Blog posts from October 2013

Fall is for planting!

Oct 25, 2013

Ok folks, it's time to plant! If you've ever complained about how hard it is to keep plants happy in the summer, then you need to shift your focus to fall. Us plant geeks keep telling you to plant now...and we promise we're not blowin' smoke! Get your booties out into the garden! Planting during fall and winter gives your new plantings lots of time to put down new roots before the onset of summer heat and drought. Really, you'll be doing both your plants and yourself a big favor!

Autumn is an especially great time in the vegetable garden.  In fact, in DFW, our cool season gardens are much more productive than our summer gardens. The weather is cooler and rainfall more plentiful. You’ll find that maintenance is much easier during the fall and winter months.

September - November are prime planting times for many vegetable varieties.  You can plant transplants of Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Collards, and Kohlrabi starting mid-September through early November.  Direct seed any of the salad greens from September through October and continue planting transplants through November.

October is the best time for Texans to plant garlic cloves. You can purchase garlic for planting at your local garden center, where you’ll find the best varieties for our area. Split the bulb up into individual cloves then plant about one- to two-inches deep and about three- to six-inches apart. Cloves must be planted in the fall in order for them to receive the required chilling to form bulbs. Garlic bulb formation occurs in response exposure to one or two months of soil temperatures between 32 °F and 50 °F followed by the lengthening days of spring once shoots have emerged. If you want to grow onions, you can start them from seed during fall. You’ll wait until January to plant onion slips or sets (transplants).

Autumn is also a great time to plant cool season herbs, such as chamomile, chervil, chives, cilantro, comfrey, dill, fennel, fenugreek, lemon balm, parsley, and many more. These herbs will continue growing for you all the way through winter and the following spring. Don’t forget that some evergreen herbs, such as curled parsley and blood sorrel make great ornamentals in the Autumn & Winter garden. Mix them with pansies, violas and dusty miller for a striking combination. Make sure to amend your vegetable and herb beds with plenty of organic compost before planting.

Be sure to fertilize your veggies and herbs with an organic vegetable fertilizer. Typically, you’ll fertilize plants at planting time, and then again once plants begin to flower or fruit.

We can’t forget about fruit! Autumn and winter, when berries and fruit trees go dormant, is the best time to plant. By planting when it’s cool, or when plants are dormant, you’ll give them plenty of time to establish before the onset of summer heat. Fruit trees that do well in our area include fig, pear, peach, plum, and pomegranate. While apples and cherries don’t fare quite as well in our climate, there are certain varieties that can be grown with some extra TLC. Citrus trees can also be grown here but usually require some winter protection. Blackberries are probably the easiest of berries to grow, followed by strawberries, raspberries and grapes. All of which perennialize for us.

Growing veggies? Check out The Fresh 20!

Oct 6, 2013

So you've tackled the veggie garden and after some practice you've started to get good harvests. Once this happens, you'll often find yourself with the task of figuring out what to do with all that harvest! There's freezing, canning, pickling and so on and so forth. Of course the goal is to always eat as much of the seasonal veggies fresh if you can. But with busy schedules, it's easy to get behind on all that cooking.


Recently, I started experimenting with a program called The Fresh 20. Now let me say, I'm not being paid to write about this, I have not been contacted by the author of The Fresh 20, or any such thing. I'm just a paying customer like any other who happens to LOVE it! I've spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years on cookbooks; downloaded hundreds of recipies online; subscribed to any number of cooking magazines. But it's still hard for me to get my kitchen act together because I work all the time. For what was not the first time, I set out online to find some sort of cooking program that would help me organize my shopping list (or garden harvest list), provide easy recipes and suit the varied eating habits in my house (veggie vs. meat eater).

What I stumbled across was The Fresh 20 Cookbook. The description of the cookbook led me to further investigate the website, which offers up subscriptions to weekly shopping and cooking plans that are built around seasonal ingredients. I purchased both the Classic and the Vegetarian plans (when you buy the first one, you get additional plans for 1/2 price). It' AMAZING and the price is more than worth it. The author, Melissa Lanz, has done all the work: Created the recipes, which are tasty and easy, built the shopping list and provided all of the nutritional info. I swear, this is the easiest meal plan I've every tried to use. She also gives you a ballpark of what the week's shopping will cost you (but you should probably go ahead and double that if you shop at Whole Foods, lol). Simply substitute your garden harvest for veggies in the recipes (or sub the veggie completely for something else you have in the garden).

Each week you get 5 dinners worth of recipes, your shopping list, and panty staples. If you're a household of two, you'll have plenty of leftovers to cover all your lunches. If you have a family of 4, you should end up with just about the right amount for dinner. Some meals you'll still end up with extra. Food is great, easy to make and really makes the week of cooking so much easier.

Anyhoo, if you're a veggie gardener and are looking for an easier way improve your kitchen time, grocery bill and use up that garden harvest, check this program. It's just been too good not to share!


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