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!
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.
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.
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.
Pictures by Starla Willis