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Above: Nasturtiums, Watercress, Lavender, Fennel, and Broccoli

Gardening in North Central Texas is enough to make you throw away your trowel.  Our summers are hot enough for a blast furnace.  Our winter chill can freeze pipes and coat trees with ice.  We’re pummeled with spring storms and hail, but when we most need the rain, not a cloud is on the horizon.  Dallas’ unforgiving black clay forms clods hard as rocks and is so alkaline, its pH is off the chart.

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ shares our journey through the triumphs and missteps of gardening in our North Texas heat, clay soil, limited water, and high alkalinity.  In the world of gardening, there is always a story to be told and sage advice to share.  As we dig, trim, harvest, and cook, we’ll give you the best information we can gather from our “hands on” work in the Earth-Kind/WaterWise Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road in Dallas.

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ is written by Dallas County Master Gardeners, volunteers trained by the AgriLife Extension Service, an agency of Texas A&M University.

Recipes Using Honey



The Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichel


Honey cake is traditionally served during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration, when honey symbolizes the sweetness of the year to come.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

1 cup honey, preferably buckwheat

2/3 cup vegetable oil

½ cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

2 large eggs

¼ cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbl apple juice or cider

Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9×5-inch loaf pan well and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium bowl.  Whisk together honey, oil, and coffee in another bowl until well combined.

Beat together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed for 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low, add honey mixture and apple juice, and mix until blended, about 1 minute.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Finish mixing batter with a rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl (batter will be thin).

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes more.  Cool on a rack for 1 hour.



Iced Honey Lemon Tea


1 quart cold water

¾ cup fresh lemon juice

4 to 6 tablespoons honey

2 cups ice cubes

1 lemon, seeded and sliced thinly (optional)

Fresh sprigs lavender or a handful of lemon verbena or mint leaves, torn into pieces


1.  Combine the water, lemon juice, and honey in a large pitcher and stir to dissolve the honey.

2.  Add the ice cubes and stir to combine.  Taste and add more lemon or honey, if needed.

3.  Add the lemon slices and lavender, lemon verbena, or mint.

Yield:  Makes 4 servings.


Honey Beer Bread

Honey Beer Bread



3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey

1 can beer

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed.

4.  Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan.  Spoon the batter into the pan then pour the remainder of the butter of top.  Use a pastry brush to spread it around.

5.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Yield:  One loaf.


Goat Cheese Hk cropped

Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Tart Cherries and Sage

Chef Jerry Traunfeld, author of The Herbal Kitchen, says that each year he counts the days to cherry season, because he can’t wait to put this dish on the menu at The Herbfarm Restaurant in Washington. Tart cherries, also called sour or pie cherries, are a very different fruit from sweet cherries, such as Bings. Raw, they have a pucker-your-mouth sour flavor, but when cooked and sweetened they have the bright intense cherry pie flavor that sweet cherries can never express. You can make this dish with sweet cherries, but the taste will be quite different. You might have to search a little for fresh tart cherries and fresh pasta sheets. We finally found tart cherries in the frozen food section at Central Market after several repeat trips. As for the fresh pasta sheets, they can be found in most groceries in the refrigerated section with other fresh pastas and labeled lasagna sheets. Be encouraged, your searching will reward you. This is a lovely dish that can be offered as the beginning of a multicourse dinner or romantic supper or the main dish for a special luncheon or brunch.



2 ounces soft mild goat cheese (1/2 cup)

½ cup whole milk ricotta

½ cup hot water

3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup very small sage leaves, or larger sage leaves cut into ¼-inch strips

12 ounces tart (sour or pie) cherries, pitted

1 ½ tablespoons mild honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Eight 4-inch squares of fresh pasta


1. Heat oven to 150 degrees F or its lowest temperature, then turn it off.  Crumble the goat cheese into a small bowl, stir in the ricotta, and put it in the oven to warm.

2.  Put the hot water and ½ tablespoon of the butter in a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish and place it in the oven also (this is for holding the pasta once it’s cooked).  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3.  Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the sage leaves in a medium skillet over medium heat and stir until the sage leaves wilt, then turn a darker green color, about 2 minutes.  Add the cherries, honey and salt, and toss them over the heat until the cherry skins pop and they release a small amount of juice, about 3 minutes.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoon butter to the pan and stir, still over the heat, until it melts and incorporates into the sauce.  Remove the pan from the heat.

4.  Boil the pasta squares until they are tender but firm, usually 2 to 3 minutes.  Lift them out of the water with a skimmer and slip them into the warm water and butter in the pie plate.

5. For assembly:  Lift 4 of the pasta squares from the dish and lay them out on a piece of parchment paper or on a baking sheet (this is easy to do with your hands if you wear disposable latex gloves).  Spread a tablespoon of the warm goat cheese in the center of each square and fold them in half on the diagonal.  Transfer the triangles in pairs to warm dinner plates.  Fill the second batch of pasta squares the same way.  Spoon the cherries and sauce over the handkerchiefs and serve right away.


Yield: 4 servings.


Smoked Turkey Salad

HSG Honey Mustard Dressing

 For the Hello! Honey luncheon, this dressing was served with a salad of organic mixed field greens, Jennie-O Sun-Dried Tomato Smoked Turkey Breast cubed, Grape halves and Pistachios.



1 quart Kraft Mayonnaise

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons French’s Mustard

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons onion salt or ¾ teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.


Honey Roasted Carrots


Honey-Roasted Carrots


2 lb. baby carrots with tops

2 teaspoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons butter, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons bourbon

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon chicken broth or water

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme


1.  Place a small roasting pan in oven.  Preheat oven and pan to 500 degrees.

2.  Cut tops from carrots, leaving 1 inch of greenery on each carrot.

3.  Stir together olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan.  Add carrots, salt, and pepper; toss to coat.  Bake 10 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add shallot; sauté 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and stir in bourbon and next 2 ingredients.  Return to heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until mixture is syrupy.

5.  Drizzle syrup over carrots; toss to coat.  Bake 5 to 7 more minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender.  Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with thyme.


Yield:  4 to 6 servings.


Note:  Substitute apple juice for bourbon, if you prefer.  Look for bunches of carrots that are all about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.  If some are too big-or if you can’t find real (sometimes labeled French) baby carrots-just peel the bigger ones and halve them lengthwise before roasting.








Pâte Sucrée

Tart Pastry


150 g butter

300 g flour

150 g powdered sugar

60 g eggs (one egg)

60 g ground almonds


In a bowl, combine butter, flour, powdered sugar and almonds.  Sablage the mixture, cutting the butter into the flour using your fingers until it is a sandy consistency.  Add the egg and stir with one finger.  Turn out on the counter.  Fraisage two to three times, until dough just comes together by using the palm of your hand to smear the dough across the counter.  Flatten it out on a parchment-lined sheet. Chill.  Form the dough into the tart shell.


Appareil au citron (cru)

Lemon Filling (uncooked)

Juice from 2 lemons

Zest of 1 lemon

135 g granulated sugar

35 g butter

3 eggs


In a saucepan, melt pieces of butter.  In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour the egg mixture through a fine sieve to remove chalise.  Add the butter and whisk rapidly.  Fill the tart shells to about ¾ full.  Bake at 180°C(360-365°F) for about 30 minutes, or until the top looks like a Crème Brûlée after it’s been torched.

Decorate cooled tart with an abundance of whipped cream in a decorative pattern, sprinkle with lemon zest.  Chill several hours or overnight before serving.


Recipe courtesy of Molly Wilkinson, Certified Pastry Chef, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

214 808-9231 or

Custom treats from Cupcakes to Tart Citron!




Honey-Pecan Tart




1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 cup whipping cream

¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup honey

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ cups pecan halves, coarsely chopped

1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

2 teaspoons sugar, divided

½ (4-ounce) package bittersweet chocolate, chopped




1.  Bring 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium-size heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cover and boil over medium-high heat, without stirring, 8 minutes or until golden, swirling pan occasionally.

2.  Remove from heat, and gradually stir in whipping cream (mixture will bubble with addition of cream).

3.  Add butter, honey, and salt, stirring until smooth.  Stir in pecans; simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Remove from heat; cool completely.

4.  Unfold 1 piecrust on a lightly floured surface; roll into an 11-inch circle.  Fit into a

9-inch removable bottom tart pan.  Trim edges.  Freeze crust 30 minutes.

5.  Spread pecan mixture into crust.  Unfold remaining piecrust, and roll into a 10-inch circle.  Place crust over mixture, pressing into bottom crust to seal; trim edges.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.  Freeze 30 minutes.

6.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

7.  Place chocolate in a small heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal.  Submerge in hot water until chocolate melts.  Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag; drizzle chocolate over tart.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.



Yield:  1 (9-inch) tart.



Honey Ice Cream



2 quarts half-and-half

1 ½ cups honey

2 tablespoons vanilla extract


1.  Stir together all ingredients, and pour into freezer container of a 1-gallon electric freezer.

2.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Pack with additional ice and rock salt, and let stand 1 hour before serving.

Yield:  3 quarts.


Pictures by Starla


Why spend April 15 with a calculator, a pile of receipts, and a deadline? The Demonstration Garden was buzzing on tax day with more than 30 guests enjoying a packed morning learning all about bees and honey.



Jewish Honey Cake, a traditional favorite for the Jewish New Year, and coffee helped take the chill off the brisk morning. In his talk, beekeeper David McCarty encouraged guests to purchase local honey. David noted that honey tastes of the nectar from particular flowers visited by bees, and honey from the same hive can have dramatically different flavors. Commercially produced grocery store honey is often so processed that all pollen is destroyed, he said, and may even contain fillers like corn syrup and fructose. (In the worst cases, generic honey may be little more than corn syrup.)

Honey cake was delicious with hot coffee.

David harvests honey, of course, but his passion is the small insects that make it. He works to rescue bees from exterminators and to keep hives healthy. David shares information with other North Texan bee enthusiasts on the Facebook open group, CrossTimbers Beekeepers. (

Honey Lunch Lecture with bee frame

Joe Field gardener (and beekeeper) Tim helped guests try different honeys with popsicle sticks. It’s hard to pick a favorite when testing Tupelo honey from Florida swamps, Sourwood from southern Appalachia, Orange Blossom from southern Florida, Wildflower from Texas fields, Huajillo from the brush country in Southwestern Texas, and Buckwheat from New York and North Dakota.

Linda dazzled guests with an appetizer tray of Brie, Manchego, and Point Reyes Blue Cheese from Scardello, an artisan cheese store at 3511 Oak Lawn, She sprinkled the cheese slices and honeycomb with Spanish Marcona Almonds, then drizzled the tray with honey from Master Gardener Jan Ramsey’s Tranquility Hill Ranch.

Cheese Tray Drizzled With Honey

Cheese Tray Drizzled With Honey


The table featured plates with tiny bees around the rim, bee-friendly bouquets of sunflowers, gold chargers, hand-lettered menus, and neutral tablecloths with a bee-themed runner. A place card with Elizabeth’s calligraphy tied to a honey dipper marked each guest’s place.


Oh, did we mention lunch?

The menu, of course, featured items with a honey twist: turkey and grape salad with honey-Dijon dressing, pasta handkerchiefs with tart cherry, sage (and honey) sauce, honey beer bread, honey-roasted carrots, and honey lemon tea. A dessert sampler tempted guests with a square of honey pecan tart, honey vanilla ice cream, and a French lemon tart topped with an abundance of whipped cream, a mint leaf, and fresh blueberry.

Information from the national Honey Board, a list of bee-friendly flowers, and in-depth information and sources for each honey were given to each guest.

As we planned the event, we were amazed at the intricate and amazing world of bees and honey. We learned the difference between varietal (one source of nectar) and local honey (Texas Wildflower). One thing led to another, and soon we were ordering honey from across the South, visiting our local beekeeper at the farmers market, and purchasing honey on college visitation trips.

Lisa purchased the Huajillo and Buckwheat honey from Walker Honey Farm, which has a retail store about 10 miles from I-35 in Rogers, Texas, near Belton and Temple. She also found a good selection of local honey at Ruibal’s Rosemeade Market in Carrollton, the HEB grocery stores in Georgetown and Temple, and the farmers market behind the famous Monument Cafe in Georgetown (a must stop if only for the homemade lemonade). Elizabeth made multiple trips to the farmers market on Campbell Road (near UTD) to purchase local honey and dippers from Warne Bee Farm in Anna, Texas.

Linda explored cookbooks, magazines, and internet sources including L.L. Lanier,, which has harvested Tupelo honey since 1898 in swamps along the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers in Florida. She also found the Savannah Bee Co. of Savannah, Georgia, which sells the rare and wonderful Sourwood honey.

Next time you’re at Bruce Miller Nursery on Belt Line Road in Richardson, check out Fain’s Honey from Llano, Texas. Lisa says Fain’s is a family favorite and something she and her family always pick up at Cooper’s Bar-B-Que in Llano after a big platter of brisket and ribs. Turns out there’s a honey of a family connection: Lisa’s dad, after all, was Fain Gibbons.


Pictures by Starla

Recipes and more buzz about honey coming up in the next few days! Keep posted!


In Loving Memory of Betty Haughton, June 20, 1930 – April 12, 2014

Betty with daughters Elizabeth Peck and Ann Lamb

Betty with daughters Elizabeth Peck and Ann Lamb

Our own dear Ann Lamb’s mother, Betty, was a beloved Master Gardener and friend to many of our volunteers. She was a frequent visitor to the Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road and would light up the garden with her smile, her laugh, and the twinkle that only Betty had in such abundance. Such an irreplaceable, gracious, loving woman; we will miss her dearly.

Betty’s family and friends will celebrate her life at a memorial service at Grace Bible Church on Tuesday, April 15, at 10 am with graveside services at 2 pm at Sparkman/Hillcrest.

“Betty’s loving smile radiated the love of Christ Jesus as she was a blessing to all. She sewed seeds in hearts and also in her garden. Flowers and vegetables flourished wherever she lived, and she became a Dallas County Master Gardener at 78 in the class of 2008. Those who knew and loved Betty were familiar with her heartwarming ways, her love for her family, Sunday lunches, Haughton tea, Fourth of July floats and picnics, knitted baby hats and blankets, our country, and our military. Her quiet strength, humble spirit, and daily walk with her Savior are the legacies she leaves with all of us.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann, her three sisters and their families.

Bee Expert, Local Honey Tastings & Lunch

Bee on Blanket Flower


Bee Expert, Local Honey Tastings & Lunch

It’s a Honey of a Deal!

Tuesday April 15 Ÿ10:30 a.m.-12:00 noon

$20 per person Ÿ Limited Reservations

EARTH-KIND®/WaterWise Demonstration Garden Ÿ 2311 Joe Field Rd.

Bee Expert David McCarty will tell you:

Ÿ Why are honeybees brilliant?

Ÿ Which bees produce the most honey?

Ÿ Why is the honeybee referred to as a well-designed engine?

Ÿ Why is the “waggle” dance a kind of honeybee GPS?

 Hello, Honey! Menu 

Appetizer Tray featuring Marcona Almonds & Artisanal Cheeses

Drizzled with Tranquility Hill Honey RanchŸ

Goat Cheese Handkerchiefs with Tart Cherries & SageŸ

Smoked Turkey, Red Grape & Pistachio Salad

With Creamy Honey-Dijon DressingŸ

Honey-Pecan Tart with Honey Ice CreamŸ

Iced Honey Lemon Tea

Your check is your reservation and must be received by April 5th.  No refunds.

Make checks payable to: DCMGA.

Email: dallasgardenbuzz@gmail for the address of where to send your checks.

Harbinger of Spring


Quince BranchAlmost no other plant screams as loudly “Spring is just around the corner!! “ as the cheerful sight of a Flowering Quince in full bloom in the dreary winter landscape.

Native to eastern Asia, Japan and China, Flowering Quince is highly adaptable to growing well the United States, including Texas.  Because of its Asian origins, an old-time name for the plant was Japonica and the pink and white blossoms of Flowering Quince and its fruit are often depicted in Japanese paintings.


Flowering Quince, genus Chaenomeles, can range in size from 2-10 feet tall and wide depending on the variety.  They tend to be a rounded shrub and nearly all have thorns, though some of the newest varieties are thornless.  Except for their brief moment of glory when they bloom in shades of red, white, pink or salmon in late winter, they are a nondescript, glossy green shrub which some consider too ungainly and rambling to be given a prominent place in the landscape.  They are very hardy, will live for years, and require only moderate maintenance.  In highly alkaline soils they may become chlorotic but even in Dallas County this does not present much of a problem.  Though some of the newer varieties are said to grow in partial shade, the more sun they are given, the more flowers they will produce. 

     Here at the Demonstration Garden we grow a variety called Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet.’  It grows from 3-6 feet tall and wide and has very fiery tomato-red, apple-blossom-like flowers that precede the deciduous leaves.  After blooming it produces a greenish-yellow fruit which can be harvested in the fall.  It is considered best when used in a shrub border or as a background plant.

    The fruit of Flowering Quince, including Texas Scarlet, can be used to make jellies and jams.  The fruit is very hard and must be cooked before eating; and the seeds, which contain amygdalin, must be removed before cooking.  Because the fruit contains more Vitamin C than lemons, in Estonia, it is called a Nordic Lemons.  There are several recipes for Flowering Quince jelly on the internet.  However, because of the small size of most of the fruit from ornamental varieties, most cooks consider it too labor intensive to make jelly from varieties such as Texas Scarlet.

   quince-flowering  Though nurseries are carrying Flowering Quince now that are in full bloom, just remember that glory of these shrubs may only last for ten days to two weeks.  However, if you plant and establish Flowering Quince now, just wait until next year.   You will be greeted with a flamboyant harbinger of spring. 



Daffodil, Jonquil, Narcissus


What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

–Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

     Picture the flower: daffodil, jonquil, narcissus.  If you are like most people, probably a particular flower comes to mind.  However depending in which part of the country you grew up or lived, or even your age, the specific flowers associated with each of these terms may be different.  This confusion, when using common names for plants, is why botanists classify plants using their Latin or scientific names.

So what exactly is the difference between a daffodil, a narcissus, and a jonquil?  The simple answer, according to University of Illinois   Extension specialist Jennifer Schultz Nelson,  “is nothing, or “it depends.”  All three terms are used as common names in many cases and used incorrectly.  Narcissus is technically the only correct scientific name identifying the genus of this group of plants.  It is not a common name, though some use it as such.  Daffodil is typically used as a collective name for all these plants, but is more often used to describe the larger flowered types.  Jonquil is a name sometimes used for this group as well, but actually only applies to a very small subgroup, Narcissus jonquilla and related hybrids, which typically have several small, fragrant flowers on each stem with flat petals.  The foliage is very narrow and reed-like, according to the American Daffodil Society (ADS).”

Daffodil 'Unsurpassable'

Daffodil ‘Unsurpassable’

The American Daffodil Society (ADS) designates 13 divisions of daffodils with, depending on which botanist is asked, over 40 to 200 different daffodil species, subspecies and varieties of species and over 25,000 registered cultivars or named hybrids.  Daffodils are members of the Amaryllis family, of the genus Narcissus.  Narcissus is derived from the Greek word narke, meaning numbness or stupor.   Perhaps the name was given because in Greek mythology Narcissus was a young man so enamored of himself that he stared at his reflection in a pool of water until he eventually drowned as he tried to embrace himself.  Supposedly flowers grew up around the site.  Or the name Narcissus may refer to the flower’s intoxicating fragrance, or because all parts of the daffodil are poisonous.  In fact, not only animals but even humans who have occasionally mistaken a daffodil bulb for an onion, have become ill upon eating the bulb.  There is even a contact dermatitis called “daffodil picker’s rash” which can occur upon repeated handling of the stems.

Above: Narcissus tazetta Double Roman peeking our thru leaves of our yew at The Demonstration Garden

Above: Narcissus tazetta Double Roman peeking our thru leaves of our yew at The Demonstration Garden

Daffodils found growing wild in Texas around old homesteads or cemeteries were probably brought over here from Europe by early settlers, according to Dr. Jerry Parsons, retired AgriLife Extension Horticulturist. Daffodils will grow best in a well drained area in full sun though they can naturalize in part shade under deciduous trees.  The bulbs should be planted and divided in the fall or late summer.   It is extremely important that the foliage be allowed to grow, mature and ripen naturally.  According to Dr. Parsons, it should never be cut off or “tied in cute little knots.”  It is the foliage that stores up the food reserves for the next year’s blooms and new bulbs.  In a flower bed, the withering foliage can be disguised by other plants.

Narcissus tazetta '‘Grand Primo’', a bulb that will naturalize in Texas

Narcissus tazetta ‘‘Grand Primo’’, a bulb that will naturalize in Texas

To naturalize daffodils in Texas, it is important to plant the correct varieties.  In general, according to Dr. Parsons, Southern grown stock is genetically superior in vigor to the commercial Dutch forms.  His article on daffodils in Plant Answers lists some of his favorite varieties.  Another excellent source for bulbs of all kinds collected from Texas and neighboring states is The Southern Bulb Company  The owner, Chris Wiesinger, collects heirloom and sometimes rare bulbs that will perform very well for the warm-weather gardener.  Many of the daffodils and bulbs planted at the DemonstrationGarden have come from his stock.

So, whether you call them daffodil, narcissus or jonquil,

now is the time to enjoy these delightful flowers.


Picture of ‘Double Roman’ and ‘Grand Primo’ by Starla

Daffodil ‘Unsurpassable’: DaffSeek, American Daffodil Society, Inc., Unsurpassable retrieved on Mar 6, 2014’, available at

Take in all things Daffodil at The Annual Texas Daffodil Society Show  this weekend at the Dallas Arboretum.

Companion Plants and Plantings

Onions and potatoes…not only do they taste great together – they grow great together!  A few weeks ago, we planted our onions (yellow 1015, otherwise known as Texas Sweet) and potatoes (red LaSoda) in one of our raised beds.  We planted the onions from seedlings, and prepared seed potatoes.

Above: Calloused Potatoes, ready to plant

Above: Calloused Potatoes, ready to plant

To prepare the potatoes, they were quartered – making sure there were a couple of eyes in each section, dipped in sulfur powder (you may know it as the stuff you sprinkle on yourself to keep chiggers at bay), and then left in a cool, dry, dark place to callous over.   By callousing over the cut parts of the potatoes, excess moisture evaporates and the chance of mold growing underground where the potato was cut is reduced. Usually, 7-10 days is sufficient for callousing.

Since the onions didn’t require any special work, they got planted a couple of weeks earlier, at the top of two rows we’d made in the bed.  They were planted about an inch deep, and roughly four inches apart from one another.  These are bulb onions, so we wanted to make sure there’d be plenty of room for them to grow nice and big.  The potatoes, once they were ready, got planted in the furrow made between the two rows of onions, cut side down (eyes up), about four inches deep and roughly six inches apart.  Six inches may seem a little close, but our goal was to plant all our sets, and that’s how the spacing worked out in our raised bed.

Above: Sue and Christina planting our potatoes inside rows of onions

Above: Sue and Christina planting our potatoes inside rows of onions

So why plant these two together?  It goes like this:  as the onion grows, to help facilitate bulb production, we’ll start removing some of the soil off of the tops of the bulbs.  Meanwhile, the potato plant grows upwards, but the potato is formed off of the part of the stem that is underground.  So as the potato grows upwards, we’ll use the soil we’re removing off of the onion to help bury the potato plant stem so there’s more stem to swell into more potatoes!  Pretty nifty, eh?

Finally, at the end of the bed we have a boxlike structure made of wood.  There, we’re experimenting with growing the potatoes really tall – covering the stems with compost as the plant grows upwards.  We’ve planted five potato pieces in there – one in each corner, and one in the middle – and our drip line extends into the box area.  As the plants grow up and we add more compost, we’ll lift the drip line (we’ve left a little play in there) so it stays near the top of the soil.

Above: Jim explaining the potato growing process

Above: Jim explaining the potato growing process

It’ll be a few months before we can harvest the roots and tubers of our labors, but it’s good to keep in mind that if you plant a short-day/spring/sweet onion, it’s not considered a storage onion.  If cured properly, it may last a couple of months, but the high sugar content works against long storage.  So it’s best to cook ‘em up and eat ‘em quick!

Lila Rose

More about our Potatoes: One Potato, Two Potato, Hopefully More, A Better Mouse Trap, and Vegetable Planting in January and more about Onions: The Lowly Onion.


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