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WELCOME TO DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ

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 Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, a Research, Education and Demonstration garden at 11001 Midway Road in Dallas.

DALLAS GARDEN BUZZ is written by Dallas County Master Gardeners, volunteers trained by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

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Peach Tree Pruning

Next summer the peaches you enjoy will be the result of hard work on the part of orchard growers all across Texas. Whether you enjoy East Texas peaches, Parker County peaches, the ‘redskin’ peaches from the hill country or any others remember peach orchards are labor intensive operations. In our small orchard, we gathered around our peach tree as Jeff Raska clipped away at it.

Here’s some of what we learned:

Prune  your peach tree for the best possible peaches at picking height, as disease free as possible, with maximum production. Our peach tree tops out at 8 feet and has 4-5 main branches.

  • Your peach tree should be open in the center so that the fruit receives maximum sunlight and air flow. They call this the wine goblet effect.

    Can you find the goblet shape in the peach tree above?

  • Cut off dead wood, suckers and all branches that cross.
  • Remove any spindly, pencil-thin branches and any that are growing toward the interior of the tree.
  • Remove older gray shoots; they will not fruit. Leave 1 year old reddish color shoots.
  • Remove limbs that grow straight up.  They are called water limbs. We removed 2 water limbs, 10 feet each.
  • Prune out any branches that are growing horizontal or downward. They have a tendency to break when the fruit gets heavy.
  • Cut back the remaining red shoots to about 18 inches, at an outward facing bud.

    Above: The angle of this cut causes the branch to grow away from the center of the tree.

Fruit thinning will be the next major job.  Fruit thinning can be done by hand when the fruit is the size of a quarter. This allows the remaining fruit to be larger and spaced out on alternate sides of the branches. A mature peach tree should produce 300-400 peaches in a season.

Ann Lamb

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

Maybe now you want to try grape pruning and planting, Saturday, April 14th from 10am-11:30am. This class will be taught by Stephen Hudkins at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Info here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Class Series on Vegetable Gardening to Begin at The Raincatcher’s Garden 2018

We are excited to announce the first in a series of four classes  to be taught at our garden during 2018. Our first class featuring mustard greens, swiss chard, broccoli, collard greens and other spring harvested crops will be taught using our new Edible Garden. Sign up for the lunch following the class.

 Garden Greens Class

What’s in our Spring Picnic Basket?

Everyone welcome, bring a friend!

 Planting, growing, harvesting and enjoying healthy, colorful green vegetables from your garden will  be the class topic.

Tuesday, April 17th, 10:00am at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas

Led by, Jeff Raska, Dallas County Horticulture Program Assistant, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

This class qualifies for one-hour education credit for Master Gardeners.

Join us for a reservation only garden lunch sampler following Jeff’s presentation.

Menu

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens

Spicy Mustard Greens Pesto on Baguette Slices

Minestrone Soup with Swiss Chard

Spring Quiche with Leeks and Sorrel

The Ultimate Classic Collard Greens

Chocolate Crème de Menthe Brownies

Your lunch reservation is a $15 check made payable to DCMGA

Mail to: Lisa Centala, 5525 Northmoor Dr. Dallas 75230

Reservations close on Saturday, April 14th

Class and Lunch open to the public.

April Plant Sales 2018

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE GREEN AND MOSTLY PURCHASED AT PLANT SALES SUCH AS THESE!

Mark your calendars to attend all three. Open to the public!

 

Above: Raincatcher’s Sale, something for every garden.

Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale

3601 Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard (Gate 6 at Fair )

MEMBER’S PREVIEW SALE: APRIL 6, 4-7 PM
PUBLIC SALE: APRIL 7 & 8, 10 AM-2 PM

Find more than 600 varieties of rare native and adapted pollinator-friendly plants. Many can’t be found in local nurseries! Our Members’ Plant Sale allows you to shop before the Saturday rush! Members also receive 10% off plants.

For more information including plant list click here

 

22nd Annual Plant Sale at Multiple Careers Magnet School

April 18: 10am-6pm and April 19: 11am-1pm

Selling herbs, perennials for sun and shade, vegetables donated and grown by Dallas County Master Gardeners and their green thumbed students. Pots and Planters, too!

Cash or Check only

4528 Rusk Avenue, 75204

Garden entrance on Deere behind the school

Proceeds will purchase garden supplies for the 2018-19 school year.

 

The Raincatcher’s Plant Sale

April 26th before and after the DCMGA monthly meeting (meeting starts at 11:30am)

10:00am-2:00pm

11001 Midway Road, Courtyard area of Midway Hills Christian Church

Selling perennials, annuals, tomato plants, and tomato cages crafted by members of The Raincatcher’s Garden. Plants are grown by Dallas County Master Gardeners.

Proceeds will benefit the ongoing demonstration, research and education outreach efforts of The Raincatcher’s Garden.

Cash, check, or credit card accepted

For more information about these sales, call the Dallas County Master Gardener Help Desk 214 904 3053

Ann Lamb

pictures by Starla Willis

2018 Summer Garden Plans

Raincatcher’s Garden Plots Spring 2018

Several weeks ago I was the fly on the wall listening to the greats of our garden map out future garden beds.

As you know from our last post, our 3  trial beds will have Celebrity tomatoes. One bed will be fertilized with chemical fertilizer, one with organic and one will receive compost.  Tomatoes will be weighed and plants measured to determine which method of fertilization is best.

Jim has started Black Krim and Purple Cherokee Tomatoes by seed.

We will also grow San Marzano tomatoes at Linda’s suggestion. These are the only tomatoes we will grow without a cage. Linda had great success letting her San Marzano sprawl across her garden bed rather than being contained in a cage. Linda says the thick cover of the plant kept the squirrels away. Really, Linda? I am going to give that a try.

Pepper plants will be in #3.  Poblano, Serranos, Hot Boss Big Man and Sweet Gypsy are on our list. Sue savored the Sweet Gypsy peppers.  And yes, Hot Big Boss Man is the name of a hybrid pepper, a cross between an ancho and  poblano.  More info here.

Cucumbers and Eggplant to be planted later in bed #5 and notice long beans will also have a home there.

Contender and Goldmine beans will be planted April 1st.

Okra will be planted  in 6 when the onions and garlic are pulled.

Blackeyed peas will grow on a trellis all summer says Dorothy.

We are out of room! What about pumpkins you say? Jim suggested planting them around the fig tree in the field.

If you need a vegetable planting guide, here are two we have relied on:

North Texas Planting Guide by TAMU

NHG Planting Guide

Be sure to tap our new Master Gardener website for a wealth of information.

Ann Lamb

Plot Plan by Dorothy Shockley

We Are Serious About Homegrown Tomatoes!

Every year at Raincatcher’s Garden we have had a bumper crop of tomatoes.  Not so last year. Not enough water and too much fertilizer caused the problem. Well, we are not going to duplicate that this year.

Jeff Raska, our horticulture program assistant, has put the “R” back in our Research, Education, and Demo title. We are embarking on tomato trials with the goal of higher and better tomato production. Jeff reminds us that his tomato plants at his home produce 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant. Ok, Jeff! Game on!

Fertilization Comparison Study 2018

Week 1-March 20, 2018

Celebrity Tomatoes

Protocol:

  • Prepare three raised beds and plant two tomato plants in each. Fertilize each bed with a different fertilizer (compost, organic, chemical) following label directions.
  • Each fertilizer is slow release and requires re-application every eight weeks.
  • Each Tuesday, measure the plant heights and weigh and record any tomatoes that are harvested.

    Syann dutifully measuring tomato plants last year. She has agreed to help with our 2018 study.

     

Bed #9- Compost

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 cup Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 cup  Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Week 16 – 1 cup Miracle-Gro Compost (1-0-0)

Bed #1- Organic Fertilizer

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 Tbsp  Blood Meal (12-0-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 Tbsp Bone Meal (6-9-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Week 16 – 1 Tbsp Bone Meal (6-9-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Bed  #2- Chemical Fertilizer

Week 1 – 1 Tbsp Epsom salts, 1 Tbsp Vigoro, Tomato & Vegetable (12-10-5)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

Week 8 – 1 Tbsp Vigoro,Bold Flowers (15-30-15)

Week 16 – 1 Tbsp Vigoro, Bold Flowers (15-30-15)

 

Celebrity tomatoes characteristics: All-American Winner Selection, 7 oz, determinate, harvest 70 days. Tom Wilten calls Celebrity the preeminent mid-sized tomato.

 

Fertlization Comparison study write up by Jim Dempsey.

Picture by Starla Willis

Ann Lamb

Read up on tomatoes by using our search box. We have recipes, growing tips, and advice to produce tons of tomatoes.

 

 

Rose Rosette Instructions

Thank you, Maddie Shires!

Video by Starla Willis

A Gardener’s Fright

Rose Rosette, Now What

 

A TREASURE IS A WEED AND A WEED IS A TREASURE

This is a KOAN or paradoxical thought koans are used to open the mind so new ways of thinking can find room. So will it work??  It’s worth at least a try.

The first part is easy. No matter what one’s belief system, there surely have been warnings of the danger inherent in a reliance on earthy possessions.

The second part—A weed is a treasure—That does seem to require an open mind and a new way of thinking.

How can it be that a weed becomes a treasure?

The first step—get into the garden and get to work. Already the gardener is reaping benefits both physical and mental—looking for weeds just cannot be done from a distance.

Finding weeds develops the mind—each green thing must be evaluated—remember self-seeding annuals and baby perennials are there too so care is needed. Learning to identify plants is a valuable skill—now you have more to share with others!

Larkspur is a self seeding annual, so it gets to stay!

Careful garden work can reveal when a plant has taken more than its fair share of resources—its become a weed—action can be taken before this overly ambitious plant smothers its neighbors.

Henbit, you are crowding verbena. You must go!

When a weed is removed space and water and nutrients are now available for another plant to thrive.

While looking for weeds—don’t forget to look around—at weed level beautiful tiny things are seen that would be missed otherwise.

The gardener sees the space become more beautiful—what a happy sense of accomplishment that all started with seeing a weed. So maybe weeds are more like TREASURE MAPS.  Valuable because they lead us to see what can be done to make our spaces  beautiful.

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla

 

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