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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.

DALLAS BUTTERFLIES

Move over husband Mike.  I’m in love, but I can’t spell—or pronounce–his name.

To bring you up to date, the old 8,000 square foot garden on Joe Field Road is now moved lock, stock, compost pile, tomato support, and rototiller to a fabulous new location at Midway Hills Christian Church, Royal Lane and Midway Road.  We also have a new name, Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, an Earth-Kind ® Water/Wise Demonstration Garden, a collaboration of the Dallas County Master Gardener Association, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, and Midway Hills Christian Church.

Midway Hills Christian Church, Site of our New Garden

Midway Hills Christian Church, Site of our New Garden

MHCC has generously offered us a 100’x300’ field for a new garden and plans are hatching.  Just like butterflies will—we hope—this spring.

We brainstormed the components that we wanted to bring (or not) to the new garden: vegetables, an education garden, and a wildlife habitat. And some new things we wanted to feature, like urban trees and turf.  But probably tops on people’s list was a butterfly garden.

Which brings me to my new love: skippers, brushfoots (not “feet), whites, sulphurs, blues, hairstreaks, and swallowtails.  I’d like to learn to be a lepidopterist, but I’ve got to set some time aside to learn to roll out that moniker.

Diving into Butterflies of Texas by Geyata Ajilvsgi and the Dallas County Lepidopterist’s Society website maintained by Dallas butterfly expert Dale Clark was absolutely fascinating.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

I learned if you want to attract grass skippers, you need an abundance of host grasses like bluestem and side-oats gramma in your garden.

Most gardeners know to plant dill, fennel, parsley, and rue for swallowtail caterpillars, but they also have a hankering for citrus, celery and Queen Anne’s Lace.

We’re familiar with the Pirinae family of sulphur’s and white’s passion for broccoli and cabbage. But the Coliadinae family of whites and sulphurs pine more for senna, marigolds, clover, and false indigo for host plants.

Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies on Turk's Cap, Photo by Janet D. Smith

Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies on Turk’s Cap, Photo by Janet D. Smith

Hairstreaks look for oaks, mistletoe, Texas bluebonnets and okra. Blues are thrilled with frostweed, lima and garden beans, and snouts want sugarberry and net-leaf hackberry. Fritillaries swoon for maypop and passionvines, monarchs for milkweed.

Brushfoots remind me of a 17-year-old football player.  They’ll clean out your garden “refrigerator” of almost everything.  Wildflowers to thistles to American elm, to frogfruit are on the host plant menu.

As we’re planning the garden, there’s more to think about than host and nectar plants.  You want your plants in full sun (more nectar), have enough water to prevent wilting (nectar stops with inadequate moisture), use favorite colors of purple, pink, yellow and white, and include a variety of bloom shapes.  Some little guys forego the nectar plants and pull over for old fruit, a fermented sugar mixture, or a damp salt and sand mixture for amino acids.  Rocks and logs in the sun give a spot for basking.  Old logs and brush provide Red Admirals and Mourning Cloaks a spot for hibernating.

The monarch has gotten a lot of press lately concerning the declining amount of milkweed necessary for its caterpillars.  We plan on having a Monarch Waystation, based on recommendations from Monarch Watch, filled with native and tropical milkweed for the trip north and favorite nectar plants for the fall migration to Mexico.

Monarch Butterflies Nectaring on Blue Salvia at our Old Location

Monarch Butterflies Nectaring on Blue Salvia at our Old Location

 

As our plans take place, we are looking forward to late spring and summer, and we hope, a large garden full of fluttering beauties.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla and Ann and Janet

More about Monarchs!

 

Thankfulness 2014

Our industrious group has had two bake sales in the last two months to raise money for our new garden: The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.   It takes a lot of planning, baking, and w-o-r-k to pull off these events.

Sue. Elizabeth, and Linda, Cooking and Planning

Sue. Elizabeth, and Linda, Cooking and Planning

We would like to thank many of  you for supporting us by sending you these recipes for your holiday feasts.

Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 apple peeled and finely chopped (Granny Smith, Pink Lady etc.)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 Tablespoons sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Fold in diced apples. Scoop batter into greased muffin tin filling 2/3 full.
  3. Mix together 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 2 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle over top of muffin batter.
  4. Bake muffins at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes or until done in center. Cool slightly and serve.

 

October 2014 Dallas County Master Gardener Craft Fair

October 2014 Dallas County Master Gardener Craft Fair

Pumpkin-Pistachio Breakfast Bread

A yummy holiday bread that’s worthy of gift giving.

 Ingredients:

1 ½ cups butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 ½ cups canned mashed pumpkin

1 cup raisins

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1 ½ cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

  1. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; add to butter mixture alternately with pumpkin, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in raisins and vanilla.
  2. Spread batter into a greased and floured 13” x 9” pan; sprinkle with Pistachio Topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.
  3. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk in a small bowl until smooth, using a wire whisk. Using whisk, drizzle cream cheese mixture over cake.

Yield: 12 servings

Linda

Pictures by Starla

For more Thanksgiving recipes refer to: Farewell to the Field and More Recipes from Farewell to the Field

 

 

 

 

 

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

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