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Love those Texas Gardens


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is anyone growing lavender???

i have a beautiful Provence lavender plant... well the foliage is lovely anyway. but it has not bloomed, ever. this is the third season and when it didn't bloom the first season i thought certainly it would the second year, as from what i've read that's typical behavior.

nope, not even a try at a bloom stalk. :blink:

is there a way to prompt blooming? or anyone know what i may need to do? special feeding, or cutting it back... anything?

it's not over watered, it acts healthy and grows fine... small but very bushy and good leaves.

so, any suggestions from the TX group?

on a good note the first Thai bird chiles have ripened and the hot banana peppers too. and various tomatoes are booming along with lots of blooms and some baby tomatoes. the other peppers (the ever-present Tabasco and other hotties) are slower, but still growing up like good green kids. first year for me to try growing tomatillos... and the plants, started from seed, look good so far.

basils are, as always, being very good to me... also the thymes (silver and lemon) and the oreganos, most are now two yrs old, and the new sage. :biggrin:

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 lavender, there is a lavender farm somewhere in your parts that is growing lavender and giving seminars on growing lavender. My sister ran across it. I think this is the link here. I have only been sporadically successful growing lavender here, but I will still probably try one of these days.

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 lavender, there is a lavender farm somewhere in your parts that is growing lavender and giving seminars on growing lavender. My sister ran across it. I think this is the link here. I have only been sporadically successful growing lavender here, but I will still probably try one of these days.

thanks, fifi. that's the first place i checked. i've gotten lavender seeds from them in the past. and their lotion is pretty good too. :wub:

and i'd love to go to one of their lavender seminars! alas, for me, that is not possible. 60+ miles is a bit too far to cane my way to. :raz::laugh:

i'll keep searching, and maybe the flower spikes will appear this year after all... :wink:

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all, first time 'gardener' here. All I have in the name of a garden is a tiny balcony and some pots. I'm also a novice to most herbs, so please forgive my ignorance. I was, however, desperate to have herbs in my gardenening-space this year, so I recently bought some tiny plants. I've put a sprig or two of each in a strawberry planter, which seemed like a good idea to begin with, but now I think the individual openings/spouts are too small to provide much room for vigorous growth (which, I'm wishfully thinking, might happen :rolleyes:) We will see...

Anyway, my actual questions are regarding the varieties of herbs. I would love to get to know the 'classic' varieties of herbs first, and I'm not quite sure if the varieties I have belong to this category. I've added the botanical names if that'll help (you can obviously tell that I'm new to this!) Here's what I have:

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata) I really like its flavor, but I've read (somewhere on eG, where else!) that Provence lavender is the one to have..

Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Greek Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum)

English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Also, I'd appreciate if someone could give me pointers to local sources for the other varieties that might be suggested (plants rather than seeds, as I think I'm late enough in the year and early enough in my experience to begin dabbling in seeds.) I'm in the Richardson area of DFW and the herbs I have now came from Calloway nursery. As if I haven't already asked enough questions, I'd (shamelessly) also like to ask if specific herbs/varieties do or don't do well in Texas summers. As of now, all my plants get full afternoon and evening sun; should I shift some of them to shadier spots as summer progresses?

I really appreciate all the knowledge and enthusiasm here. That's how I got bitten by the bug to start with, and am I thankful for that!

"I look around (the Amazon rainforest) and see a green wall. They (the Machiguenga Indians of Peru) look around and see a supermarket." -Austin Stevens

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Hi there anchita. I have gardened for many years here on the Gulf Coast so some of my experience may translate to where you are. At the moment, I also have only a balconey and some pots to play with.

You have a good start on your varieties. The one thing I would add soonest is rosemary. Having a little bay tree is useful. If you are into Mexican and Tex-Mex it is nice to have a Mexican Oregano. It grows like a weed and dries well.

You also have the same problem that I do, west sun. Around here, when "full sun" is called for, that usually means that some shade in the afternoons and evenings will be appreciated. That full sun thing is usually meant for folks in more northern climes.

Here are some things I have had trouble with both in pots and in the ground:

Thyme - I have had it grow ok in the ground during the cooler weather but when it starts getting hot it dies out. Or it could be that it is just too wet here. I don't know. I haven't tried in pots in more of a shady place.

Tarragon - It just dies like the thyme. A reasonable substitute that grows like a weed is Mexican Mint Marigold.

Mint - It is feast or famine with this stuff. For some reason, my sister and I have had trouble getting peppermint and spearmint going in her yard. When I had my house I had the same problem. But then, the totally worthless apple mint took over and threatened small mammals. If you are in pots, it likes a bit of shade and lots of water.

There may be help out there for a problem that is typical here with pots . . . In the heat of the day, the roots can get too hot. Someone here had that problem with tomatoes on the balconey. When the root temperatures started coming up, they would quit setting fruit. The solution was to plant them in styrofoam coolers! Taking that one step further, I am going to try those pots that are made from urethane foam and look like pottery. That should help by providing some insulation. We'll see. Light colored pots also help.

Let us know what works for you and what doesn't.

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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But then, the totally worthless apple mint took over and threatened small mammals.

:biggrin::biggrin:

Thanks so much for your response, fifi.

I forgot to mention that I do have rosemary; it sits in the big top opening of the strawberry planter. I'll definitely look around for Mexican Oregano and Mexican Mint Marigold.

Good to know about the not-so-'full sun.' I guess I can move the planter from the balcony to the front door, which faces east, so that it can have some shade during higher day temperatures. For the pots that are going to have to stay in the balcony, the urethane foam pots sound like a good idea!

Let's see how I fare through the summer; I'll report my progress as I learn new things about my plants, and as I have more questions. :smile:

"I look around (the Amazon rainforest) and see a green wall. They (the Machiguenga Indians of Peru) look around and see a supermarket." -Austin Stevens

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welcome to the TX gardening thread, anchita! sounds like you have a good start and i would echo fifi's suggestions also. i would add cilantro to the list also, which fifi might not be likely to, as it doesn't appeal much to her. :laugh: and as it goes to seed you can then harvest those... coriander seeds... for more culinary enjoyment.

your rosemary will grow as large as you let it. i have two that are almost the size of a VW bug, each. so if you allow it more space, a bigger pot, it will do fine. it also does not need a lot of water.

in addition to the sweet basil there are other varieties you might like to try... lemon basil and cinnamon basil, as well as Thai basil, would really pump up your herb collection adding great variety in flavor and uses.

fifi, me thinks that perhaps your thyme is getting too much water. mine roasts out here in the Central TX sun all summer and i have no problem with it unless it decides to rain too much, then it will back off some. as mine is in the ground that isn't a major setback and the sun clears that up soon enough. but in pots i'd be especially careful not to overwater or overtend it. some rocks might help you some also, thyme likes a rocky environment.

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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. . . . .

fifi, me thinks that perhaps your thyme is getting too much water. mine roasts out here in the Central TX sun all summer and i have no problem with it unless it decides to rain too much, then it will back off some. as mine is in the ground that isn't a major setback and the sun clears that up soon enough. but in pots i'd be especially careful not to overwater or overtend it. some rocks might help you some also, thyme likes a rocky environment.

Hmmm . . . You have given me an idea. Remember that purple prickley pear that my nephew gave me for Christmas? Well, it has been potted in the rocky sandy stuff from where it came. I just keep forgetting to bring it home from my sister's house. It occurs to me that the environment might be right for thyme. I am gonna try putting some of the low growing stuff in the pot with the pear.

(Yeah, I am one of those people that is a cilantro hater. Tastes like soap to me. The seeds have appeal, though.)

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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. . . . .

fifi, me thinks that perhaps your thyme is getting too much water. mine roasts out here in the Central TX sun all summer and i have no problem with it unless it decides to rain too much, then it will back off some. as mine is in the ground that isn't a major setback and the sun clears that up soon enough. but in pots i'd be especially careful not to overwater or overtend it. some rocks might help you some also, thyme likes a rocky environment.

Hmmm . . . You have given me an idea. Remember that purple prickley pear that my nephew gave me for Christmas? Well, it has been potted in the rocky sandy stuff from where it came. I just keep forgetting to bring it home from my sister's house. It occurs to me that the environment might be right for thyme. I am gonna try putting some of the low growing stuff in the pot with the pear.

i think that sounds about right. the thyme may like a little more water than necessary for your cactus... but i still think they may partner well enough together to be encouraging. a few rocks on the top of the soil around the thyme is well appreciated by them too. that will also help balance out the difference in the cactus/thyme watering preferences. definitely worth a try. :biggrin:

(Yeah, I am one of those people that is a cilantro hater. Tastes like soap to me. The seeds have appeal, though.)

:raz::laugh: yep, i knew that was what you'd say...

well, i was going to post a garden update today anyway so... :rolleyes:

about 500+ wild persimmons on my two trees, 150+ tomatoes growing/ripening at various stages out in the garden... Tabasco, Thai bird chiles, and hot banana peppers showing best of the varieties of hot chiles this year, herbs doing well as always... grapes still coming along. and i hope the grapes and tomatoes are ready soon enough before we leave for 10 days in July for me to get some jelly and salsa done!

assorted herbs picked as i need them right now... lots of lemon thyme and a sprig of rosemary today for a chicken tonight.

last night's veg pick, we're just beginning to scoop tomatoes now... a few lemon boy tomatoes, a something red tomato which is the only one at this stage the rest are still growing green babies, not sure which variety... hot bananas gone to a hot and sweet vermillion, and a handful of bird chiles (not in pic). :wub:

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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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My small garden is in it's second year. Last year I got a few tomatoes here and there, some chilies (mainly habanero), and herbs.

This year I am happy to say that it is doing much better. I picked those a couple of days ago:

gallery_5404_94_7358.jpg

The cherry tomatoes are definitly coming back next year, they are doing very good and they taste amazing! My only problem with tomatoes, is that I cannot seem to keep their branches from leaning and/or breaking under the weight and wind. I used some cages thsi year, but I guess they are not good enough. Maybe tougher ones are in order for next season.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Elie,

My sister makes tomato cages from the 4x4 reinforcing wire that is used in concrete for driveways and patios and such. You need a good wire chomper, like in big, and some big pliers and gloves. But, you can fabricate some pretty substantial tomato cages with this stuff. You need to use some really strong anchoring devices into the ground to keep them from dumping over when a thunderbumper comes through. Your garden results are looking good. Don't be discouraged. I usually takes aboout three seasons to figure out what works best where and really get the soil going.

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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My small garden is in it's second year. Last year I got a few tomatoes here and there, some chilies (mainly habanero), and herbs.

This year I am happy to say that it is doing much better. I picked those a couple of days ago:

gallery_5404_94_7358.jpg

The cherry tomatoes are definitly coming back next year, they are doing very good and they taste amazing! My only problem with tomatoes, is that I cannot seem to keep their branches from leaning and/or breaking under the weight and wind. I used some cages thsi year, but I guess they are not good enough. Maybe tougher ones are in order for next season.

Elie

garden goodies are looking great, Elie... bravo!

i'd agree with fifi on the tomato cages. we have a combo of some similar to those we constructed and also some of the more common ones, but in the jumbo size. hey, when we bought the place there were about 15 cages here and i just couldn't see not using the freebies. :wink: so i also use two of those cages for some tomato plants, side by side and train the branches to use the second as they grow. so you needn't neccesarily abandon the cages you have.

our tomatoes and peppers are just booming! we have far less variety in our veg garden this year, due to me being gone and arriving home severely ill, causing a late start. but on the other hand perhaps it is not bad to let some of the plot rest until fall garden time, which i do want to attempt this year. and i still have some plants i started as seedlings that are begging to be put in the ground so that will stagger the harvest too. :biggrin:

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 can add something about the mesh tomato cages. I always used the 6 foot. Cut it into a 6 foot diameter cage( I know, sounds big, but hear me out). Plant 6-8 indeterminate tomatoes in circle, well spaced, and around a circular central watering moat. Water well till established, then let em go nuts. The size of the mesh allows for reaching in to pick.

Oh, yeah. When you are making the cage, any good wirecutter will work. What you want to do is cut away the verticals on either side, 1 or two rows back, to make a bendable tab to connect the two edges. And for the anchors, you do the same on two rows of bottom squares, cutting away the horizonal connectors all the way around, and leaving about 10 or 12 spiky anchors for digging in the ground with.

One last thing. I always made mine from the mesh left over at concrete building pad sites. This was rusty but that never affected the plants (actually I don't believe I've ever seen it shiny) and really, I don't believe anything should be shiny in a garden.

Hope this helps. :cool: Garden on.

I'd better edit to add that the concrete pads were at sites I was putting up a structure on, so I had paid for the materials.I thought I'd better clarify so nobody thought you could just go and help yourself to some. Actually a concrete contractor would be the place to call and ask for some, because it comes on big rolls.

Edited by Mabelline (log)
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Another fun thing to do with those cages is to plant them with morning glories or moon vines. They make towers of blossoms.

Anyway, I just got back from the hill country, Blanco to be exact. My sister and I went to pick lavendar. (Well, actually, she picked. I took pictures.) Anyone growing lavendar out there? It seems that there was some kind of difficulty with a fungus amongus last year. At any rate, none of the lavendar farms are all that big but are fun to visit.

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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  • 2 weeks later...
Another fun thing to do with those cages is to plant them with morning glories or moon vines. They make towers of blossoms.

Anyway, I just got back from the hill country, Blanco to be exact. My sister and I  went to pick lavendar. (Well, actually, she picked. I took pictures.) Anyone growing lavendar out there? It seems that there was some kind of difficulty with a fungus amongus last year. At any rate, none of the lavendar farms are all that big but are fun to visit.

barely growing lavender here. it's growing, but just one plant. she does have some blooms for the first time thugh.

yeah, the big lavender farm out around Fredericksburg is closed now, past their picking season. i still want to try to get out there... next year.

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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Luckily, the crazy neighbor never got around to spraying her "poison ivy" this year (more accurately identified to the rest of us as mustang grape vines :wacko: ), so I had plenty of grapes make their way to my side of the fence. However, this heat spell and a month without rain was doing it's best to turn them to raisins on the vine, so I was forced to pick them this weekend ahead of schedule.

About a quarter of them were a nice deep purple, almost black, but the majority were a lighter color, and some even had a few specs of green. After taking my bucket of grapes inside for de-stemming in the air conditioner...

gallery_17380_1452_132821.jpg

gallery_17380_1452_87014.jpg

... I decided to call mom and see what my options are for them (I don't have any prior experience working with mustang grapes). We decided on jelly, so the first step was making the grape juice.

So into the pan they went...

gallery_17380_1452_72491.jpg

After bringing them to a boil and then simmering about 10 minutes, I had a very different looking pan. I was surprised at how light the color became...

gallery_17380_1452_23973.jpg

Then I ran them through a strainer with cheese cloth to separate the pulp from the juice...

gallery_17380_1452_84013.jpg

...and then I strained once more...

gallery_17380_1452_61673.jpg

and walla...grape juice...I think. :unsure:

By this point though, the greater part of the afternoon had been spent, and I didn't feel like starting the actual jelly making process. Plus, I doubt there would be any interest in watching this jelly-makin' newbie go through what appears to be a pretty basic process. Although I imagine the mess I expect might have some comedic value. :wink:

So, what do you all do differently when harvesting your mustang grapes? I'm making some notes to improve my "method" for next year, so any hints are most welcome.

- Nacho

P.S. Fifi, thanks for teasing us with pictures from your new Nikon D70. I couldn't stand it anymore and had to go buy my own. :wink:

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I don't think I have ever encountered Mustang grapes. Are they anything like the scuppernons from back home in NW Florida?

Camera talk, I have been eyeing one of those babies for a while now.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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  • 5 months later...

Do you have any seeds laying around? The Covington, LA farmers market overseer dude, Bo Gallup, has had a great idea and I thought that some of you Texas Gardeners, and any of your friends, might like to help out.

Thanks.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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  • 4 months later...

BUMP.

Visiting the farmers markets in the springtime always gets me motivated to start my container garden along again each year. Last weekend, I scored about an 18" tall bay tree loaded with leaves from one vendor for $10...A pretty good bargain I thought since the last one I bought was ~$5, was about 5" tall with 4 leaves, and it wouldn't grow (it had to be the plant...it couldn't have been something I was doing wrong). And now, after reading the much earlier posts about bay trees, it will be moved to a spot in less direct sunlight as soon as I get home. :wink:

I was also excited to come across some kaffir lime plants. The two that I bought are now potted and on the deck next to the other herbs. Anyone else have experience with these thai lime plants here in Austin or the surrounding areas? Is full sun the right place for these?

I've already used some of the leaves in a green thai curry last week, and am hopeful that I will actually get some fruit off of them as well.

Oh, and I'd like to take a moment of silence for my dearly departed mustang grape vines. ... ... .... :sad:

After finally convincing one neighbor that the vines were not her dreaded poison ivy, the other neighbor finally did them in. It turns out the vines made their contact with the earth along her fence line, and when she decided to replace her yard fence last October, she hacked them all up b/c she didn't like the look of them. So now I'm left with dead grape vine woven into the branches of the tree, too high to pull down even on a ladder.

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I have a question. We inherited a peach tree and a fig tree with our house in Plano(one of the big selling points, next to the gi-normous kitchen :biggrin:). This is the first year we're in the house to see the peaches and figs through. Any recommendations on how to keep the critters away? Any special other treatment involved, or just let 'em go? When should we be looking for the peaches to be ready?

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I don't have any experience with peach trees personally, but this article says you don't want to just let 'em go.

Figs, on the other hand,...we usually leave them alone and still get a ton of fruit (this is at my brother's place in South Texas). Here's more info, if you are so inclined.

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  • 1 year later...

(Cough!) Just dusted this off to b**** and moan with anyone whose garden took a hit like mine earlier this week during the hailstorm in the Austin/R.Rock area. The lord giveth and taketh away, and then hits you in the head with an ice rock while you run about like an idiot with sheets for the tomato plants.

Failing that, I'd love to hear how any neighbor's dirt patch grows--y'all got reds yet? Straight or crooked necks?

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