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Dig Into Garden Resources While Sheltering

April 19, 2020

While quarantine has been hard on everyone, it gives us a chance to learn something new. There are many online classes and resources to dig into.

Digging!

Several Master Gardeners have been sending me links which are now compiled below for you to browse.

Susan Thornbury suggests the Texas Wildflower Newsletter here. and eco-friendly low maintenance gardening.

She added this article on what plants can teach us about surviving a pandemic as a must-read.

Beverly Allen has been reviewing techniques to start herb and vegetables from seed and found these guidelines to share from Terrior Seeds.

The Agrilife Facebook Live class (class #2 seed starting) on the same topic are also very helpful.

Kids at home? Garden projects from Garden Design for cute ideas.

Sheila Kostelny has recommended A start to finish guide for growing sweet potatoes.

Here’s one from me. I am imagining myself in France at Monet’s garden.

 

Ann Lamb

 

June 2nd is the date for our scented geranium educational event and lunch. Please consider signing up on Eventbrite.  The date of our event may change depending on health guidelines from Dallas authorities and the Dallas County Master Gardener Association. See the eventbrite link above for more details.

 

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

Homesteading in North Dallas

Sheila Kostelny, a Louisiana gal, and  Master Gardener class of 2009  walks us through her garden.

 

Shiela’s words of advice and her own planting date guide:

It’s too late for peas (sugar snap and snow peas are planted Feb 1st thru 10th) and too early for winter squash.  In addition to okra, I will be planting my sweet potato slips after April 15th.  Attached is a timetable that I compiled from the TAMU and NHG suggested dates for planting.  I’m glad to share this spreadsheet. It’s created with the veggies/herbs that interest me.

Thank you, Sheila. this has been a pleasure and I love what you told me about your garden.

We close with Sheila’s words:

“My garden has provided a great deal of joy and feelings of usefulness.

It’s my place of normalcy and peace during this time.”

Thank you, Sheila.

Ann Lamb

Sweet potatoes 

 

Bundles of Love

Our Edible Landscape’s Response to COVID-19

Sheltering in place has been a time of quiet solitude and reflection for me. My precious 91-year-old mother is being cared for by the staff in her memory care facility and I’m not allowed to visit at this time. (We are so grateful for their compassion and the care she receives from each one of them).  Our children and grandchildren send “face time” hugs and kisses but we are missing the warmth of their sweet touch. 

For me, the one familiar and unchanging experience is time spent in the garden. Early in the morning, with clippers in hand and a basket in my arm, the gathering begins. Late winter and into spring we’ve seen record high amounts of rain followed by temperatures dipping into the  30’s then soaring up into the mid 90’s. Somehow, this unusual weather has blessed our plants with the nourishment needed to grow and flourish. The garden has graced with a bounty of flavorful herbs and greens. 

Since the mid l980’s I’ve been smitten with herbs. Growing them is one of my simple pleasures. From sun to part sun, dappled shade to deep shade, over 20 different kinds of herbs make a seasonal appearance in my garden and in the edible landscape at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills. A few of the evergreens stay throughout the year while perennials come and go as they choose. Annuals fill in the gaps with seasonal color and interesting flavors.

This year as we started the gentle transition of winter into spring, wonderful things began happening in the garden. Sleepy little lettuce plants opened their heads with delicate green foliage to use in our spring salads. French tarragon, Mexican mint marigold and Italian oregano made a colorful statement from their country of origin. Alliums grew by inches, almost daily. The garden was ready to embrace the season. 

At Raincatcher’s garden and in my garden at home, I’ve been using the harvest of the season to create “bundles of joy” for my family and friends. Always careful to wear gloves and a face mask, if the garden is ready to share, I’m prepared to snip away. Look at each of these three bundles and see if you can identify the herbs and greens in each one. Everything you see is edible!

Did you find nasturtiums, blue borage, rosemary, kale (‘Jagallo Nero’-blue-green frilly leaves with a sweet, tender taste), rosemary, wasabi arugula with white blossoms, dill, thyme and rose scented geranium?

Look for the curly parsley, fennel fronds, spearmint, salad burnet, buttercrunch lettuce and German chamomile blossoms

In this photo you will find cutting celery (looks like Italian flat leaved parsley but has a taste resembling celery), calendula flowers, French sorrel, watercress, oak leaf lettuce and lemon verbena.

Note: These delightful little bundles should be shared with instructions to use soon after harvesting. Remember, leaves don’t like to be under water. So, keep everything fresh and snip from the top down. 

Included are a few favorite recipes but here are some suggestions for using more herbs in your daily meal planning:

Nasturtiums: leaves for pesto and flowers for butter, cookies, jams, salads, and tea sandwiches 

Borage: lovely blue blossoms as a garnish for cakes, salads and syrups

Rosemary: breads, cakes, cookies and soups

Arugula: leaves and blossoms in salads; leaves for pesto

Dill: breads, frittatas and fish

Calendula: flower petals for cornbread, cakes, cookies, quiche 

Scented geraniums: leaves for flavoring sugar, cakes, flowers and leaves for whipped cream

Curly parsley: parsley soup (recipe included), salads

Fennel fronds: salads and soups

Spearmint: tea, lemonade, brownies and in watermelon salad

Salad burnet: creamy dips and salads

German chamomile blossoms: tea and garnish for cakes and cookies, syrups

Cutting celery: creamy dips and young, tender leaves in salads

Marjoram: Italian foods like lasagna and pasta dishes

French sorrel: soups and as a wrap for oven roasted salmon

Watercress: leaves and blossoms for salads

Lemon verbena: breads, cakes, custards, sorbets and in iced tea, water or lemonade

Thyme: butters, soups, cookies and gougers 

Linda Alexander

And now for those recipes:

Parlsey Potato Soup

Lemon Verbena Bread

 

A Gardener’s Response To Shelter in Place

April 7, 2020

Until 3 weeks ago I had no idea what “Shelter in Place” would look like, I just knew I didn’t like the sound of it.

On Monday, I went to The Raincatcher’s Garden before restrictions went into effect on Tuesday. The garden was showing signs of spring; wildflowers, vegetables, new growth, flowering trees and shrubs, and irises. Although the bees were about their normal business of pollinating, it was lacking the normal buzz of people.

Raincatcher’s Garden without the buzz!

We are now about 2 or 3 weeks into Shelter in Place – How are things going?   To be really honest, this girl is having a hard time staying put There are plenty of things to do at home, inside and out, but it’s the NOT going, and NOT connecting that’s the real challenge. 

Starla and son and dog sheltering in place.

 I am a social gardener. I realize that my energy comes from interaction with people as much as growing things, so this quarantine is difficult to say the least.  

But on the bright side, my yard is awash with color; yellow columbine, red and pink roses, purple irises, and pink Indian hawthorn and many white flowers. 

Front yard with Columbine, Iris, and a backdrop of Loropetalum.

Bridal wreath and white Agapanthus. Other white flowers in Starla’s garden include dianthus, candytuft and snowball viburnum.

 With all of this springtime bounty, I have found a distraction that stays within the boundaries of social distancing and provides an outlet for me.

Wanting to surprise my neighbor from across the street, I asked to borrow a vase. She agreed and then the fun began, after flowers and greenery were chosen from the yard, an arrangement was created and placed on her porch. 

It was fun to bring a little joy, some sweet scents, and colorful flowers to an unsuspecting neighbor in this time of uncertainty.  My kitchen has turned into a florist’s workshop as I  continue to create garden bouquets for my neighbors.

A surprise bouquet from Starla. Starla, won’t you be my neighbor?

Everyone is dealing with this situation differently, but this has helped me to stay connected while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

I can’t wait to get back to regular routines and friends, but in the meantime this will be my outlet. By the way, can I borrow a vase?

What are you doing to bring a little sunshine to those in your circle?  Dallas Garden Buzz would like to hear how you are dealing with this disruption of our normal patterns.  Leave a comment to let us know.

Starla Willis with captions by Ann Lamb

TIME FLIES—EVEN NOW!

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.

Purple heart is easy to transplant. Here’s a container idea using plants you may have in your garden right now.

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!

Susan Thornbury

Raincatcher’s Garden Spring 2020

April 2, 2020

Most of us are at home this week and for the next coming weeks.

If you’re itching to walk through a garden, why not take a tour of ours through the eyes of Starla, our photographer who took these pictures last week.

New decomposed granite walkway flanked by beds of  Canyon Creek Abelia, Hamelim Dwarf Fountain Grass, and Texas Sage, “Compactum” (Texas Ranger) Read a full description of this new memorial garden here.

Veggie beds full of turnips (mostly gone), mustard greens (lots), collards (gone), carrots, and onions. Meanwhile Jim, is nursing 6″ pots of tomatoes and peppers for the garden.

Pollination of a blackberry blossom

The color wheel garden with a pretty apricot iris. Jim has repotted 40 zinnias and has 20 more to repot for the color wheel.

Redbud tree in bloom

The rain garden, our unsung hero! It has been channeling rain from our full rain cisterns to this sunken garden.

Garden questions? Send us a question by making a comment.

Ann Lamb

Pictures by Starla Willis

Crane Flies

Have you noticed the plethora of winged insects with really long legs of late?  While admiring our blooming Texas Mountain Laurel, crane flies were spotted resting on the grape-soda scented flowers.  After taking way too many pictures, it was time to learn about them. We are seeing an abundance of them due to the wet weather and the fact that it’s early spring, the time they usually appear.  

There are over 14,000 species of Crane Flies.  “Mosquito Hawk” is the common name, which is a misnomer all the way around. It is not a mosquito, it’s a fly, and hawk nope, – not a predator, and it doesn’t hunt down mosquitoes either, but is often food for other birds and wildlife.  

They have beautiful stained glass-like wings as seen in this up close photo

These beneficial insects contribute to the ecosystem by feeding on decomposing matter in moist areas in the larval stage, which is 95% of their life span. The crane fly’s lifecycle is about a year, but adults only live for about 10-15 days. They do not bite, are attracted to light, and the sole purpose as adults is to mate and for the female to lay eggs near water.

Enjoy the brief time that crane flies occupy our airspace.  They are interesting to watch, helpful to our environment, and fun to photograph. 

Starla Willis  

 

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