Blog posts from June 2011

Time to plant fall harvest tomatoes…

Jun 18, 2011

Alright, if you're in Texas it's already time to start getting your fall harvest tomato plants in the ground. If you have old spring-planted tomatoes that are done producing or did not produce well this spring due to weather (especially determinates) go ahead and pull them up and put them in the compost. You have until about the middle of July to get your new tomatoes in the grounds so if any of your early plants are still producing you can let them go until then.

'Celebrity' Hybrid Determinate Tomato

Some indeterminates, like the old fashioned cherry tomatoes or some of the less temperature sensitive hybrids like 'Sapho' can keep producing small amounts of fruit through the summer. However by the time September comes around plants will be pretty beat up and you often won't get a good harvest. For most varieties, I recommend to go ahead and replace will new fall-harvest transplants.

Make sure to keep your new tomato transplants well watered and do so consistently. Going into our brutal summer heat, it's important to keep these new plants healthy and thriving so that they will begin setting fruit in September, on schedule. Fertilize at planting time, and then wait until you have baby fruit setting on your plants to start feeding again, which you'll do every two weeks.

I can’t help but be sad when I lose a chicken…

Jun 16, 2011

R.I.P were such a great chicken! Pecker was a 2 1/2 year old Ameraucana who layed the prettiest blue eggs, every day, on time, no complaints. No drama with Pecker, she was all about business. Hard not to be sad, even though they are livestock. I still get attached...I'm just a big softy (shhhhh, don't tell anyone!)


Got a call from the husband at work on Tuesday evening...he said he'd just found her keeled over in the coop. No warning. We still can't figure out what happened unless the heat just got to her. Even though she seemed perfectly fine the night before. What a bummer. So, Phyllis is the last of the original gang of girls. Who'd have thunk she would hang on the longest.

It's a good idea to add electrolytes to your chicken's water during the summer months. Helps with heat stress. If you have a chicken that seems week or disorented in the heat, you can hose them down or even hold them in a bucket of cool water for a few minutes. I actually did this with Phyllis yesterday. Make sure they have access to shade in the afternoon. I like to give my girls chilled watermelon in the summer. They LOVE it and it cools them off.

Anyhoo...I'll miss her and and blue eggs. Sniff, sniff.

Dallas…Do you have an UGLY garden?!

Jun 14, 2011

Well, here is your shot to not only show it of, but also be rewarded for it! (ok, really, we're trying to HELP you, lol) Click the link below for more details...

North Haven Gardens: Ugly Garden Contest

Dramatic Pepper

Jun 8, 2011

Sorry, this just cracks me


Trouble with Tomato Fruit Set this Spring?

Jun 3, 2011

Many folks are experiencing trouble with fruit set on their tomatoes this spring, at least in Texas. There are a few contributing factors to this problem this year, some out of your control, some not.

What I'm noticing is that anyone that planted their tomato transplants after March 15th are the ones having the most problems. We've had a very cool wet spring this year and temperatures have not been great for flower/fruit production. Also, we went from 50F days straight into 90 degree days...also not condusive for fruit set. Folks that got their plants in the ground before March 15th had more time for plants to develop on schedule. This is why I always encourage gardeners to get their tomatoes in the ground BY March 15th. Waiting for "bad" weather to pass to plant your tomatoes is almost always a recipe for minimal fruit set. Plant your tomatoes early and keep some frost cloth on hand to protect them from frosts.

Also, I've spoken to several people that continued fertilizing their tomatoes through this cool spring, even though flower/fruit production had not set in. Too much Nitrogen before flowering/fruit set will only continue to encourage lots of green leafy growth...not flowers and fruit. You should fertilize your tomatoes at planting time and then wait until you have baby fruits setting on the plant. THEN start fertilizing about every two weeks through harvest.

Fruit set this year, due to weather conditions, will also vary by variety. Some varieties that are more temperature sensitive won't yield as much this time around. Troopers like 'Sapho', however, should still perform pretty well.

You can reference this older post of mine for more specifics on temperature and fruit set for tomatoes.

New Echinacea in bloom…

Jun 2, 2011

I'm obsessed with all the new lovely Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) varieties on the market these days. I wrote a feature on them this spring for Neil Sperry's Gardens magazine and have planted many in my own garden. Here are a couple of my favorites in bloom right now...


Echinacea 'Secret Lust' - a lovely pom pom bloom with peach to pink blooms


Echinacea 'Tangerine Dream' Large orange blooms with burgundy center

First hummingbird sighting…

Jun 1, 2011

Very exciting...the first hummingbird sighting at our new house! As I was peeking out the front window this morning at about 7am, a femail ruby throated hummingbird took a few zips through the front garden bed.

The sprinklers were going off and it looked to me like she might be more interested in taking a quick shower than she was the flowers. She was also probably staking out some good territory. Guess I'd better get some feeders up on the front of the house...Anyone else spot hummingbirds in DFW yet?

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