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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.

Porterweed

How often do you get an entertainment package with a nectar source?

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

My husband has mentioned several times how entertaining the Porter weed is which can be seen through our den windows. We have watched hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees drinking from it.

Now we must say goodbye and hope that it returns from its roots next year. Proper mulch has been applied.

Porterweed comes in several colors and be careful because the names and growth habits will switch according to species or cultivar.

Raincatcher’s has Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis, in our courtyard garden and Lavender Porterweed Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea in our butterfly garden.

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Make a note to look for this favorite nectar source at the Texas Discovery Garden spring plant sale in 2017.

In the meantime, Porterweed, we are going to miss you!

Ann

Hope you read yesterday’s freeze information yesterday and for further info click here.

Note: I have seen Porterweed spelled as two words and one word.

 

 

Freezing Weather Coming…

I talked to Lisa today. She and Jim  were headed to The Raincatcher’s Garden to drain the pipes alongside our cisterns so the pvc wouldn’t crack if we have freezing weather and to make sure all faucets were covered.

Last week our gardeners were busy harvesting green tomatoes, some sugar baby watermelons(one last taste of summer) and herbs that would freeze like thyme, lemon verbena, and lemon balm.  Our basil was already on it’s last legs so only a little bit of it was worth picking.

Ann

Here’s some advice  from seasoned gardeners (hohoho)

about preparing home gardens before a freeze.

We were so lucky this time to have had rain because watering before freezes is so important. Buying  frost cloth is a good investment; the little sack like things are useful.  I just put those on two clumps of narcissus that are just about to bloom; it won’t hurt the plants but the blooms could be destroyed.  I think the kale will be fine but covered it just to be safe  of course all tropical have to be inside–and taking a small clump of lemon grass and just putting in the garage will be sure you have some for the next year. Lemon grass usually comes back but is tropical and can freeze.

Pick all vegetables. Green tomatoes usually ripen spread them out single layer–I use plates and put them in back rooms–my kids used to say they couldn’t sleep without green tomatoes on the dresser!

Susan

I’ve pulled out all my summer veggies, because I like to avoid the ugly frozen plants.

dorothys-frost-coversBecause I have now acquired 5 citrus trees, I don’t have room to move them in, so I covered them and have a light bulb down in the bottom.

Dorothy

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Menu

Thank you to our many readers who have purchased the Dallas County Master Gardener Association cookbook, A Year On The Plate. Copies are available on our website and at North Haven Gardens while supplies last.slide08

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Menu by Linda

Lakewood Elementary School Returns!

Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives. – Thomas Berry

The Raincatcher’s Garden hosted 156 children and 10 teachers and aides from Lakewood Elementary School this week as they learned about vegetables you can grow in your own garden, vermicomposting and the life cycle of worms, pumpkin math, city chickens, compost and gardening to attract butterflies. 

lakewood-sheridanStudents were led to each garden station by happy Master Gardener volunteers like this one!

lakewood-color-wheel

Exploring the garden with all senses is encouraged.

lakewood-vermiculture

And just think if you can hold a red wriggler worm in your hand, the science of vermicomposting may become more interesting.lakewood-field-trip-mg

This is only a fraction of the army of Master Gardeners who helped with the field trip.  Great Job by our Master Gardener Education committee!

Pictures and observations by Starla

 

 

That Doesn’t Look Like Milkweed!

The milkweed section of the April Texas Discovery Garden plant sale is not for the faint of heart. Once the gate is opened, you’ve just got to get in there—elbows flying—and grab.

Turns out, this year we purchased an interloper that hitched a ride to the Raincatcher’s Garden with the native Rose, Common, Green, Green-flowered and Antelope Horns milkweed.  And this milkweed has been turning heads.

The green pods of African Milkweed

The green pods of African Milkweed

African milkweed Asclepias physocarpa or Gomphocarpus physocarpa was a mild mannered herbaceous plant with tiny white star-shaped flowers from August through September.  Then 3-inch pale green, round seedpods covered with soft hair-like spines appeared in October.  None of the Raincatcher’s volunteers had seen anything like it. The spiny pods will fade to red or brown and slowly split to release numerous oval seeds, each with a tuft of silky hairs to catch the wind.

Brown pods obviously

Brown pods with milkweed bug

African milkweed, which is also known as Balloon Plant, Swan Flower and Tennis Ball Plant, is an annual milkweed native to Africa. Its distinctive seedpods are often used in flower arrangements—or as conversation pieces in the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale, November 4th  for members, November 5th for the public. Information here.

Monarchs Tagged in Butterfly Garden at Raincatcher’s

October is peak migration month for millions of Monarchs flying through the “Texas funnel” to overwinter in their ancestral roosts in Michoacan, Mexico. As the Monarchs flutter through the Raincatcher’s Garden, we have also had another visitor— one with a butterfly net.

monarch-tagging-ellen

Master Naturalist Ellen Guiling frequently visits the butterfly garden to capture and tag Monarchs. Ellen hovers by the Greg’s Mistflower, then her butterfly net swooshes and snaps to flip the net sock around the circle of the rim to prevent the butterfly’s escape. She gently folds the Monarch’s wings closed in the net then reaches in to hold the butterfly’s body and remove it.  It takes seconds to press a Monarch Watch tag on the discal cell, a spot on the middle of the lower wing.

monarch-tagging

She quickly checks the sex of the captured Monarch. Two small black dots on the veins of the lower wings signal that this male with his pheromone sacks is probably quite the favorite with the lady Monarchs.  Released into the intense October skies, the Monarch flutters back to the Greg’s Mistflower, ready for his trip south.

Male Monarch-see the spots!

Male Monarch-see the spots!

Ellen has tagged about 40 Monarchs this fall at Raincatcher’s.  After recording the date, location and complete tag numbers with other information, Ellen will send her data sheet to Monarch Watch at monarchwatch.org, the organization that helps create, conserve and protect Monarch habitats.   Tagging data by volunteers has been critical in mapping Monarch migration patterns. Scientists study the tagging results to answer unanswered questions about Monarch migration, such as whether migration is influenced by the weather and if there are differences in migration from year to year.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

More about Monarchs:

A Monarch Pit Stop

Butterfly Migration

Butterflies at the Raincatcher’s Garden

Dallas Butterflies

 

Raincatcher’s Fall Veggie Garden

Please take a minute to go to this link to see information about our fall vegetable gardens. This link contains names of varieties, spacing information, and you can enlarge the plot plan for easier viewing.  Thank you, Dorothy, for setting this up for us! https://www.growveg.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=777788

Don’t forget tomorrow’s garden tour and sale of our cookbook, A YEAR ON THE PLATE, at 5030 Shadywood.

Questions? Leave a comment, we will answer or call the Master Gardener help desk at 214 904 3053.

Ann

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