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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 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.

Chow Chow

This is the Monday family’s ‘best guess’ recipe for the relish served at an old cat fish place near Oil City, Louisiana.

 I’m not sure why, but  we call it “B and B Relish”.

Tomatoes and Onions on the Stove!

Tomatoes and Onions on the Stove!

B and B Chow Chow

(Also known as Cool Point Relish)

2 Gallons quartered green tomatoes

1/2 Gallon quartered (or smaller) onions

1 Pint hot peppers ( or less)

1/2 Gallons white vinegar

6 Cups sugar

1/2 cup salt

In large pan, add the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a large pan.  Bring it to boil and add tomatoes, onions, and peppers.  Bring it back to a boil, and remove from heat.

Pack in jars, cover with liquid and seal.

Dorothy

Harvesting Before the Freeze

For a whole summer I have watched the beautiful, vining sweet potato plant in my garden and wondered what was happening below ground.  Sweet potatoes can be dug as soon as the tubers reach suitable size but farmer friends like Tim say the flavor and quality improves with colder weather. They can even be left in ground until after the first freeze  and leaves blacken, but you don’t want to leave them in too long and have rotten potatoes.  So today was my  day to pick!

Sweet Potatoes from Ann's Garden

Sweet Potatoes from Ann’s Garden

Of course, Tim had more. He has a nice big plot at The Farmer’s Branch Community Garden.

Tim's Sweet Potatoes

Tim’s Sweet Potatoes

I also picked my green tomatoes.  Dorothy  picked 70 pounds from her garden last week and made the most delicious Chow Chow.

Chow Chow is a southern favorite made from pickled green tomatoes and other veggies. It is served alongside  black eyed peas to hamburgers to cornbread, almost anything and hers was the best I have ever tasted.

Green Tomato ChowChow

Her recipe will be shared tomorrow!

Ann

 

 

 

 

More Recipes from Farwell to the Field Luncheon

 

From Cranberry Spice Chutney to Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cinnamon Flavored Whipped Cream our “garden inspired’ menu was filled with the flavors of fall. It truly was a time to express gratitude for our new home as we celebrated with our most supportive Master Gardener friends.

Farewell-volunteers

We have loved our garden on Joe Field Road but  are ready to begin anew with exciting plans in a large field on the property of Midway Hills Christian Church.  We bring with us experience and as you can see from the smiles on our faces; we bring a camaraderie or esprit de corps that will enable us to plant the 100′s of  plants and lay miles of drip irrigation in the coming year.

Remember us as you plan your Thanksgiving celebrations!

Farewell salad

Bibb Lettuce Salad with Raspberry Maple Dressing

Ingredients:

5 heads Bibb lettuce, torn into pieces

2 small purple onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings

2 cups (8 ounces) crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese

½ cup toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds

⅔ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Arrange the lettuce and onion on 12 salad plates. Sprinkle evenly with the blue cheese and pine nuts.
  2. Combine the oil, vinegar and maple syrup in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until well mixed. Drizzle the desired amount over the salads.

Yield: 12 servings

Farewell-cranberry chutney

Cranberry Chutney

Serve leftovers atop cream cheese as an appetizer, or spread on warm biscuits at breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple

1 medium onion, chopped

¾ cup chopped celery

1 cup raisins (golden)

1 cup sugar

1 cup white vinegar

¾ cup water

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries

Directions:

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Serve alongside turkey, chicken, roast, or ham. Store covered in refrigerator.

Yield: 4 cups.

Farewell-veggies

Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Vegetables

1 large head regular cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets

1 pound baby Romanesco cauliflower, or regular, cut into small florets

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch wedges

1 pound brussels sprouts, halved

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Vinaigrette

½ cup pomegranate juice

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup pomegranate seeds

Directions:

  1. Roast the vegetables: Preheat oven to 425⁰. Toss together vegetables and oil in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.  Spread vegetables evenly on 2 rimmed baking sheets, and roast until golden, mixing halfway through, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Transfer pomegranate juice to a bowl. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle vinaigrette over warm vegetables, and toss with pomegranate seeds.

Yield: Serves 12.

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls and Sour Cream Yeast Rolls

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls and Sour Cream Yeast Rolls

Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

 An “unnamed” family member said she once ate 10 of these dreamy little “puffs” of goodness. We’ll never tell!

Ingredients:

2 packages dry yeast

1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato

½ cup shortening

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ½ teaspoons salt

5 ¼ to 5 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup butter, softened

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add sweet potato, shortening, sugar, egg, and salt; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until thoroughly blended. Gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.

 

  1. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

 

  1. Punch dough down, and divide into 3 equal parts. Roll each into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface; spread each circle with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter. Cut each circle into 12 wedges; roll up each wedge, beginning at wide end. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, point side down, curving slightly to form a crescent.

 

  1. Cover crescent rolls and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 30 to 45 minutes or until rolls are doubled in bulk. Bake at 400 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

Yield: 3 dozen

Sour Cream Yeast Rolls

Ingredients:

½ cup sour cream

¼ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (100° to 110°)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

Melted butter

Directions:

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter melts. Cool sour cream mixture to 100° to 110°.
  2. Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in sour cream mixture and egg. Gradually add flour to yeast mixture, mixing well.

(Dough will be wet.) Cover and chill 8 hours.

  1. Punch dough down. Shape into 36 (1-inch) balls; place 3 balls in each lightly greased muffin cup. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  2. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Brush rolls with melted butter. Freeze up to 1 month, if desired. To reheat, wrap frozen rolls in aluminum foil, and bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 1 dozen.

Farewell pumkin cheesecake

 Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe from “The Peach Tree” Tea Room in Fredericksburg, Texas was published in the March 1989 issue of Gourmet Magazine. It is worthy of the honor. 

 Ingredients:

Crust:

1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs

½ cup finely chopped pecans

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pat mixture firmly into bottom only of a buttered 9” to 10” springform pan. Bake 15 minutes in a pre-heated 325 degree oven. Remove from oven and set aside.  Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

Filling:

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

3 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon salt

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons evaporated milk or whipping cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mix ¼ cup sugar, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and 6 tablespoons sugar until smooth.
  3. Add cornstarch, evaporated milk, and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add pumpkin mixture to cream cheese mixture. Mix until no traces of white remain.
  5. Pour filling mixture into prepared springform pan, and bake 1 hour at 300 degrees until sides have risen. The center will be soft.
  6. Turn off oven and let cake cool with door closed for several hours or overnight. Refrigerate cheesecake. May be served with whipped cream, a dusting of cinnamon, sugar, and a few small pieces of toffee candy, if desired.  Also would be good topped with praline sauce.

 

Yield: 14 to 16 Servings

Farewell cranberry crisp

Cranberry Pear Crisp

Ingredients:

3 very ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

1 cup whole cranberries

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup oatmeal

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon butter

½ cup Enlightened Crème Fraiche

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, maple syrup, and lemon juice and toss. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, combine the oatmeal, brown sugar, and flour. Cut in the butter until the consistency resembles coarse crumbs and the dough just barely holds together. Spoon the cranberry mixture into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and spoon the dry mixture over it.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the topping is brown and crisp. Reduce the heat to 350°

and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the fruit is bubbling. Serve with Enlightened Crème Fraiche.

Yield: Serves 4

Linda

Pictures by Starla

Farewell to the Field, Hello to the HIlls Luncheon and Recipes

Our last act at our 9 year old garden was to be on Tuesday.  Fifty guests and much preparation were planned.

Above: Flowers from our Garden on Joe Field Road

Above: Flowers from our Garden on Joe Field Road

Rain came and changed our plans.  Instead of being at Joe Field for the last time, we moved our feast to our new home at Midway Hills Christian Church, 11001 Midway Rd, Dallas, Texas 75229.   The lunch was a fund raiser for us and a time for thankfulness.

Guests were greeted in the parking lot by Master Gardener volunteers with huge umbrellas.  One of our guests said” you guys think of everything!” The hors d’oeuvres table and wassail were very popular.

Cranberry Wassail

Ingredients:

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon allspice

3 Tablespoons tea

3 cups boiling water

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

2 cups water

¾ cup sugar

½ cup orange juice

½ cup lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Put spices in saucepan and pour boiling water over them. Pour boiling spices over tea, in large pan with cover. Let steep 5 minutes covered.
  2. Beat jellied cranberry sauce with fork and heat with 2 cups water; add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  3. Strain tea; add cranberry liquid mixture, orange juice and lemon juice.
  4. Serve hot.

Yield: Makes 2 quarts.

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce and Walnuts

Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce and Walnuts

 Baked Brie with Cranberry Sauce and Walnuts 

Ingredients:

¾ cup cranberry sauce

1 (16-ounce) brie round

Zest of one orange

⅔ cup walnut pieces

Crackers for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰.
  2. Remove the top of the rind from the cheese using a serrated knife, and discard the rind. Place the cheese, cut side up on an oven safe plate or bowl. Just make sure to use a larger plate or a bowl so your cheese doesn’t start oozing off the plate.
  3. Bake at 350⁰ for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with the cranberry sauce. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and warm. Sprinkle the top with orange zest and walnuts.
  5. Serve immediately with crackers.

Note: For a simple cranberry sauce combine 4 ounces cranberries, 1/3 cup orange juice, and ¼ cup sugar.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer till thickened and cranberries have popped.  For extra favor add ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon.

Swiss Chard Turnover

Swiss Chard Turnover

 Swiss Chard Turnovers

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot or small onion, chopped

1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and dried, stemmed, and cut or torn into pieces

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup (or more) shredded cheese, such as Parmesan

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed overnight in the fridge

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400⁰. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot or onion and cook until the shallot becomes translucent. Turn the heat up to medium high, add the chard, and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the greens wilt.  (Avoid cooking the greens to the point that they lose color or give off water).  Season the greens with salt and black pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. On a large cutting board or counter top, unfold the puff pastry. Cut it into six rectangles. Top one end of each rectangle with a mound of the chard mixture, and then top the chard with some of the cheese.
  4. Fold the unfilled end of the puff pastry over the greens, and press the edges to seal the turnover. Place the turnovers on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake the turnover for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. These are best eaten as soon as they’re cool enough, and definitely on the same day.

Yield: Makes 6

Linda

More Recipes from Farewell to the Field tomorrow!

 

 

 

Sex 101

How do you tell the “boys” from the “girls?”  In Monarch butterflies, that is.

The male Monarch butterflies have a scent gland on their lower hindwing that produce pheromones used to attract females:

Above: Male Monarch Butterfly

Above: Male Monarch Butterfly

The females on the other hand have wider veins giving them a somewhat darker appearance:

Above: Female Monarch Butterfly

Above: Female Monarch Butterfly

Our own Dallas County Master Gardener Janet D. Smith, a much requested speaker on such topics as “Sex in the Garden” and pollinators, says the following:  “I couldn’t remember if the black spot indicated if it is a male or female until I realized that it is normally the male of the species who has round things on the lower half of the body.  The darker veins on the female also remind me of eyeliner which for most of my life was only seen on women.”

Janet always gets a laugh from the audience after she tells her way of remembering how to sex Monarch butterflies— and you probably won’t forget how to tell the difference either.

Carolyn

 

Note: Both pictures courtesy of Janet D. Smith

Read the rest of this entry

Celebration of Roses in Farmer’s Branch

Saturday I attended the Farmers Branch Celebration of Roses. What a privilege to hear Mike Shoup of Antique  Rose Emporium fame talk about “Pioneer Roses” and Scott Ogden, landscape artist and author teach the subject of  Moonlit Gardens.

Afterwards I happily wandered through the Farmers Branch Rose Trial gardens at 2610 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch, Texas.

Hundreds of roses are on trial in these gardens from Earth-Kind® Roses to David Austin roses, all displayed and labeled perfectly.

Above: View of Part of the extensive Farmers Branch Rose Garden

Above: View of Part of the extensive Farmers Branch Rose Garden

For example, a rose called Jude the Obscure: “A great favourite of many gardeners. ‘Jude the Obscure’ is very free-flowering, bearing very large, incurved, chalice-shaped flowers. The petals are medium yellow on the inside and pale yellow on the outside. Its award-winning fragrance is extremely strong with a delicious fruity note reminiscent of guava and sweet white wine, which delights all who smell the flower. An excellent short shrub with strong, upright, bushy growth and light green leaves. We recommend planting it near to the house or close a seating area or path, where its delicious perfume can be enjoyed at close quarters. In warmer climates it can be trained as a superb climber. Named after the character in Thomas Hardy’s novel of the same name.”

Thanks to this description from the David Austin website, I will now be reading  Thomas Hardy!

Meet the David Austin Rose, Jude the Obscure

Meet the David Austin Rose, Jude the Obscure

Being a plant nerd, I have always wanted to see the Green Rose.  Yes, there is a rose with green flowers and it is growing in the Farmer’s Branch Rose Gardens.

Close Up of Green Rose

Close Up of Green Rose

Now that I have seen it and compare it to other rose beauties,  I will be shopping David Austin and Pioneer Roses.

Thank you Farmer’s Branch!

Ann

Get to know Farmer’s Branch aka the “City in a Park”.  Last weekend’s events included Bluegrass music, a chili cook off, and arts and crafts along with The Celebration of Roses.  Mark your calendar for future events here.

A Monarch Pit Stop

 

The first semi-cool days around October bring the annual Monarch butterfly migration through Dallas.   Some of the Monarchs, coming from the northern states, follow a corridor through Dallas as they continue on their trip to their wintering grounds in the highlands of Mexico.  These travelers need all the “fuel”/nectar they can get for their long journey.  Even an urban backyard can provide a respite for them.

Picture by Janet D. Smith

Picture by Janet D. Smith

One of the Monarch’s favorite nectar plants is frostweed, Verbesina virginica . It is such an exceptional nectar plant, drawing in not only Monarchs but also Pipevine Butterflies and Great Purple Hairstreaks, that it has been selected as monitoring plant by Monarch Watch.  Dale Clark, local butterfly rancher and founder of the Dallas County Lepidopterists’ Society, says that he has seen Monarch butterflies literally drop out of the sky when they see a patch of frostweed.

Frostweed, a perennial, is a member of the sunflower family.  It will grow in sun but prefers shade or part shade.  It requires very little water.  Because it can grow up to six feet tall, it is best to use it in the back of a border and in a more natural, rather than formal, landscape.  It has large green leaves on a straight, winged stem.  Native Americans would sometimes roll the leaves and smoke them like tobacco.  It blooms in late September through October in Dallas, making it a perfect nectar plant for the migrating Monarchs.  The blooms are large composites, dirty white, and (at least to me) rather drab, but obviously Monarchs, bees, and small wasps see beyond superficial beauty and flock to it in droves.  Even a small group of frostweed plants may be covered with four or five Monarch butterflies on each flower.  It is a sight to behold!!

 

Picture by Larry Waisanen

Picture by Larry Waisanen

Like many plants, especially our native plants, frostweed has several common names. Karen H. Clary in Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine’s October 2012 issue says:  “Frostweed has other names, including iceplant, white crownbeard, Indian tobacco and squawweed.  Native Americans- including the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Mikasuki Seminole- used the leaves to treat fever, chills and body aches, and they used the roots as a purgative to treat indigestion.  Mat t Turner, in Remarkable Plants of Texas, attributes the name “squawweed” to a specific use for women.  Turner notes that the Kickapoo, as late as the 1970’s, were still using hot decoctions of the plant for near-term and post-partum issues, such as cleansing the womb and stanching excessive bleeding.”

Frostweed gets its most commonly used name from the fact that with the first freeze, its stem splits and sap oozes out of the winged stem.   The sap freezes into fantastic ribbons forming mini-ice sculptures.  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center says that “the ice crystals formed on the stems of this and other plant species have been given many names – among them: ice ribbons, ice flowers, ice fringes, ice fingers, ice filaments, ice leaves, frost flowers, frost ribbons, frost freaks, frost beards, frost castles (Forrest M. Mims III http://www.forrestmims.org/gallery.html), crystallofolia (coined by Bob Harms at The University of Texas), rabbit ice and rabbit butter.”

Frostweed after Frost!

Frostweed after Frost!

There is one important fact to remember if you plant frostweed in your garden.  Not only is the “frost” part of its name representative of one of its important characteristics, but the “weed” part is too.  Just be careful, it will reseed freely—and probably in amended soils will spread rapidly by underground rhizomes.  I have my frostweed growing at home in un-amended black gumbo clay soil under the shade of a huge cedar elm.  I am also very careful to immediately cut off any flowers that are going to seed, bag them, and put them in the trash (not the compost pile).  Doing this I have never had problems with frostweed’s being an uncontrollable “weed.”

So, think about doing your part to help the Monarch “fuel up” for their long journey to Mexico.  Frostweed is a great plant for the Monarchs—but just take some extra precautions so it doesn’t become a “weed.”

Carolyn

 

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