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Category Archives: Vegetable Gardening in Dallas

Protecting Fig Trees and Grapes

July 20, 2019

To protect your fig trees from hungry birds, cover the tree canopy with bird netting.  The netting operation needs to be completed before the fruit begins to ripen. Timing is critical. Generally the birds leave unripened fruit alone but once the fig or grape shows color they are all in for their feast and little will be left for you.

This was our project last week at Raincatcher’s. We were lucky enough to have Captain in the US Army and Dallas County Master Gardener, Jon Maxwell, leading us.

Netting for the fig was from Lowes; netting for the grapes was purchased on line as it needed to be larger, 28′ x 28′ vs 14′ x 14′ from box stores.

Jon’s tips for bird netting application-have a lot of help and keep your fig tree pruned short.

Above you see Jim Miller, Jon Maxwell and one of our Dallas County Master Gardeners interns at work.

Annette Latham is a steady help with the net in the top picture.

The netting was large enough to basically hang to the ground, so heavy objects were placed at the bottom  to help hold it in place.  Mockingbirds, who love figs and grapes, have been quite furious!!

Written by Ann Lamb as explained by Jon Maxwell

Pictures by Starla Willis


Looking forward to fig harvest? Here’s few fig recipes from last year’s Grow and Graze event

Don’t forget Grilled Figs with Thyme Honey and Gorgonzola Toasts.

By the way, if you are interested in the Dallas County Master Gardener program, call our help desk at 214- 904 -3053 or go to our website here. Classes start in January when it’s cool!

 

What’s Growing in July Vegetable Gardens in Dallas?

July 16, 2019

Dallas County Master Gardener, Ruth Klein has joined the The Raincatcher’s Garden Team to work in the vegetable garden.  I asked her a few questions about what’s growing at Raincatcher’s.  Her advice-go tropical!

Thanks, Ruth!

July tends to be a slow time in Dallas for vegetable gardening except for black eyed peas, okra, and sweet potatoes.  We introduced some tropical crops which needed to be trellised.

To make use of the materials already in the garden,  we rummaged through the shed and found some lavender colored PVC pipes.  We bent them between the beds and stuck them in the soil.  This was not stable enough for Dallas winds, so the guys , led by Jon Maxwell, purchased PVC connector pieces and put them on the top of the arches.   The arches were then covered with bird netting to act as supports for the vines connecting it using zip ties.

Above: A view of the vegetable garden with new trellis

We were pleased that the supports were attractive,

something like the Calatrava bridges over the Trinity.

  Seeds of red noodle beans, bitter melons, and loofa squash, (aka sponge squash) were planted.   As soon as we got the netting up, the vines rapidly began climbing.

Bitter Melon

Loofah bloom visited by a pollinator

Black eyed peas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red noodle beans can be cooked like green beans.   Wash and salt them, add a little butter, and steam  in the microwave- very easy and delicious. Even the bigger ones that I was afraid would be tough are delectable.

The black eyed peas can also be harvested as immature pods and be prepared like green beans.  Traditional green beans can not tolerate the heat and tend to get rust, but the black eyed peas and noodle beans are disease free.

 

One of the in-ground beds has compacted soil, and attempts to grow corn in it were unsuccessful this year.  We filled it with black eyed peas, and they are thriving.  When the peas are spent, we plan to cut them off at the base and let the roots degenerate before turning the soil over.  Hopefully, this will act as a cover crop and help to enrich and break up the soil for future planting.

 

Sadly, the Spring tomato crop was decimated by squirrels or rats, and we fear, two legged pests.  We have begun plans to build a chicken wire enclosed “house” with a door which can be locked for the next Spring tomato crop.  It is too hot now for heavy work, so we plan to begin soil prep and construction after the first cold front in the Fall.

Most of the Fall planting dates begin in late August, so we will harvest and begin soil prep before then.

Ruth Klein

Pictures by Starla Willis

Caterpillar Alert, Who’s Eating Our Kale?

July 11, 2019

We’ve had an infestation of caterpillars and they have destroyed our kale in the edible garden. Here’s the before picture:

Dinosaur Kale in June at Raincatcher’s Edible Garden

And after:

Same Kale Bed in early July after the cabbage worm attack

 

We are not happy to see cabbage white butterflies. They lay eggs which become destructive caterpillars on the underside of cole crop leaves.

 

 

Maybe we should have known and expected  hungry caterpillars to invade. After all, on our own blog Carolyn Bush wrote about cabbage white butterflies(the adult stage of the imported cabbage worm) in a very stern manner. Here’s her story.

 

We also have the cross-striped cabbage worm feeding on our kale.

Cross-striped cabbage worm

Some preventive methods to try to stop the attack:

Fall sanitation. Clean up and remove infested plant material after harvest to eliminate overwintering sites of the pupae. (we will do this now)

Use row covers. Position row covers or netting over plants to prevent egg laying by the butterflies. Start controls before the white cabbage butterflies are seen fluttering around the yard.

Handpick the cabbage worms off of the underside of the leaves while plants are young and then squish them!

Companion Planting.  Cabbage worms don’t like thyme-we may try this or other herbs to deter them.

What will we do with that now empty garden space?

The Edible Garden Team says let’s plant  pumpkins so we are ready for our October 22nd  Grow and Graze event: Seasonal Splendor, Pumpkins and Sweet Potatoes

Starla Willis and Ann Lamb


Class today: Thursday July 11, 2019, 10:00am-11:00am

Year Round Perennials, Janet D. Smith

All welcome! Please come!

Inside with air conditioning! Fellowship Hall, 11001 Midway Road, Dallas, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planting Corn at The Raincatcher’s Garden

April 15, 2019

We are banking on a good crop of corn this year. After all, we have plenty of sun and warm, rich soil and dedicated gardeners staking out our new garden bed.

Let’s get those corn kernels in the ground!

You can almost taste summer when looking at the seed packages.

Sugarbaby

Buttergold

Early Sunglow

Hwy, what do gardeners say after a corn harvest  when receiving a complement about their corn crop?

Aww shucks, thank you!

Ann Lamb

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

To learn about Glass Gem corn, read Christmas in July.

A March Day in The Raincatcher’s Garden

March 13, 2019

Three minutes of your time, please. Have you ever seen such motivation, such verve. Our gardeners, Syann, Sue, and Dorothy are in the garden under umbrellas pouring out plans from our vegetable garden.

And then, what are strawberry spinach seeds and what’s the best method for starting them?

Thank you everyone; the gardeners, the videographer, the greenhouse personnel, those who weed, those who work in the compost area, all of you who make Raincatcher’s what it is even on a rainy day. You inspire me.

Ann Lamb

video by Starla Willis

More about strawberry spinach seeds here.

Happy New Year 2019 and It’s Getting Cold Outside!

Raincatcher’s Volunteers at our Christmas Party. Some Volunteers are missing from this picture and more needed! Happy Gardening in 2019 from our garden to yours.

Q. You have often mentioned cold tolerant vegetable crops and those which are very susceptible to frosty injury.  Could you list these and temperature lows which they can tolerate?

A. This is very difficult to do and be accurate since cold tolerance depends on preconditioning. For instance, if broccoli has been growing in warm conditions and temperatures drop below 22 degrees F., it will probably be killed. If these same broccoli plants had experienced cool weather, they would probably survive the sudden cold.

In general, a frost (31-33 degrees F.) will kill beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peas, pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Colder temperatures (26-31 degrees F.) may burn foliage but will not kill broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, and turnip.

The real cold weather champs are beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley, and spinach.

Thank you Aggie Archives for this information!

More about frost protection here.

Cold Tolerant Veggies from Daniel Cunningham here.

Ann Lamb

 

 

Shopping For Seeds for Next Year’s Garden

Dorothy shopping for Raincatcher’s via catalog!

Jim, Could I ask some questions about starting seeds for our 2019 gardens.

While many of us buy transplants for our garden, it’s a step up to know that our garden plans to start everything from seed.  What’s your reasoning behind that decision?
  By starting our seeds indoors, we can purchase the seed selection that we want and hopefully they will be ready to transplant at the proper time.  Some seeds are difficult to start from seed and it is better to just purchase the transplants, for example onions and leeks.  Also, some seeds are easy to start by planting directly into the ground – radishes, greens, beans, okra for example.
Are you planning to start everything for our vegetable garden from seed?
 For the raised vegetable beds, we plan on starting the peppers, tomatoes indoors and for the first time eggplant and tomatillo.
Why not the pepper, Hot Big Boss Man, that you grew last year?
 We like to try new varieties and interesting vegetables each year.  This year the peppers will be from the All America Selection list.
Ok, that was my next question. Did I hear that all seeds would be All-American varieties and why is that important? 
All of our peppers will be All American Selections (AAS) winners, except for the Poblano L.  AAS winners have been “Tested and Proven Locally” for garden superiority by horticultural professionals across North America.

Last year’s tomatoes(2018) started by seed, thanks to Jim!

You are an expert on tomato grafting! Which tomato varieties do you plan to graft and on what stock? 
No, I am not an expert by any means. I attended a workshop at a MG state conference and have grafted tomatoes with some success several times.  I also, presented an informal presentation at Joe Field garden years ago.  We plan on using the rootstock Estamino VFFNTA hybrid and grafting heirloom tomatoes, Brandywine Red and Cherokee Purple onto the rootstock.  Hoping for the same excellent flavor of the heirloom with improved production.
When do you plan to start these seeds indoors for the spring season?  Peppers we start mid-January and tomatoes mid-February. Probably, the other seeds around mid-February.  That will give us about 6 weeks before we set them out into the garden. The seedlings will be in the greenhouse the last two weeks before transplanting.
Thank you, Jim, this will help all of us as we plan our gardens for 2019.
Here’s a partial list of the seeds we are starting at the Raincatcher’s Garden:
Tomatoes-Lemon Boy and Celebrity
Peppers-Carmen, Carnato, Gallo, Gypsy, Poblano L and Hot Sweet Hybrid
Ann Lamb
Picture in greenhouse by Starla Willis
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