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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 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.

Radish Reminders and Onions

Sow radish seeds early February through mid- April. We enjoyed them all through fall and winter and now get a second chance. Radishes are perhaps one of the most satisfying crops because they germinate quickly and profusely from seed but don’t forget to thin them! At approximately two weeks old or one inch in height, snip off the leaves and add the tops right into your salad bowl. In fact, you can eat radish tops anytime. They are one of the “root to leaf” crops being touted by American chefs and gardeners.

Above: Stunted Radishes, No Room to Grow

Above: Stunted Radishes, No Room to Grow

A word from Jerry Parsons,  Ph.D., horticulture specialist with the Texas Cooperative Extension in San Antonio:  “Plants require a certain amount of space for optimum root expansion and foliage growth if maximum production is expected.” The key words to understand are “optimum” and “maximum” . Plants limited by space restrictions will produce, but not to the maximum. They will grow, but not in the optimum condition. This is true for those vegetables which need space to physically expand (the radish, turnip, onion bulb) as well as all vegetables which need the intensity of sunlight to energize the chlorophyll of cells to insure optimum functioning of plant processes and, consequently, maximum production.”

Radishes from our Garden, Properly Thinned

Radishes from our Garden, Properly Thinned

Onions-you have probably already planted them or are “fixin” to get them into the ground.

Above: Onion Sets Ready to be Planted

Above: Onion Sets Ready to be Planted

Remember to allow space for them to grow. Judge this by the expected size of the variety you are planting.

For example, green onions need less space than the larger bulbs of 1015Y onions. Spring is coming! Here’s what you can look forward to as an onion grower.

No worries about how to eat these crops. The Dallas County Master Gardener Cookbook, A Year On The Plate, will have plenty of recipes. (Publishing Date To Be Determined) But just like spring, it’s coming!

Onion Planting Advice : The Lowly Onion


Pictures and Video by Starla

Oh, oh, oh and don’t forget National Seed Swap Day at Preston Forest, Whole Foods Market today from 12-4.

Master Gardeners  will be there with seed activities and seeds to give away.

National Seed Swap Day, Saturday, January 30, 2016

seed collage with edgeWe have had a tradition of saving seeds at our garden. We carefully collect seeds, bag them, and give them to garden visitors. When Whole Foods Grocery at Preston Forest called and offered to let us participate in Seed Swap Day, we thought this would be a win-win situation!

 Volunteers from The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills will exchange seeds as part of the National Seed Swap Day from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 30. Whole Foods Market at Preston-Forest will host the fun event filled with garden ideas and live music. Volunteers will offer flower seeds and donated gardening books, promote RGMH, and help children make seed mats with zinnia and cosmos seeds.


Pictures by Starla

Click for Sage Seed Advice




Flavorful News from the Dallas County Master Gardener Cookbook Committee

A new Dallas County Master Gardener Cookbook is on the way.  Our members have submitted a wheelbarrow full of recipes and gardening tips that the cookbook committee has been dutifully busy tasting and testing.

cookbook collage

We jumped into July with forks in hand. Tomato recipes were tasteful and tempting.  Corn, in abundance, brought comfort to our tummies.  Blackberries had us beaming with their beauty.  And, peaches just pushed us over the edge with their juicy goodness.  What could be better?  Well…

Cookbook August cropped overhead shot

In August we anguished over the okra. Which do we like best?  Fried, roasted, simmered, stewed or even finessed into little muffins?   And, oh how the squash recipes raised our spirits.  Shaved into salads, grated for quiche, pureed into soup, carpaccio and casseroles to consider.  How will we decide?

September, October and November we celebrated the harvest bounty. Sweet potatoes to savor, pumpkin recipes to ponder, an over-the-top apple recipe, a unique and very elegant pear presentation that left us swooning while Meyer lemon pie made us pucker with pride.

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Our journey has been filled with flavor, fun and friendly evaluations. We’ve tasted, tested, eliminated some and accepted over 140 recipes.  Profound thanks to our faithful volunteers who have traveled with us.   The adventure continues to grow more exciting and we can’t wait to share our discoveries.

Until then, stay posted for more “flavorful news” from the cookbook committee and a special 2016 unveiling.

Take a peek at some “behind the scenes pics” courtesy of Ann and Starla!

Linda Alexander, Cookbook Chair

Winter at Raincatcher’s

Green and Red Mustard Greens at The Raincatcher's Garden of Midway Hills

Green and Red Mustard Greens at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

If you have been eating your way through the garden this winter, no doubt you are acquainted with the  brassica family.  Members of this family include arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, rutabaga, turnips, radishes, collard greens and mustard greens. They are cool season vegetables, planted in the fall in Dallas, Texas and harvested all through our mild winter.

Right now I am smacking my lips thinking of the cauliflower picked and  prepared at Linda’s yesterday. The recipe will be in our new Master Gardener cookbook, A Year on the Plate, which we hope, hope, hope to publish this year.

Along with harvesting and enjoying winter veggies, you should be planting onions now.  Onion planting instructions and recipes are all through our blog. You can’t escape them.


Pictures by Starla

What’s coming up in 2016?

Seed Swap Day at Whole Foods at Preston Forest, January 30

More information about our cookbook, A Year on the Plate.

A how-to video about braiding onions so you will remember to get yours planted right away














The time of year for the best of bushy bluestem

Source: The time of year for the best of bushy bluestem

10 Years of Gardening to Celebrate!

Merry Christmas y’all. Celebrate with us!



Video by Starla, of course!

Rain Garden Class

Dallas has had record rainfall  in 2015 totaling 57.95 inches. Could homeowners be doing something to slow and/or lessen storm water runoff, create less pollution in runoff, or direct water that falls on your property so that groundwater supplies are replenished? Dr Fouad Jaber will address these subjects next Tuesday.

Date: Tuesday, December 8

Time: 10:00 am

Place: The Raincathcher’s Garden of Midway Hills (we will meet in fellowship all)

11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas 75229

Cost: Free!

Master Gardeners can receive one hour of education credit

This class is open to the public. Bring a friend, all welcome.

Record Rainfall Data

Video by Starla


Information about our speaker, Dr.Fouad Jaber:

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Integrated Water Resources Management
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Dr. Jaber’s research emphasis is integrated water resources management. His area of study is focused on best management practices to mitigate the harmful effects of urbanization on storm water volume and water quality. He test the effectiveness of green infrastructure (GI) and low impact development (LID) practices such as porous pavement, bio-retention areas, green roofs, rainwater harvesting and wet detention ponds. Dr. Jaber also conducts research in water reuse in urban settings including grey water and A/C condensate reuse.




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