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Author Archives: Dallas Garden Buzz

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


  • 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 Miracle-Gro Blood Meal (12-0-0), 2 Tbsp Dr Earth (4-6-3)

Week 2 – Plant tomatoes

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

Week 16 – 1 Tbsp Miracle-Gro 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



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


Rose Rosette Disease Research Update

Apple Trees Espaliered

We have planted 4 varieties of apple trees at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Jim gives us the names of the apples and a lesson in espalier in this utube video.

Tomorrow morning, March 6th between 9 and noon, Jeff Raska will be at The Raincatcher’s Garden to prune our new apple trees and our peach and plum trees. Join us!

Video by Starla Willis

Apple talk by Jim Dempsey

More about out orchard varieties here.



A Winter’s Wonder, Lonicera fragrantissima

Just when you need it the most, Lonicera fragrantissima, also known as Winter Honeysuckle bursts on the scene with its powerful scent and dainty little creamy flowers.

The blooms provide pollen and nectar to bees who are foraging on a winter’s day.

When you plan your garden, get used to including other’s needs, especially our pollinators.  Winter can be a bleak time for overwintering butterflies and bees.

Dr. William Welch suggests planting Winter Honeysuckle by a gate so when you brush by it you can enjoy the scent.  It can be grown in partial shade or full sun.  For a look at it in full sun, click here.

If you arrive early at the next *Texas Discovery Garden sale,  you might be able to take home your own small start of this fast growing fragrant bush.

Ann Lamb

*Texas Discovery Garden Sale-April 6-8, 2018

More info about Lonicera fragrantissima right here on Dallas Garden Buzz!




“If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If a white post is left alone it will soon be a black post”  GK Chesterton said that in 1908.  He went on to say that it takes constant vigilance just to keep things the same.

Perhaps garden cleaning is not the first thing that comes to mind when reading Mr. Chesterton’s words. Perhaps the healthy eating plan was not carefully followed during the holiday and sadly things did not remain the same.

But now think about the garden. The natural look is wonderful however it actually requires the constant vigilance to maintain.  When a few plants overtake their companions and then move on to cover paths and obliterate borders, that is no longer really any look at all.  The fact is action is required if a space is  to be a garden.

Roger cleaning up the garden and putting fallen leaves to good use by shredding them for garden mulch. Yeah Roger!

Susan trimming back plants in our herb garden.

So, it is time for garden clean up. It’s a job with no glamour and little thanks but gardeners are tough and the time is NOW.

Susan Thornbury

pictures by Starla Willis

  • More garden clean up specifics will be posted next week. Get your tools ready!
  • It’s time to prune roses in Dallas. Click here for information.
  • Apple trees at Raincatcher’s Garden? Yes! Subscribe to our blog for future posts. We will give all our succulent secrets about planting apples.
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