Sunday, September 28, 2008


No, my tomato plants did not do well. I finally pulled them out about a week ago (they were attacked by leaf miners). But it just makes me so sad to see my Mom's and her neighbor's plants growing 6' tall and covered in tomatoes.

of course, they are in Colorado, not Texas, so they had a much better growing season for the tomatoes this year. And from back when I had a garden here, I do remember that you either had a 'squash year' or a 'tomato year' meaning that either your squash plants did awesome and the tomatoes sucked, or vice versa. And I know Austin has that, too. The only difference was that in Colorado it almost seemed that you could predict at planting time if it was going to be squash or tomatoes. Which probably means it has something to do with it being a hot summer, or a cooler summer.

And of course the problem in Austin is that it's ALWAYS a hot summer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall Gardens 101: From the Master Gardeners themselves

As promised, I went to the Master Gardeners' free seminar on Fall Veggie Gardens. It was a grand ole time! there were a TON of people there.

But on to what's important! The things they recommend growing down here in the fall (you know, to basically hold the hands of those of us who thought we knew what we were doing at one time, but obviously don't)...

Get a soil test done. Central Texas soils tend to be higher in Phosphorous (which means that you should choose fertilizers with a low middle number)

If you plant Broccoli, Cauliflower or Turnips, do not plant these in the same spot every year. Even if you switch between Broccoli and Cauliflower, do not plant them where you planted the other type the year before.

Things to plant now:
Asparagus (it's a 3 year plant so make sure you really want it),
broccoli (stagger them, otherwise you'll be eating nothing but broccoli for a week),
cauliflower (when you notice a head growing, gently pull the leaves around it up and over the head and clothes pin them in place--this keeps the head white, otherwise it will turn an off-white color),
garlic (hardneck is recommended, when the leaves turn yellow, that's when they're ready to be pulled),
onions (transplants--look for the pencil thin transplants, when the leaves fall over, it's time to pull them up),
peas (sugar snap is recommended. Plant some now and some in January)
swiss chard,

use a soil innoculant for peas and beans

Potatoes: plant in the middle of Feb, and harvest in May. Since potatoes need soil to be added to the plant every week or so, it's easiest to get some bushel baskets, cut the bottoms out, place on the soil and plant a potato at the bottom. As the plant grows, add soil to the basket. When it's time to harvest, just pull up the basket and the potatoes fall right out.

General tips: harvest veggies in the AM and rinse before storing. Use bug and disease resistant varieties, don't water at night, rotate crops, destroy diseased plants (don't compost), and floating row covers are your friend.

Spider mites and aphids are going to be a problem always. get rid of them with a strong burst of water.

Peppers should be starting to do better now with the slightly cooler temps

Tomatoes shut down when night temperatures are above 74.

Spring planting is generally in March and fall planting is generally in September/October

For Strawberries, the crown needs to be above the soil. Grow them as annuals. susceptible to spider mites. plant in October and pinch off blooms until December/January. 30 days from bloom to fruit. Cover during freezes. Use mulch and cover with black plastic.

For rhubarb, the variety that grows down here is a green variety by the name of "Victory" (so it won't be the red that most people think of when they think 'rhubarb'). It is truely a cold weather plant as it will 'burn off' in the summer.

Swiss Chard grows year round and you can cut a couple of leaves off to eat and it will continue to grow for a couple of years. Remove the plant when it starts looking bad, but it should last a couple of years.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bloom Day

It's not that I dislike bloom day or anything. It's just more like nothing is blooming on bloom day.

last month it was too hot and there was no rain. This month it's because Ike blew all the blooms off my plants.

But next month. I can feel it. SOMETHING must be blooming on October 15th...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Scarlet Sage

And they're still blooming. Though not much anymore...hopefully they'll start blooming again after Ike hits and dumps some rain on us. Predictions this afternoon were for 3" over 2 days. Woot! Thank God I'm not on call this weekend!

(also, for whatever reason the small picture looks like crap, the big picture is much nicer.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fall Garden

It seems Shawn has agreed to help me with my new endeavor for a garden along the north fence. The biggest problem we have is that this area is lower than the rest of the yard--the yard is fairly flat, but for whatever reason, about 5 feet from the fence it starts to drop off. This, of course, will need to be rectified. I just want to do simple wood framed raised beds, but Shawn has a thing for rock lined raised beds...I don't know, maybe it's some sort of "I man, AR-AR-AR" type thing that he feels the need to haul rocks everywhere.

Anyhow, this will be a fairly large project, and the deck really really needs to be stained before we do a new garden, and since its just so hot outside, it may have to wait until the end of October. (We are taking 2 vacations, each a week long and about 2 weeks apart. Since I feel so bad about asking our neighbor to cat sit as it is, I'd feel horrible asking her to water the plants so they didn't die. So I just won't have anything that needs watering.)