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Category Archives: Vegetable Gardening in Dallas

May Harvest At The Raincatcher’s Garden

A wheelbarrow of leeks, onions, garlic. Bush beans are growing in raised bed behind the harvest and our mulch piles are in the upper right corner.

Blackberry Pickings; these will make delicious jelly or cobblers.

This is a view of our raised beds brimming with healthy veggie plants and bordered by grapevines. You can see Dorothy and Syann measuring tomatoes in Bed #1.

Ann Lamb

Why would you measure tomatoes plants and weigh harvest? 

Growing blackberries in Dallas

 

 

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.

 

 

Those @#$%&! Butterflies

Though curses aren’t usually the words usually associated with seeing beautiful butterflies soaring around your garden, if you are a home vegetable gardener or part of a community garden that donates produce to food pantries, there is one butterfly that you may dislike.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly on Cabbage

No, it is not the butterflies whose larval host plants are dill, parsley and fennel.  Many people who have butterfly gardens purposely grow extras of these plants as host plants for the butterfly larva. By following the rule “one for me, and one for the birds and butterflies.” you can have your share and the butterflies/caterpillars can have theirs.   However for vegetable gardeners, the sight of pretty white butterflies flitting around members of the brassica family (ex- kale, cabbage, mustard, turnips, etc) can mean only one thing:  an invasion of hungry larva caterpillars that will soon damage their crops.

Large Cabbage White Butterfly Larvae, note larvae color is green not pink as this photo shows

Cabbage white butterflies, also known by butterfly-lovers as “summer snowflakes,” are found in two sizes, the Small Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) and the Large Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae.)  The small cabbage white butterfly, though still considered an agricultural pest, is not as voracious a feeder as the Large Cabbage White Butterfly and will be the focus of this article.

The Small Cabbage White Butterfly is found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.  It was accidentally introduced to Quebec around 1860 and spread rapidly throughout North America.  By 1898 it had spread to Hawaii and by 1929 to New Zealand.  Often, one of the first butterflies to appear in the spring, it lays eggs on the underside of a leaf.  The eggs are laid singly and are yellow making them difficult to spot.  The eggs hatch after about five to fourteen days and then the damage to members of the mustard family begins.  Using their powerful mandibles, the larva munch holes in the leaves.  Sometimes they will even eat into the heart of a cabbage, leaving a shell in its place.  The larva then pupate, to start the whole cycle again.

Cabbage Damage Due to White Butterfly Larvae

Thankfully there are safe biological and barrier controls for this pest butterfly.  In the mid 19th century the Australian government introduced parasitic wasps to control the damage produced by both species of butterflies.  However this approach is only suitable for large commercial growers.  There are other insects however that can help.  These include ladybird beetles, lacewings, and some species of insect-eating birds.  A physical control might include covering the plants with mosquito netting or other barriers.  Be sure to secure all the edges.

Perhaps the easiest organic method of control is to use Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria that kills a caterpillar but leaves beneficial insects unharmed.  When the caterpillar eats a treated leaf, it will get an upset stomach, stop eating, and die within four days.  Just be sure not to apply it in wet weather as the spray will wash off.

By using Bt or other methods of control, you should be able to “have your cabbage and eat it too.”

Carolyn Bush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More About Frost Protection

A few more tips from our gardeners:

I always cover our variegated pittosporum and cyclamen when it gets down to low 20’s. I use frost cloth now but old sheets have worked just fine in the past. I’ll cover the  garlic, radishes and collards in my garden  to be safe. Susan Swinson

Water  well and cover with frost cloth being sure the cloth is held down but not smashing the leaves–pick some now if it’s at that stage and hope for the best.  It’s not too late to replant after the artic blast–must think positive!! Susan Thornbury

 

Good night garden, stay warm!

Ann Lamb

 

 

Frost Protection For Your Garden and Happy New Year!

A Winter Garden of Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Red Sails Lettuce, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Artichoke, Spinach and Broccoli. Frost Cover to be Applied!

Low temperatures are bringing in the new year. You can bet many of us are hoping to protect our winter gardens. Here’s a helpful article to help you prepare!

Ann Lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Long Beans—Green Beans for Summer—Even Here

Have you ever read or been told that green beans will produce all summer?  This is advice that must be met with a kind smile.  Bless their hearts, it’s totally untrue.   Obviously cannot be blamed for this mistake, they are just not from around here.  Anyone who gardens in North Texas knows green beans will not make it in summer’s heat.

Does that mean no more fresh beans? No, not if you plant Chinese long beans.  This delicious vegetable goes by many names: snake bean, yard long bean even asparagus bean.  A red variety called red noodle is also available.  Properly they are called Vigna Unguiculata.  As its “real name” makes clear, they are actually related to cowpeas or blackeyed peas and not ordinary garden green beans.  The important point is they grow in the heat of summer, in fact they require heat to do well.  Which wouldn’t matter if they didn’t taste good, but they do with flavor much like green beans and a touch of blacked pea.

Are you convinced? Plant the seeds as directed on the package.  It is essential to provide a sturdy support as these are vines not bushes.  Large tomato cages work well. The vines would probably like something ten feet tall to grown on but vines don’t always get what they want.  Compromise is key between you and the vines.  Give the vines plenty of room so  they can grow up and over supports but keep them within bounds so you can  pick the beans. Remember the vines will try to grab any innocent plant that gets in their way; be alert.

Trellised Vines of the Chinese Long Bean

Garden soil with compost is ideal.  Apply organic fertilizer when planting. As with any rapidly growing plant, regular watering is essential.

Once the production starts, check the vines every day. The beans grow amazingly fast and will need regular picking, pick them about twelve inches long  while they are still firm and dark green.

Chinese Long Beans, Ready to Eat!

When they are picked like this they are even good raw in salad. They are delicious prepared in many ways: simmered as green beans would be or fried as they are in many traditional Chinese recipes.

Try them and you will see for yourself!!

Susan Thornbury

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