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February 10, 2021
Better get out more of those covers for your plants. This arctic blast is lasting through mid-week next week and temperatures are forecast to drop way down into the single digits. I have checked the weather app on my phone much more than I ever checked instagram or any other media platform and my level of anxiety was rising until I talked to Jeff Raska.
Jeff Raska, our county horticultural agent, gave some advice.
Cover all bedding plants even pansies and kale, cover all soft tissue plants and perennials that have broken bud. Shrubs that are marginally cold tolerant may also need a cover. That would include Pittosporum, Indian Hawthorn, and Loropetalum. Boxwood may get frost damage so consider covering them.
Just like us, our plants are not used to this cold weather snap so protection is in order. Fortunately, we may get rain first and Jeff says that will help a ton!
As far as frost cloth versus using bed sheets, Jeff says he has saved many plants with bedsheets. Frost cloth or frost blankets are better and will give better protection, but if you run out of those, empty out your linen closet and put those bed linens over your plants.
Looking out at my yard, I am deciding which plants are my favorites and prioritizing them. My relatively new bed of pittosporum, my giant kale, and the fall planted ShiShi Gashira camellias in front are getting the frost cloth and I may even double it. The huge Indian Hawthorns that flank my front yard beds will also get special treatment. I wish there was a way to help by Chinese Snowball Viburnums that are already blooming. For them, I will have to say a prayer.
In closing, Jeff reminded me that nature happens, Things will grow back, as long as they don’t get root damage. The sun will shine again.
An extra Thanksgiving greeting to all our readers. We think you will enjoy this blog of a fellow Texan. Look at her Leopard plant!
Source: Flowers for a warm Texas fall
Don’t miss out. Our sale ends at 10:00pm tonight. Please take a look at our sign up genius to see the beautiful pansies you can get for $17.00 a flat. Iris like the pretty one pictured below and crinums and plumeria also are available. We are changing the pick up time from Tuesday to Wednesday to accomodate Election Day on Tuesday.
Note new pick up time: November 4th , 9am-1pm for pick up.
Linda Alexander wrote the following article for the magazine, Estate Life Old Preston Hollow and Bluffview (October edition.) It’s a lovely way to introduce friends to our garden. After reading, enjoy a delightful musical and photographic tour of this special place by watching the video at the end of the aritcle. And, remember to visit us anytime.
Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills
Situated just a half block north of the Midway and Royal Lane intersection is a Dallas County Master Gardener project that you are welcome and encouraged to visit. Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is located on the grounds of Midway Hills Christian Church at 11001 Midway Road. Master gardeners are on site every Tuesday from 9am until noon to manage and care for 12 different garden areas. Here you will find lovely examples of unique and beautiful garden demonstrations:
North Garden areas:
*Pollinator Garden – Birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all seem to find their place here. Swallowtails and fritillaries along with small skippers and honeybees are attracted to the flowers of ‘Miss Huff,’ a huge variety of lantana. Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ is a favorite of our large native bees. Painted Ladies and duskywing butterflies find the lovely lavender flowers of prairie verbena to their liking. And, the Eastern Black Swallowtail larvae make good use of the common fennel plant.
*Color Wheel – If you need help creating a specific look in your landscape, check out the options in our color wheel. Lemon thyme, jalapeno peppers and airplane plant are stars of the green spoke. Blue lovers might give Stokesia aster, black and blue salvia and Gregg’s mist a try. For a bold red look, we’re growing autumn red sage, salvia Greggii and amaryllis. If you’re drawn to mellow yellow try growing columbine, rudbeckia and Stella d’Oro lilies in your garden.
*Grape Arbor – This year our Champanel vines produced enough grapes to make over 40 jars of jelly. Yummm! You might be inspired to start your own grape arbor.
Fruit Orchard – Peach, pear and plum trees were perfectly selected, trimmed and shaped per our Dallas County Extension Agent’s instructions to yield maximum production. We’re especially excited about the new apple tree espalier added to the orchard last year.
*Raised Vegetable Beds – Gardening enthusiasts will find good examples of what grows best in our Zone 8 climate every season of the year. Fall and winter crops include tomatoes, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, greens and winter squashes.
*Composting Area – This is the place where food scraps, leaves and grass clippings are turned into the “black gold” of our garden. Digging into a pile of sweet smelling, finished compost is a gardening joy. Applying it to the soil assures us that we are creating a nurturing environment for growing healthy plants.
Central Garden areas:
*Rain Garden – This area directly in front of the church demonstrates the benefit of capturing rainwater overflow and directing it to a low-lying bed filled with plants that thrive in both wet and dry conditions. Look for crinum, purpleheart, purple coneflower, Turk’s cap, dwarf palmetto and American beautyberry.
*Courtyard – Most visible to church members and tenants is an area of sun and shade between church buildings. Ample shade provides the perfect growing conditions for a variety of Japanese maples and redbud trees, bear’s breeches, beautyberries, cast iron plant, hellebores and sedums. Sunny spots welcome a variety of spring- and summer-blooming bulbs, a dramatic candlestick plant, rosemary and hoja santa among many others.
*The Edible Landscape – Located directly behind the church is an old, abandoned children’s playground where we introduced the concept of combining food with landscaping. Throughout the garden we demonstrate creative ways to integrate edibles into traditional beds and borders. It’s a daunting task to follow the criteria that every plant added to this garden must have at least one part that is edible. With over 75% shade and small pockets of sun to work with, our greatest challenge is finding innovative ways to create an edible landscape each season of the year. We are constantly searching for the lesser-known edible annuals, perennials and evergreens to use in creating a pleasing design aesthetic. Sweet woodruff, variegated society garlic and dwarf trailing sweet myrtle are some new examples of adding style and beauty to our edible landscape.
Raincatcher’s garden is a unique place to visit. We often meet guests who come just to experience the tranquility of a quiet and relaxing environment. Others come to have their senses stirred by the vast array of blooming flowers or herb-lined pathways filling the air with their fragrance. Many come for the educational programs and helpful information which can be applied to the home garden. Children delight in finding caterpillars chomping away on the fennel or monarch butterflies darting from one bloom to the next.
Starting in late winter and spring of 2021 we hope to resume our educational agenda of lectures, seminars, tasting lunches and tours of the garden. Follow us on dallasgardenbuzz.com for a listing of upcoming events and registration information as well as gardening tips and recipes.
When creating and sampling recipes for our 2016 cookbook, A Year On The Plate, these two autumn recipes received rave reviews. There’s still time to plant Swiss chard, turnips and kale for a delicious garden-to-table meal.
Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is a research, education and demonstration garden and project of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Dallas County Master Gardeners located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church.
Video by Starla Willis
Welcome to the 2020 Raincatcher’s Plant Sale, pandemic edition. While there’s nothing we gardeners love more than browsing through the aisles looking for plants, we’re hoping that you’ll do some online shopping instead this week. As Master Gardeners, we’re still being very diligent about observing social distancing guidelines and limiting the size of gatherings.
On the other hand, we’ve been growing, dividing, propagating and digging plants for months in anticipation of this much-needed fundraiser, so this sign-up is our answer to how to share all these well-adapted and well-loved plants with you while keeping both our community and our volunteers safe.
We hope you enjoy browsing the list of creatively arranged and presented plants here.
Here’s how it works:
Sign up to reserve the items you wish to purchase. There’s no need to create an account in Signup Genius, but we will need your email address.
Watch your email for an invoice in the next day or so from the Dallas County Master Gardener Association Square Payment Processing account. Please pay your invoice with a credit or debit card by Monday, June 1st
Come to the garden at Midway Hills Christian Church for a “no-contact” delivery of your plants on Tuesday, June 2nd, between 10am and 1pm. Please protect your vehicle upholstery ahead of time if needed. You will need to remain in your vehicle for Master Gardeners in protective masks and gloves to load your purchases for you.
Please note: volunteers are not allowed to take cash or checks for this sale. All purchases must be prepaid by credit or debit card.
Enter the church parking lot from the south entrance only and drive around to the west side of the property. Please form a single line if others are receiving deliveries ahead of you.
A Master Gardener volunteer will greet you and get your name then direct your vehicle to a loading area.
Another Master Gardener will bring your pre-paid purchases to your vehicle. Please remain in your vehicle and unlock the back door or pop open the trunk or cargo area, and the volunteer will place everything inside for you.
Easy as pie, you’re on your way home with a car full of plants to enjoy this summer!
Raincatcher’s is a research, education and demonstration garden and project of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Dallas County Master Gardeners located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church.
April 5, 2020
Have you seen the commercial that says the only really scarce commodity is TIME? It goes on to say use it wisely.
When the word came that we must stay at home to protect ourselves and others—what did we do?
The fastest among us bought all the paper goods, frozen pizza and soup in the whole city. The slow group was left to plan meals around a stash of canned beets!
No matter how much preparation and buying a problem remained. No one told us that what we really need to stock up on——IDEAS.
As you guessed the two stories are connected. We don’t have more time left than we did before our world changed. Time is still the most scarce and valuable commodity. Its just than now we have an unexpected chunk of (keep this in mind) limited time that won’t be filled by all the usual routines and activities that used to fill so much of our hours and days.
Now of course we need paper towels and possibly even frozen pizza but remember our limited time—we must have meaningful ideas.
Lets narrow it down. Too many ideas can be a problem just like too few. Since we are gardeners—lets start right there. Take a good look at your garden. Is it everything you want it to be? Could you yourself make it better?
Avoid sweeping generalizations especially ones that focus on what others might think. So if a first thought was “my front porch should be better than all the neighbors”. Maybe the thought could instead be “I want to enjoy my front porch and more plants would make more inviting” That is achievable, and achievable by YOU.
Lots of shopping is not advisable but its not necessary. Not when you are open to other possibilities. Maybe you could try making more of the plants you have with cuttings—never had success before?? That was then—you can take better care of them now and maybe success will follow. What about moving some garden plants into pots. If its shady lemon balm or mint could be lovely—and there are usually lots of extras anyway. You will have different goals but the important thing is make a decision, make a plan—but then do it.
We are in a situation almost no one expected or experienced before. It’s uncharted territory. But it did happen and this time is part of the time we have. We can put it to good use, and when time is spent in the garden—the world may be just a bit better for it—now is surely the time for that!
PLEASE NOTE: The time for this event has been moved back a half hour to begin at 10:30. Lunch will begin at 11:30. We hope this will help with storm-related traffic issues.
You may need to allow extra time to get to the garden. Midway Road between 635 and Royal Lane is open, but it may still be closed near Walnut Hill Lane, which is generally still barricaded. Forest Lane is a reasonably good east-west route, but 635 might be better due to traffic signals being out on Forest at the Central Expy and Hillcrest intersections.
Good luck and hope to see you at the garden!
“Pumpkins on Parade, Sweet Potatoes for Adornment”
If you click the eventbrite link below, you can ask for a reminder one hour before tickets go on sale!
Join us for an in-depth look into these harvest-season jewels that have become an intrinsic part of classic autumn fare.
Tuesday, October 22nd
A ‘Grow and Graze’ Event Hosted by the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills
10:00 – 11:00am * 11001 Midway Road * Church Sanctuary
Free Program by Raincatcher’s Vegetable Experts
Immediately following the program, please join us in the Community Hall for Lunch
11:00 – 12:30
$15 per person, Reserved seating for 60, Ticket Sales Begin September 24th
Deadline Tuesday, October 8th
For Lunch Tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pumpkins-on-parade-sweet-potatoes-for-adornment-tickets-72885583743
(Master Gardeners earn two CEU’s if attending both events)
Curried Pumpkin Hummus with Toasted Pita Chips
Harvest Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato and Black-eyed Pea Salad with…
View original post 28 more words
Corn, the golden essence of summer and okra, a garden giant, were the two features at last week’s ‘Grow and Graze’ event. A panel discussion led by master gardener, Linda Alexander also included Dorothy Shockley, master gardener and vegetable specialist, along with Jeff Raska, Horticulture Program Assistant, Dallas County.
Starting with an historical look into the recorded beginnings of both crops, our panelists shared helpful suggestions and tips for growing them in our home gardens.
Some sources say that corn’s true origins date back 10,000 years ago to the pre-Columbian civilization. It is native to southern Mexico.
There are 5 main classes of corn:
Dent – called dent because of the small dent in top of the kernel. Used for livestock, the dinner table when harvested early enough, cornmeal and oil.
Flint – or Indian corn, this the colorful corn used for fall décor.
Flour – used for starches, flour, cornmeal and masa harina.
Popcorn – for popping, also can be colorful. Interestingly, any dried corn will “pop”.
Sweet – open pollinated and hybrid. The hybrid sweet corn is what we find in our markets today.
Growing corn requires full sun, well prepped soil and varieties recommended for our area:
Kandy Korn, Silver Queen, How Sweet it Is, Merit, G90.
Plant corn seed 8” to a foot apart and always in a square or rectangle to help with pollination. Dorothy recommends putting two seeds in each hole and then thinning out the smaller one. Pollination should start in about two months.
Corn takes about 70 to 80 days to maturity. The tassel starts to emerge about 20 days before maturity. In that 20-day period, the most interesting part of the pollination takes place. The tassel, the male part of the plant appears. The tassel has anthers that will open up and spray the pollen. As this is happening, the silks, the female part of the plant emerges from the ear. The silks will be sticky on the ends, which allows the pollen to stick. The leaves will also be collecting some pollen. Along comes the wind blowing that pollen around your corn patch which connects with the silks. This is the main reason for planting corn in a square or rectangle
and not a single row.
Each one of those silks run down that ear, inside the shuck to a kernel. This pollinates the kernel and it starts to swell or fatten and develop.
Remember, when purchasing corn at the grocery or farmer’s market always buy corn with husks still in place. Look for ears that are full, filled out at the base and fresh silks that are not dried out. And, don’t forget to do the “peel back” test to check for freshness and plump, full
kernels. Ideally, fresh corn should be prepared either the same day or within two days.
*Each corn stalk has two ears. Most ears have exactly 16 rows of kernels. Cut an ear of corn crosswise to see the formation. The number of lines may vary but, generally, every ear of corn
has 400 to 600 kernels.
*The average American eats 25 pounds of corn a year. This include everything from corn-on-the-cob, to cornbread, corn syrup, corn starch and, of course, tortillas.
Enjoy these delicious corn recipes from our picnic-style lunch and you might be well on your way to consuming the yearly average of 25 pounds per person.
Santa Fe Corn Soup
3 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (8 to 12 ears), or frozen corn
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup butter
2 cups milk (or 1 cup evaporated milk and 1 cup water)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons canned chiles, rinsed and diced
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
Garnish: Fresh oregano and fried tortilla triangles
Combine corn and chicken broth in blender or food processor and puree.
In 3-quart saucepan combine butter and corn mixture and simmer slowly 5 minutes, stirring to keep corn from sticking to bottom of pan. Add milk, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add chiles and chicken. Simmer 5 minutes.
Remove soup from heat and add cheese and baking soda (to prevent curdling). Stir until melted. To serve, ladle soup into 6 bowls. Top with tomatoes and garnish with tortilla triangles and a sprig of fresh oregano.
Yield: Serve 6
Fresh Corn Cakes with Heirloom Tomato Relish and Tarragon Crème Fraiche
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
¾ cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Tarragon Crème Fraiche (recipe follows)
Heirloom Tomato Relish (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, dill, parsley and tarragon.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg until smooth. Add milk mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in corn kernels.
In a large skillet, pour oil to a depth of ¼ inch. Heat over medium heat. Drop cornmeal mixture by one-fourth cupfuls into hot oil, and cook until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Let drain on paper towels. Serve corn cakes topped with Tarragon Crème Fraiche and Heirloom Tomato Relish. Garnish with herbs, if desired.
Yield: Makes approximately 18
Tarragon Crème Fraiche
1 (8-ounce) container crème fraiche
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
In a medium bowl, stir together crème fraiche, tarragon and mustard. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Yield: Makes approximately 1 cup
Heirloom Tomato Relish
3 large multicolor heirloom tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, olive oil, basil, lemon zest, salt and pepper just before serving.
Yield: Makes approximately 2 cups
Corn and Jalapeno Jelly Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn kernels, defrosted
¼ cup jalapeno pepper jelly
Preheat the oven to 373˚F. Generously butter 12 muffin cups; each 2 ½ inches in diameter.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and pepper flakes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter and corn. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir lightly, using no more than 15 to 20 strokes, to combine.
Fill each muffin cup about half full with batter; reserve ⅓ of the batter. With the back of a teaspoon, make a small depression in the center of each muffin and drop in
1 teaspoon of jalapeno jelly. Divide the reserved batter over the tops to cover the jelly (do not spread the batter).
Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until light golden on top. Let the muffins rest in the pan for about 2 minutes. Using a blunt knife, ease the muffins out onto a wire rack and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Yield: Makes 12 muffins
Esquites: Mexican Street Corn Salad
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed, (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces feta or Cotija cheese, finely crumbled
½ cup finely sliced scallions, green parts only
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a Microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime
Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and charring until corn is well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add mayonnaise, cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4
Chocolate Polenta Pudding Cake
2 ½ cups whole milk
¾ cup coarsely ground cornmeal
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Shredded zest of ½ large orange
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting
In a 2-quart saucepan bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal, ½ cup sugar and the salt in a medium metal bowl. Whisk in the hot milk until smooth.
Wash out the saucepan, fill it two thirds full of water, and bring it to a simmer. Cover the bowl with foil, set it over the water and cook 40 minutes; the polenta will be thick and stiff. Stir three or four times as it cooks and add water to the pan if necessary.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Finely chop three quarters of the chocolate and cut the rest into generous 1-inch pieces.
When the polenta is cooked, remove the bowl (or pan) from the water. Blend in the finely chopped chocolate, the orange zest, cinnamon, pepper, yolks, and vanilla. Place 1 cup of this mixture in another bowl and stir the cream into it. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. Beat in the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, and then whip to soft peaks. Fold a quarter of the whites into the non-cream chocolate-polenta mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the rest, leaving a few white streaks. Fold in the chocolate chunks with one or two strokes. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Using a spoon, hollow out the center of the batter so the polenta-cream mixture will sit in a pocket. Add the cream mixture. Cover with the rest of the batter. Sift the cocoa over the top, the sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 1 hour, or until a knife inserted at the edge of the pudding comes out with moist crumbs on it, but when put into the center, comes out with creamy streaks. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Release the sides of the pan and set the cake on a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar.
Yield: 1 8” cake (8 servings)
Recipe adapted from “The Italian Country Table”
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Blackberry Lemon Verbena Sauce
4 ears fresh corn, shucked
1 ½ cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
6 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ cup sour cream
2 sprigs lemon verbena or ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 ½ cups blackberries (about 6 ounces)
Using a large knife, slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place in a large saucepan. Break cobs in half and add to the pot along with milk, cream and ½ cup sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat. Let stand to infuse for 1 hour, the discard corn cobs.
Using an immersion or regular blender, puree kernel mixture. Return mixture to a simmer, then turn off heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, ⅛ teaspoon salt and another ¼ cup sugar. Add a cup of hot cream mixture to yolks, stirring constantly so they don’t curdle. Add yolk mixture to saucepan, stirring. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes.
Pass custard through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids. Discard solids. Whisk in sour cream until smooth. Let custard cool in an ice bath, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon verbena sprigs (or zest) and ¼ cup water and bring to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and syrup thickens slightly, about 7 minutes. Add blackberries and cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer, until fruit just softens, but doesn’t fall apart. Let cool, then discard verbena.
Freeze corn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve with blackberries and syrup on top. Recipes makes 1 ½ pints.
More recipes to follow later this week.