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WELCOME TO DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ

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 at 11001 Midway 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.

The Color Purple

One of the main tasks at The Raincatcher’s Garden right now is installing drip irrigation.  Our liscensed irrigator, Doug Andrews of Double D Landscapes is at the helm.

Doug Andrews, Double D Landscapes

Doug Andrews, Double D Landscapes

The process of irrigating a large garden like The Raincatcher’s Garden is cumbersome.  Purple has become our new favorite color and the reason is that our future plans include harvesting water collected from the roof of  nearby buildings. The color purple is used to identify pumps, tanks and pipes carrying reclaimed water for reuse. Purple or what looks like a pretty shade of lavender  means non potable or non drinkable water.  At our garden on Joe Field Road we had two large 2500 gallon cisterns collecting rainwater off our large shed. We don’t have them yet for our new garden and will judiciously use city water in the meantime. Anyone want to donate rainwater cisterns?

Purple Tubing  for Drip Irrigation Installed at The Raincatcher's Garden

Purple Tubing for Drip Irrigation Installed at The Raincatcher’s Garden

In the meantime, our plant success  depends on our amended soil, heavy mulch application, and hand watering.  More rain is welcome!

Find out more about Drip Irrigation as taught by Dr. Dotty Woodson, here.

Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHY SHOULD YOU CONISDER PLANTING NATIVE?

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PLEASE READ THIS BOOK:   Bringing Nature Home-How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens by Douglas Tallamy PhD

Do you feel pretty good about your understanding of the importance of native plants in your landscape?  Or—do you think “the native plant thing”  is yet another fad and  you know red roses and nandinas form the framework for all “good” gardens?  It doesn’t matter at all—either way—this is the book for you.

This is not the perfect book for us here in Texas.  The author lives in the Northeast and any of the plants profiled are specific to that region.  However, that in no way diminishes its value.  The basic ideas remain the same whatever the location.  Dr. Tallamy, whose doctorate is in entomology, presents the wonderful, terrible idea that what we, as caretakers of our land, no matter the size, are making life or death decisions for a host of creatures simply by our plant choices.

The book effectively makes it clear that  Nature is “here” in our gardens now.  We cannot assume that plants and animals are fine somewhere “out there in the wild”  because  there just is so little of the wild left.

That’s upsetting—it means taking responsibility for our actions.  But it’s also an incredible opportunity to make a difference for ourselves, our family, our community—and beyond.

The introduction presents the major concepts to be considered.  The wild creatures we want in our world simply will not be able to live without food and places to live.  Things look grim,  for creatures are gone or greatly reduced in numbers.  But hope is there  it’s not too late to save many plants and animals—but to do it we must change our ways.

Alien plants have replaced native ones  to an alarming extent.  Now all plants capture the energy from the sun but most alien plants are not able to  provide support to native insects they cannot eat them.  Insects are the major way that energy is transferred to other creatures.  This is not just the author’s opinion—there is research to prove it.

Increased use of native plants can produce at least a simplified version of the diverse ecosystem that used to exist.  The charts that show the insect populations supported by native plants as opposed to alien ones are truly eye-opening.

All the chapters on insects are educational—but the one on aphids—do not miss it.  Aphids are amazing creatures—you will never think of them as disgusting little pests ever again.

If you read even a part of this book you will gain insight into the complex web of interactions between plants insects and other animals.

Susan

Pictures by Starla

 

Orchid Heaven

Friday, June 5th, More than a dozen Master Gardeners from The Raincatcher’s Garden visited the Tarrant County Demonstration Garden for helpful ideas and then traveled to D&B Orchids, the Orchid Greenhouse run by Dr. Dotty Woodson and her husband, Berry Woodson.

We were overcome by the sight of approximately 8,000 orchids and the botany lessons taught by Dotty that day.

Meet some of the stars of our visit to D&B Orchids.

 Phalaenopsis

Phalaenopsis

It was intoxicating. Orchids everywhere!  This purple orchid was growing out of a pot, one of many, hanging from the rafters of the greenhouse.

Vanda

Vanda

And just when you thought you had found your favorite, another would steal the show.

 Angracum from Madagascar

Angracum from Madagascar

Dotty’s husband was the recipient of the  Herb Hager Award for Hybridizer of the Year from the American Orchid Society for his hybrid, Phalaenopsis Jose Carreres. Hopefully, Starla snapped a picture of it that we can share.

If not, looks like we will have to make another trip to D&B Orchids.

Ann

Video by Starla

Pictures by Ann

Thank you Ana and Michele for arranging the trip!

 

 

 

 

WaterWise Tour Saturday, June 6th, 9am-3pm

We have been blessed with rain this year and now out of drought, so why do we need to be  WaterWise?  As one Texas rancher said “Texas is a continuous drought with intermittent floods.” Already you see gardens drying out and sprinklers being turned back on.

Dallas residents must practice the principles of WaterWise Gardening. So here’s your chance to see and learn.

Saturday, June 6th  get out the door before 9am to experience the many WaterWise Gardens in Dallas.  The self guided, free  tour is sponsored by City of Dallas Water Utilities, City of Dallas Parks & Recreation, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Dallas County Master Gardeners. Tour Headquarters are set up in 3 Dallas  locations with gardening classes taught by Master Gardeners at each location.

These are some of the best gardening experts in our town!

Along with the free classes, 19 gardens are on tour and 7 demonstration gardens. The Raincatcher’s Garden will be fully staffed.  Stop by and see us, we hope we are #1 on your list.

Go to savedallaswater.com for a tour map.

 Classes 

Central Tour Headquarters
City of Dallas – White Rock Pump Station, 2900 White Rock Road, Dallas, TX 75214

9:00 a.m. – WaterWise Gardening – Chrissy Cortez-Mathis
10:00 a.m. – Why, Where & How of Planting Your Landscape Tree – Eric Larner
11:00 a.m. – Redesigning Your Landscape – Judy Fender
12:00 p.m. – Best Trees for Your Landscape – Eric Larner
1:00 p.m. – Landscaping for the Shade – Judy Fender
2:00 p.m. – WaterWise Gardening – Judy Fender

North Tour Headquarters
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center – 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252

9:00 a.m. – WaterWise Gardening – C.A. Hiscock
10:00 a.m. – Plant Propagation – Roseann Ferguson
11:00 a.m. – Soil Preparation – C.A. Hiscock

South Tour Headquarters
City of Dallas – Kidd Springs Recreation Center – 711 W. Canty Street, Dallas, TX 75208

English
9:00 a.m. – Plants That Like to Grow Here – Kevin Burns
10:00 a.m. – Vegetable Gardening – John Hunt
11:00 a.m. – Lawn Care for Weed Owners – John Hunt
12:00 p.m. – Plants That Like to Grow Here – Kevin Burns

Bilingual (English-Español)
1:00 p.m. – Plant Propagation/Propagación de Plantas – Judy Meagher

NOTE: Dallas County Master Gardeners will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to answer your gardening/landscaping questions in English or Spanish.

NOTA: Los Jardineros Maestros del Condado de Dallas estarán disponible de 9:00 a.m. a 1:00 p.m. para responder a sus preguntas de jardinería/paisajismo en inglés o español.

 9 a.m.-3 p.m. June 6. Free. 214-670-3155

Ann

Quote by: Pete Bonds, president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

Fried “Green Potatoes?”

 If you are a southerner, you probably know that unripe, green tomatoes, when fried or made into chutney, can be a culinary delight.  However, green potatoes?  AVOID THEM!!

 

Neon Green Potato from Carolyn's Garden, Not Photo Shopped! Beware, Even Green Tinged Potatoes Should not be Eaten.

Neon Green Potato from Carolyn’s Garden, Not Photo Shopped! Beware, Even Green Tinged Potatoes Should not be Eaten.

Now is the time that many vegetable gardeners are harvesting the potatoes that they planted in late January-February.  If, as recommended, you have been hilling up soil against the stem of the potato or kept adding soil and compost to a potato bin, the odds are good that you will not find any “green” potatoes.  However, if the ever-growing bunches of potatoes have managed to heave themselves out of the ground and are exposed to sunlight or if the potatoes have been exposed to extremes of heat or cold — beware.  Those greenish potatoes can be potentially deadly.   In fact, even potatoes brought from the store, if not properly stored in a cool, dry, dark place, can develop a greenish tint if exposed to too much light.

The greenish hue that can be found on potatoes exposed to light is actually chlorophyll.  Not a bad thing, you say, because we eat chlorophyll in many leafy greens.  However in the potato, the presence of chlorophyll also indicates the presence of solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of nightshade.  This bitter nerve toxin crystalline alkaloid is part of the plant’s defense against insects, disease, and predators.  It is found primarily in the stems and leaves of potatoes but can also be found on any green spots on the skin of a potato and on buds.

Solanine interferes with the body’s ability to transmit impulses between cells.  Ingested in large enough quantities, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and even paralysis of the central nervous system.  Though an average adult would have to eat a very large quantity of green tinged potatoes (which are often quite bitter, a good warning sign) to have neurological damage, children may be more susceptible to ill effects.  In general, it is probably best to throw away any potatoes that have green eyes, sprouts, or greenish skins.

As B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist at Purdue University says: “The next time you see a green potato, be thankful for that color change.  It’s warning you of the presence of toxic solanine.”

Carolyn

Picture by Carolyn

More info about potatoes :

Vegetable Planting in January

One Potato, Two Potato, Hopefully More

 

 

 

 

More May Recipes

 

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Black Pepper Crust

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Black Pepper Crust

Black- Pepper Tartlet Crusts

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup sour cream

Directions:

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and pepper; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until crumbled.  Add sour cream, and pulse until mixture comes together.  Remove mixture and form into a disk; wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 6 (5-inch) rounds from dough.  Place a round in bottom and up sides of each of 6 (4-inch) tartlet pans.  Line tartlet crusts with parchment paper to cover bottoms and sides, and top with pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly.  Remove pie weights and parchment paper.  Return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and cool.

Pesto

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup grated fresh Asiago cheese

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

⅓ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine basil, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and pine nuts; pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil; pulse until smooth.  Prepared pesto can be stored, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

Linda

The black pepper crust and pesto recipes are part of the Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlet recipe on the previous post.

 

 

 

 

 

May Recipes from the Master Gardener Meeting

Linda, Evelyn, and Judy and Tarts

Linda, Evelyn, and Judy and Tarts

Heirloom-Tomato-And Goat-Cheese Tartlets

Ingredients:

Black-Pepper Crusts (see below)

Pesto (see below)

3 cups heirloom tomatoes, cut in half

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (4-ounce) package goat-cheese crumbles

Garnish: fresh oregano and microbasil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place prepared Black-Pepper Tartlet Crusts on baking sheet. Spoon about 3 tablespoons Pesto into bottom of each crust. Fill each tartlet with tomatoes, and season evenly with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle cheese over tomatoes, and bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.
  3. Garnish with oregano and microbasil, if desired. Serve immediately.

Black- Pepper Tartlet Crusts

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup sour cream

Directions:

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and pepper; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until crumbled.  Add sour cream, and pulse until mixture comes together.  Remove mixture and form into a disk; wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 6 (5-inch) rounds from dough.  Place a round in bottom and up sides of each of 6 (4-inch) tartlet pans.  Line tartlet crusts with parchment paper to cover bottoms and sides, and top with pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly.  Remove pie weights and parchment paper.  Return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and cool.

Pesto

Ingredients:

3 cups fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup grated fresh Asiago cheese

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

⅓ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine basil, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and pine nuts; pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil; pulse until smooth.  Prepared pesto can be stored, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days
Lettuce Prep for Butterhead Lettuce Salad

Lettuce Prep for Butterhead Lettuce Salad

Butterhead Lettuce and Spring Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:

5 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 heads butterhead lettuce, washed and dried

6 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

2 ounces alfalfa sprouts

Jane with Sprouts!

Jane with Sprouts!

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and add to bowl along with radishes and carrots. Toss; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide salad equally among four plates and top each with sprouts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Asparagus Ready to Eat

Asparagus Ready to Eat

Parmesan Asparagus Roll-Ups with Lemon Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 package phyllo dough

½ – 1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 stick butter, melted

30 asparagus spears, washed, woody ends cut and dried

Lemon Dipping Sauce

Directions:

Take pastry out of box and unfold one package of sheets. Cover sheets with a just barely damp paper towel when not using.

  1. Remove one sheet of phyllo and put on a work surface. Brush the entire sheet with butter; put another sheet of phyllo on top, brush second sheet with butter.
  2. Cut pastry sheets into six even strips, cutting from one short end to another.
  3. Sprinkle each phyllo strip with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Wind one phyllo strip around each asparagus in a spiral manner starting at the base.
  5. Repeat with phyllo until all the asparagus is rolled up.
  6. Brush the tops of the phyllo dough with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  7. Put the asparagus on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, until the phyllo is light golden brown.

Lemon Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Dash of hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put all ingredient s in a bowl and mix well. Serve with asparagus.  Chill if not using right away.

Linda

May 2015 Master Gardener Meeting 036

And what about those Blackberry Pie Bars? Click here!

 

 

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