close to the house in a rock walled bed around a crepe myrtle, are leafless, but still green. So these plants may make it through to another year. Although perennials in their native area, they will freeze out up here. They are so beautiful, colorful, and tasty that I just plant new ones every spring now. They are a recent success for the last two years. :biggrin:

My two rosemarys are about 5x6x6, and don't care if we water them or not. The fennel comes back bigger every spring, and grows often most of the winter also around here. I love it for the butterflies, too.

Society garlic in the front yard, by the irises, and wild onions there, and in and around all the rock walls increase every year.

My biggest surprise last year was a patch of assorted spring greens that continued to grow through the rigors of a Central TX summer. I pinched leaves as I wanted for salad or to toss into a stir fry all summer, and finally pulled the plants the night before our first freeze in late November.

Anyone growing bay leaf trees? I have two, still potted, that are about four feet tall now, and would love to make a spot for them in my yard. But I have babied them since they were eight inches high . . .

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I had a bay leaf tree that I left at the house. It was only about five feet high. I considered putting it in a pot and hauling it with me but the poor thing was just butt ugly. No matter how hard I tried to prune it into loveliness, it perversely persisted in wanting to be ugly.

Then I started reading about the different types of bay. You would see a recipe that said "Don't use California Bay." Huh? So what DO you want me to use? Then some mentions of Turkish Bay. Uh... OK... Now I am confused. We just used to snatch a branch when we found one in the woods and bring it home. Since I was now not even sure what my ugly tree was (I bought it at a nursery) I decided to leave it to its fate.

I will be researching the various species of bay before I get one to plant at the house. (You can't have a house without a bay tree.) I want the one that is indigenous to the woods of the south since that is the type of cooking that I do the most.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I'm with Foodie52 - my landscape consists of Xeric plants that

I quit veggie gardening when I got tired of spending my time picking bugs off and watering the heck out of them come July and August. I'd rather spend my time and money at Boggy Creek and Central Market....

I'm thinking of trying lemon verbena again.

Ahh, mademoiselles, it pains me to hear you give up on the vegetables. Buy a rain barrel or two--you'd get your money's worth right now, and if you get them at the time which the utility office sells them, you get a rebate. With vegetables, teach them the way to grow, and water once weekly, ever so slow. plant a brigade of cheerful marigolds around the toms, sink them up to their necks in coffee cans, and I guarantee you'll eliminate everything except the grasshoppers. That's where netting comes into play. Yes, it's work, but I think y'all are more than up to it.

Playing at the fields of veggies--can't imagine anything more heavenly on a sticky Texas afternoon. That must be why I'm still an Austonian after so many beastly summers; that and the payoff of a warm tomato in the hand, come first of June.

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Anyone growing bay leaf trees? I have two, still potted, that are about four feet tall now, and would love to make a spot for them in my yard. But I have babied them since they were eight inches high . . .

I do. But I, too, have it potted. I haul it inside, then out, then back in, according to the weather. Friends have tried to grow them outside here, but it seems that in the summer, they burn up in the heat. Probably the variety, as fifi says.

And Jess, loved your description of putzing around in your garden. All I have is the deck on my condo, but I did have quite a container garden there. We do have a great farmer's market up here, though, with Angel Valley Organic Farms coming every Saturday morning to sell their wares. When I'm in town, which is not often these days, I am one of their best customers.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Anyone growing bay leaf trees? I have two, still potted . . .

I do. But I, too, have it potted. I haul it inside, then out, then back in, according to the weather. Friends have tried to grow them outside here, but it seems that in the summer, they burn up in the heat. Probably the variety, as fifi says.

So, what area are you in, Jaymes? And you fifi? I started my bays out on the front porch, in the western blast of the summer sun, and they were fine there as babies. Then a good gardening friend told me she kept hers in dappled light under her pecan trees so they wouldn't burn. That advice, combined with the fact that we don't sit out in the blast, but lounge on the back deck under the live oak ourselves, and I wanted to enjoy the bays where I would see them, prompted me to move them to the shady east side of the house. Now, the bays are getting tall, and lovely. They get much bigger and we won't be able to haul them in and out. They are due for new pots as it is. :rolleyes:

Anybody in the Austin area go out to Marbridge to get your plants for the spring? We have been going out there for five years now, picking up the majority of our plants from them. They have a nice selection of herbs and veggies. I think mid-week is best for them. Any other suggestions on suppliers you really like?

Good reminder on the marigold barrier, jess. I used to plant them around my garden plot years ago when I was out in the Sandy Creek area around Bastrop. :biggrin: Maybe they will help my tomatoes this year. That and a load of good dirt. :laugh:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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So, what area are you in, Jaymes?

Northwest of Austin. On the lake.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Anyone have suggestions as to how to raise a healthy 'choke in these parts?

I had one that I babied along for a couple of years. In the summer, it died back and looked really scraggly; in the fall, it bounced back and gave me a few artichokes. But it was such a struggle and the 'chokes were so puny that I gave up.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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So, what area are you in, Jaymes?

Northwest of Austin. On the lake.

We're down between the lakes, just off 620. Do you get that split around you effect with the rain, too? :blink:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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So, what area are you in, Jaymes?

Northwest of Austin. On the lake.

We're down between the lakes, just off 620. Do you get that split around you effect with the rain, too? :blink:

Nope. I'm in Lago, up high on a cliff overlooking the lake. When the rain comes, it comes directly across the lake towards me, in a huffy, blustering, flashing fury. It's absolutely gorgeous.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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We're down between the lakes, just off 620. Do you get that split around you effect with the rain, too?  :blink:

Nope. I'm in Lago, up high on a cliff overlooking the lake. When the rain comes, it comes directly across the lake towards me, in a huffy, blustering, flashing fury. It's absolutely gorgeous.

We've been caught out fishing in that, wishing some of it was dropping down on our tomatoes. :laugh:

And gorgeous it is.

Speaking of tomatoes . . . what varieties are everyone's favorites for your area? We grew some beefsteaks as big as my head three years ago, never got them that big again. Anyone grow the little yellow pear tomatoes? They just died out on us the last two years, after being prolific and healthy the two years before that.

Edited by lovebenton0 (log)

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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On the subject of tomatoes that are good in Texas:

Porter Pink - I understand that after the Porter Seedsmen all died in Stephensville, they tried to improve the Porter with limited success. But I recommend any of their seedstock or plants, because they are GOOD!

Wilhite Seeds in Poolville Texas has an excellent Texas Grown program. Get their catalogue...

Onion sets definitely from Brown's Omaha Plant Farm in Omaha, TX (duh). These are beautiful starts, believe me.www.bopf.com

You asked about the lightbulbs, the yellow pears are stupendacular! I have always had extreme success by transplanting about 6 to 8 plants in a circle about 5 feet in diameter, and caging it with a circle of wire mesh (for pouring concrete) about 6 feet in diameter. It's 5 feet high. The tomatoes will be SOOO good after they have grown themselves some shade. Tomato is the true crop that thrives on neglect! I read on another thread lovebenton0, that you used some back-fence grapes. They are mustang grapes, no? Those grapes make phenominal wine, jams, jellies, and preserves. I really miss those grapes, as well as the good time spent out chasing them down! Lucky, LUCKY you, girl!

One more thing. There's a GOOD roma-which the old fellers called sheeps' cods- that'll make you an excellent paste tomato- you can get a lot of success off'n them, too.

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I am currently in the Clear Lake area south of Houston. The new house will be on the bay in San Leon. We are really zone 9 down here. Actually, IH-10 is pretty close to the line between 8 and 9. On the San Leon peninsula we are probably a 9.5 if there were such a thing. That is because of the surrounding bay water. I have seen huge plumerias and such in some yards. I will be planting the bay tree somewhere under the pecan tree or the oak tree. Wild in the woods, they are most commonly found as an understory tree, but they are sometimes at the edges of clearings so they can take some sun.

I am clueless on tomatoes. I will ask my sister. I just got a look at our friend's proposed garden plot for us to play with. Picture an area about 30x40 where she has tossed piles of leaves (she has lots of trees) for the last 6 or 7 years. We kicked back some leaves. OMG! Inches of the most wonderful leaf mold with big old earthworms sticking their heads up to say howdy. It is on the south side of her garage and gets just the right sun. We are drooling.

The downside of gardening vicariously at my sister's and my friend's place is I will miss the morning tour of the garden to see what is going on. That was always my favorite time of day. But, I am looking forward to some good veggies.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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On the subject of tomatoes that are good in Texas:

  Porter Pink - I understand that after the Porter Seedsmen all died in Stephensville, they tried to improve the Porter with limited success. But I recommend any of their seedstock or plants, because they are GOOD!

 

  You asked about the lightbulbs, the yellow pears are stupendacular! I have always had extreme success by transplanting about 6 to 8 plants in a circle about 5 feet in diameter, and caging it with a circle of wire mesh (for pouring concrete) about 6 feet in diameter. It's 5 feet high. The tomatoes will be SOOO good after they have grown themselves some shade. Tomato is the true crop that thrives on neglect!

I read on another thread lovebenton0, that you used some back-fence grapes. They are mustang grapes, no? Those grapes make phenominal wine, jams, jellies, and preserves. I really miss those grapes, as well as the good time spent out chasing them down! Lucky, LUCKY you, girl!

  One more thing. There's a GOOD roma-which the old fellers called sheeps' cods- that'll make you an excellent paste tomato- you can get a lot of success off'n them, too.

Thanks, Mabelline. :biggrin: We'll have to try those Porter Pinks. The first two years here the lightbulbs were so prolific and delicious we ate them by the handful, every day, and I put up several jars of fine golden salsa. They were always a guaranteed bumper crop out on Sandy Creek. I'll try your circle suggestion this year. We always caged them individually, and maybe they will shade each other better in a circle. We grew some golden Romas last year that were bright orange, meaty flesh, hardly any seed jelly inside. Fabulous. Hope to find those again, and I'll be looking for the sheep's cods.

Yeah, we are fortunate to have about 15 feet of Mustangs on our back fence, that do make the most luscious deep red violet grape jelly. I can count on 15-20 pint jars every summer. (Why don't we have a "yum" smilie? :laugh: )

Fifi, good tip on the bay leaf tree. I might have what my Mr calls a watzat? tree in just the right spot to chaperone the bay. Close to one of our rock walls it holds the moisture, is down one level from the garden, and gets some shade, some sun during the day. Think I'll try setting the potted trees out there soon and see if they like the place. :cool:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Woo Hoo! I am in the picture business!

This is a bunch of lemon grass growing in my sister's back yard. We are wondering if this is the typical size. There have been some heavy frosts and everything else looks scruffy but this thing keeps soldiering on. The flamingo is there for scale only and should not be construed to be an example of our refined tastes. :wink:

i2505.jpg

This isn't exactly gardening but you might want to check out this puzzling citrus tree that is being looked at on the Preserved Lemons thread. Pictures to be posted soon.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Speaking of tomatoes . . . what varieties are everyone's favorites for your area? We grew some beefsteaks as big as my head three years ago, never got them that big again.

Beefsteaks are excellente in this zone! Also early and prolific are Celebrity and Early Girl. Jaymes and I began lecturing the neighbors over on the General/Garden thread a couple of years ago, and she had the best patio gardener tip ever: Beer coolers. Keeps even the lightbulbs/yellow pears from fryin' up in the dog days of July and August. Dear Spouse liked referring to last year's crop as the "Budweiser Co-Op".

This year I'm seeding some San Marzanos that I picked up at Central Groc. in New Orleans. The packets say they are the original Italian paste Roma; odds are I've been sold some magic beans, but it is the prettiest little seed package I've ever seen.....

And a body should try okra of any variety, because they lovelovelove the heat, and will withstand a little neglect.

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I just KNEW that okra would raise its pointy little head. :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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And a body should try okra of any variety, because they lovelovelove the heat, and will withstand a little neglect.

However, a stern word of warning here.

You'd better understand that if you try growing okra here in Texas, you are in serious danger of actually winding up with some.

:laugh:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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We moved to our new home froma n apartment this past summer and I am happy to report that I planted my first veggies about a week ago and they are already sprouting. I have Radiches, beets, carrots and sweet peas. I also have mint, rosemary and basil. I am planning on expanding my herb collection to have thyme and several others.

So far two fruit trees have taken up residence in the backyard. A Meyer Lemon one that is already blossoming, and a black turkish fig that is sprouting nicely but is probably a couple of years away from fruits.

For the summer 2 main items will take over the small garden: tomatoes and peppers.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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