Blog posts from October 2010
Oct 29, 2010
Oct 25, 2010
Really, it's just about one of the easiest veggies to grow! In the DFW area, you can grow salad greens from September through May of the following year! And growing your own beats paying $7.99 a pound for organic greens at the store.
You'll want to direct seed lettuce into the garden now. Lettuce seeds need light to germinate so just sprinkle them onto moist soil surface and press down gently. Do not cover with soil! Because seeds are exposed, you'll need to be diligent about keeping the soil surface moist until germination (consistency of a wrung out sponge). As seedlings sprout and put on their first set of true leaves, you'll then want to thin out seedlings so that remaining seedlings have room to grow.
While you may want to harvest entire heads of lettuces such as Romain or Butterhead, it's not necessary. You can do what is called loose-leaf haresting on these plants from fall through spring. New leaves emgerge from the center of the plant and then splay outwards. Simply snip off leaves as they reach about 4-inches and continue harvesting around the plant as it grows.If you do want to harvest the entire head, then do what is called "succession planting". Sow new seeds in the garden every 2-3 weeks.
Lettuces are biennials, meaning they will grow foliage the first season, and then bolt, or flower, the next. So after warm temperatures hit in late spring/early summer, your greens will bolt and you'll need to stop harvesting. Pitch leftover plants into the compost bin! Feed your greens with an organic veggie food every couple of weeks (liquid) or monthly (granular).
Oct 21, 2010
If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and are interested in keeping backyard chickens, there is a free program, "Backyard Chickens 101" scheduled at North Haven Gardens in Dallas on November 20th, 10am-11am. A sale of young hens will start at 11am and go until 2pm or until sold out. It's always great fun!
Oct 14, 2010
Well, I don't want to jinx anything, especially considering what we experienced last October, but this month has just about been the nicest we've seen in a long time! The weather is great, night temperatures cool...it's a great time for planting just about anything.
It's an especially good time to get Narcissus (Daffodils), Lycoris, Anemone, Leucojum, Muscari, Hyacinthoides, Dutch Iris and many other perennial bulbs in the ground. The next couple of weeks will be peak availability at the local garden centers so you'll have the best selection of bulbs to choose from. Don't wait until December because many varieties will be long gone.
Oct 13, 2010
I love the new trailing pansies in the 'Plentifall' series. I mean, I'm in love with pansies and violas in general...I never tire of them. In our Texas gardens, they provide such lovely color and fragrance from fall through spring and they are so cheery.
This new series of pansy hybrids are trialing which makes them perfect for containers and hanging baskets. We don't have many options here for trailing flowering plants for the winter season so these are a great addition to our cool-season plant pallet. Can't wait to plant mine!
Oct 10, 2010
If you live in Texas and want to have a beautiful spring display of tulips, now is the time to get planning. Garden Centers should have their best selection of spring bulbs in-stock by about mid-October. There are a few keys to having great looking tulips that bloom on time next spring.
1. You must buy bulbs that are properly pre-chilled. Tulips require a vernalization. That means about 8-10 weeks of soil temperatures between about 45F and 50F and then a return of warm temperatures to produce a flower bud. If the bulb does not get the proper vernalization, it won't bloom. Also, if a bulb has been pre-chilled and then left out in warm temperatures for long enough, it will de-vernalize...and not bloom. You can try chilling your tulip bulbs in the refrigerator, but that only works for small quantities and most refrigerators are set colder than is optimal for tulip bulb vernalization. Then there is also the moisture and ethylene problem in the fridge.
2. Plant them on time. In my extensive experience with planting large tulip displays, the best time in the DFW area to plant tulip bulbs is about the third week of December. You have to wait until soil temperatures are consistently below 50F. The golden rule is don't plant them before Thanksgiving and try to get them planted by the end of December.
3. Plant them deep. Plant them 6"-8" deep from the tip of the bulb to soil surface. I usually plant mine at least 8" deep. The biggest mistake people make here when they plant tulips is planting them too shallow. Temperatures fluctuate more in the top few inches of the soil. So if you plant your tulips only 3"-4" deep, they will often emerge too early (especially when we have those January thaws). This can result in wimpy flowering, or the flowers being damaged by a subsequent frost. They can also blast, meaning the flower will open down at ground level. This is a result of the bulb being exposed to high temps very quickly after vernalization. By planting them deep, they will be insulated from those early warm temps and they will bloom on-time. Adding a couple of inches of mulch on top of the soil will help.
SO, to recap:
1. Only buy properly pre-chilled tulips.
2. Plant them on time: December.
3. Plant deep! minimum of 6" deep, 8" is better.
AND, you can attend my next bulb 101 class HERE
Oct 7, 2010
Iceland poppies are technically a perennial, but only behave as such in the Northern most parts of the United States and into Canada. In our climate, Iceland Poppies should be treated as a cool season annual, or biennial if you will. In Texas, it’s best to plant Iceland Poppies in the fall, along with your pansies and violas. This allows them to put on a larger root system and thus a bigger spring show of blooms. Plants will bloom in the fall and until the first hard frost. Often, they will continue putting on blooms through the winter. Hard frosts will nip the blooms, but won’t hurt the plants. In spring, you’ll be rewarded with a burst of blooms in late February or early March, to accompany your tulips and daffodils. Plants will continue to flower until temperatures heat up in mid- to late-May.
Iceland Poppies don’t like the heat and will die off with the onset of summer. They are generally very easy to grow and don't require extra care. The one thing they don't appreciate is wet feet. Make sure your soil drains well and you don't provide too much extra irrigation in the winter months. Mulching plants with about 1-inch of expanded shale can help cut down on excess moisture around the root zone.
Now, October, is the best time to plant Iceland Poppies in our climate. Plant poppies!! Yay!!