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Happy Thanksgiving 2021

From our Herb Garden to you…

  Thanksgiving Blessings!

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Featured Herbs: Bay Laurel, Blue Borage, Curry, Fennel, Mint, Purple Sage, Rosemary, Chocolate, Lavender, Old-Fashioned Rose and Peach Scented Pelargoniums, White-leaved Savory



With appreciation from The Raincatcher’s Team!

More Vegetable Gardens at Raincatcher’s

The Raincatcher’s team has been busy putting in new gardens. Led by Leonard Nadalo and Beverly Allen a ridge and furrow garden was built in October with the purpose of growing food for the North Dallas Shared Ministries’ food pantry and demonstrating an alternative to raised bed gardening on our clay soil. It is aptly named The Donation Garden. One of our turf beds has also become a new veggie plot and is the home for turnips, beets, spinach and some struggling carrots.

Enjoy a look at seedlings of butter crunch lettuce, Georgia southern collards, Chinese broccoli yod fah, and purple top white glove turnips.

If all this planting is making you crave cruciferous crops, don’t delay. It is a little late to start seeds outdoors but transplants are available at garden centers. Which brings me to an important discovery: mini broccolis (thanks Beverly!) We planted Broccoli Atlantis F1 by seed in our garden.

It is called a mini because it is harvested mainly from side shoots that are smaller than what you buy in your grocery store. When you harvest the center first, side shoots branch out and can be harvested all through the winter. Other mini broccolis, such as Artwork F1, are also available as transplants at local garden centers.

The vegetable team has plans for the future that include increasing the production capacity of The Donation Garden and finding a carrot variety that can get happy in Zone 8a. 

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005 with additional information by Beverly Allen, class of 2018

Photo of Broccoli Artwork F1 courtesy of All-America Selections 

Note: We chose Atlantis F1 for it’s shorter days to maturity (33) when compared to standard broccoli (56 or greater).

Serenading the Snapdragons

Sunflower girl, as she is affectionately called, stands proudly in our garden as a reminder to pause for a moment of rest and relaxation. The quite, gentle sounds of her music take me back to a time in my life, when I too, enjoyed playing simple melodies on my flute.

She was a gift many years ago from my husband who somehow knew that her presence in the garden would make me smile. We named her “Sunflower Girl” as a tribute to my love of mammoth sunflowers. But the flute she gently caresses in her hands speaks sweetly to me of bygone days.

Seasonal changes in this small area of our garden seem to grace her with an elegance that she wears well.  Fall is especially joyful as the snapdragons surrounding her are bursting with a beautiful display of calming colors. I can’t think of a flower that would be more appropriate for my sweet sunflower girl to be serenading.

Snapdragons will always have a place in my garden, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned the answer to a perplexing question. Why are they called snapdragons, anyway? Thanks to “the spruce” for this rather comical but accurate answer. ‘The common name derives from the shape of the individual flower heads, which resemble the snout of a dragon, and which even open and close in a snapping motion, as often happens when pollinators open the jaw to reach the pollen’.

Snapdragons should be planted in springtime or fall in a full sun location with well-draining soil. After planting, clip the top stem and any long side shoots to encourage more flowers. When blooms begin to fade during summer’s heat, clip the plant by one-third to one-half and expect more blooms when temperatures begin to cool in fall. Keep evenly moist but let the soil dry out about an inch deep before watering.

The showy blooms of snapdragons are delightful to use in floral arrangements but, for me, that would leave a lonely sunflower girl with no one to serenade. The lyrical melodies she plays for them is a refreshing sound in my garden. Just listen, isn’t that the chirpy opening to Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major filling the air?

Note: Local garden centers currently have a wonderful variety of snapdragons in stock.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Snapdragons are long lasting and rabbit resistant. Read more about them here.

Saying our Seasonal Farewell to Roselle Hibiscus

 

Join Linda Alexander and Beverly Allen for a “Pop Up” Presentation 

Friday, November 5th, 1:00pm

Shade Pavilion, Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills

11001 Midway Road 

Limited to 30 * Please RSVP

Master Gardeners Earn 1 Hour CEU

Sit back, relax and enjoy a refreshing cup of Roselle Hibiscus tea along with a taste of lightly sauteed hibiscus leaves, cookies and jam.

The season for growing Roselle Hibiscus is ending. Let’s bid farewell to a garden favorite with a closer look at this amazing plant. In this class you will learn some of the following:

*Why everyone should be growing Roselle Hibiscus

*When and where to plant

*Growing characteristics

*Using the plant from leaves to flowers and seeds

Class concludes with a tour of our Roselle Hibiscus plants where you will be given an opportunity to harvest some seed pods for next year’s crop.

Sign up today here. Class RSVP open until noon on Thursday, November 4th.

Edible Landscape News for 2022

Over four years ago, plans were approved for a new Dallas County Master Gardener project on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church. The area once used as a children’s playground would be repurposed as an edible landscape. Our mission was to provide attractive and easy to implement landscape design ideas using only edible plant material. 

As the space has evolved, our volunteer team has grown in our understanding of seasonal expectations and requirements. Through numerous failures we’ve learned how environmental factors such as soil structure, shade, moisture and even pest invasions can teach you how to be a better gardener. Thankfully, we’ve also enjoyed great success while venturing into new avenues with different varieties of plants. It has been fun to celebrate those victories.

Looking ahead, we believe that it is now time to move the edible landscape forward with a slightly different approach. Starting this fall, our edible landscape team will begin the process of integrating non-edibles into our lovely garden spaces. This will give us the ability to demonstrate, more fully, how to creatively use both edibles and non-edibles together in well-planned garden projects. We’re hopeful, that as we introduce an artistic palette of harmonious colors, shapes and textures, others will be inspired to use them also.

We invite you to join us in this journey as we continue to explore exciting new possibilities. Our desire is to provide a place where the natural world gives you a feeling of peace and serenity. As the garden evolves may your spirits be lifted and your soul refreshed.

Linda Alexander and Fern Brown, Co Leaders

Beverly Allen, Research and Seed Selection Coordinator

In honor of our new Co Leader, Fern Brown, it seemed very appropriate that the first non-edible introduction to the Edible Landscape Garden would be a lovely assortment of “ferns”. A “tip of the hat” to Fern for donating holly ferns from her yard to get us started.

The Fragrance of Fall

Just a few steps into the garden and the air is suddenly filled with a soothing fragrance that leaves you mystified and, yet, curious to find its aromatic source. Moving closer in, hints of heady anise softened with a gentle touch of sweetness begins to calm your spirits. It only takes a moment to realize that you’ve been drawn into an intriguing area of the garden overflowing with the intoxicating fragrance of Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida).

Also known by its other names, Winter Tarragon, Texas Tarragon and yerba anise, this semi hardy perennial makes a spectacular showing in the fall garden. Slender stems rising unbranched from the base comprise the upright clumping shape of each plant. Tiny buds that started forming in late summer find their glory in the sunny days of autumn. Golden yellow clusters of marigold-like flowers dance gently across 3 feet tall stems in a show-stopping performance.

 

Mexican Mint Marigold in the Edible Landscape at Raincatcher’s Garden

Mexican Mint Marigold originated in the cool mountains of Mexico but has become a superstar addition to many Texas gardens. Grow it from seed sown after danger of frost has passed or divide plants in spring or fall. One simple suggestion is to arch a stem to the ground, cover the center with soil, and the stem will often root at the nodes. For optimum flower production plants should be located in an area that receives full sun to moderate afternoon shade. 

You’ll find Mexican Mint Marigold used as a substitute for the more temperamental herb, French Tarragon. Both the flowers and leaves are edible and used often in teas, salads, poultry and fish dishes. For a heavenly taste explosion use the leaves in an irresistible dessert we discovered a few years ago, Strawberry Sorbet with Texas Tarragon. 

Strawberry Sorbet with Texas Tarragon

Don’t be disappointed when your Mexican Mint Marigold plants take their winter nap. After dying down to the ground for a few months, they will reappear again in Spring just in time to start rehearsing for their next performance.

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

The North Garden at Raincatcher’s

he North Garden continues to thrive with a crew of three to five gardeners on Mondays and help with hardscaping from the regular workday group on Tuesdays. 

We were especially grateful for the substantial progress made on Intern Day in the new Donation Garden where we will be demonstrating ridge and furrow gardening and donating the produce to area food banks. 

Making progress on the Donation Garden

This week we harvested peppers, okra and pole beans and put together 10 family packs of the vegetables for donation. There were plenty of peppers left for the jam and jelly team to make their popular jalapeño jelly. We also harvested the calyces of Roselle Hibiscus for jam.

Monday’s Harvest

Vegetables packed for donating

The pepper varieties we have growing are North Star, Gypsy, Jimmy Nardello, Tajin, Emerald Fire, Poblano, and Sweet Roaster.  North Star and Gypsy peppers are heavy producers and 0 on the Scoville Scale. North Star is known for production under a wide range of conditions. Both it and the Gypsy variety are very easy to grow. The Jimmy Nardello peppers are not quite as productive but they have an excellent sweet taste and nice crispy texture.

The Tajin and Emerald Fire are very productive jalapeño hybrids with low to moderate degrees of spiciness.  We didn’t see many Poblanos in the Spring and Summer but now that temperatures have dropped, the plants are heavily laden with mild green peppers.  The Sweet Roasters were productive and flavorful but unexpectedly hot.

We also grew Clemson Spineless and Hill Country Red okra. The Clemson Spineless is very productive but must be harvested daily to keep the pods from getting tough and stringy. The Hill Country Red is not as productive but it tastes great and the pods are very tender despite their ridged barrel shape. 

The Northeaster pole beans are surprisingly delicious. Several gardeners and visitors have tasted them in the garden and all were in agreement that they were very enjoyable even uncooked. 

Raincatchers volunteers are always welcome to sample any produce growing in the North Garden. It’s a great way to tell if you would like to grow the same variety in your home garden.

Beverly Allen, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2018 

Raincatcher’s Pansy and Plant Sale

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is pleased to offer pansies and violas at a fantastic price for your fall and winter landscape color. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. Pansy blooms are larger than viola blooms, but violas are reported to have more blooms per plant and be somewhat more cold-tolerant. We love them both! We’ve also added alyssum this year – so pretty in container plantings. All plants are sold in 18-count flats of 4” pots.

Sale Date: 10/7 at 7am through 10/11 at noon.  All flats $19 (including tax)

Pick up purchased plants at Raincatcher’s on Wednesday, 10/27, 1-4pm (details below)

All pansy orders must be paid for by Thursday, October 14th. If you opt out of paying through Signup Genius, you may bring cash (exact change only please) or check made out to DCMGA to the Raincatcher’s Garden on Tuesday, 10/12, from 9am until noon or email Lisa Centala at lcentala@gmail.com to make other arrangements. 

All prepaid pansies and plants may be picked up at Raincatcher’s from the shade pavilion in the north garden on Wednesday, 10/27, from 1pm until 4pm. Raincatcher’s is located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church at 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, TX. We offer delivery in the Dallas area for large orders of 10 flats or more. Please indicate “delivery requested” in the comments section of the signup, and we will notify you to make arrangements. Volunteers will be available to help pull and load your order.

Place your order using the following link:

Sale Dates: 10/7 at 7am through 10/11 at noon.  All flats $19

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805084EAFAD22A4FC1-raincatchers7

Thank you for your order!

Why Fall Is For Planting

A Fall View of The Raincatcher’s Garden

Fall in Texas is a relief. The air is cooler, welcome rains return and the searing temperatures of summer that last into the night dissipate. It is also a time for planting. 

Fall is the best time to get ready for next year’s growing season. The cooler air and warm soil temperatures are ideal for establishing new transplants. Trees, shrubs and perennials planted in fall, develop strong roots and continue to grow through our mild winters and thus, are more established when hot summer weather arrives.

If you choose to plant in the fall, your perennials will bloom more profusely the following spring than spring plantings. This head start will help new plants take off earlier and more vigorously and be in better shape to face the challenging conditions of our summers.

Timing is everything. Hopefully, you are ready to dig!

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005

Pansy Lovers: In the next few days, information will be coming to you on Dallas Garden Buzz about our pansy sale. The prices are super and the selection is excellent. Your purchase helps us. I am doubling what I bought last year!

The Love Language of Herbs

In our search to connect with others and the natural world around us, the joy of using herbs is a delightful way to embrace nature’s love language. Learning the meaning of herbs and including them in our daily lives provides us with beautiful ways of expressing feelings of gratitude, kindness, love and affection for others. Open your heart to the love language of herbs. Let them speak their special language for all to enjoy.

Anise, Anise Hyssop (Cleanliness)  

Basil (Love) Bay Laurel (Success) Borage (Courage)

Calendula (Health) Chamomile (Comfort)

Dill (Passion) Fennel (Worthy of Praise)

Lavender (Devotion) Lemon Balm (Sympathy) Lovage (Strength)

Mint (Virtue) Oregano (Joy) Nasturtium (Patriotism)

Parsley (Gratitude) Rose (Love, Desire) Rosemary (Remembrance)

Sage (Wisdom) French Tarragon (Permanence) Thyme (Courage)

Violet (Loyalty) Yarrow (Healing)

A few simple ideas for creating a personalized gift that expresses your sentiments for someone you care about:

*Fill a small vase with borage blossoms, sage and thyme twigs.  Include a personal note wishing wisdom to a family member facing a difficult decision and courage to take the next step.

*Show your gratitude for a friend’s kindness by baking him a ‘fresh from the garden’ rosemary (for remembrance) spice cake.

*Your daughter just landed her dream job. Send a sweet note accompanied by a beautiful arrangement of fennel (worthy of praise) bay laurel (success) and roses (love).

Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008

Rosemary Spice Cake Recipe

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