Summer Loving Vegetables

We have turned the calendar over to June, which means temperatures are heating up!  Our spring garden harvest is rolling in with an abundant supply of tomatoes, squash, onions, and green beans.

Summers in Texas are hot, and many seasoned gardeners make plans to close the garden for a few weeks to escape the heat of July and August.  One look at our Williamson County Vegetable Planting Guide shows that the options for planting in June and July start to get slim.  However, if you are willing to endure the heat, we have some heat-loving vegetables that you can plant in June.

Two of my favorite vegetables grow great in the summer heat (more…)

Pests in the Garden

You know the old saying that goes, “Warm weather brings more bugs to the party.”  No?  Maybe that is because I just made it up, but that does not make it less true!  The warm weather of May is bringing lots of bugs to the garden party!

Insect problems can be a frustrating part of gardening, especially when we can see the damage but cannot see the bug causing the damage!  How can you fix a problem that you cannot see?  One way to track down insect pests is to investigate (more…)

Bluebonnet Seed Collecting

The wildflowers are putting on a good show this spring!  We started with a great show of bluebonnets, but the Indian Blanket, Pink Evening Primrose, Blackfoot Daisy, Bee Balm, and many others are blooming beautifully now.  I had a chance to drive to Marble Falls recently, and the wildflowers made the drive so enjoyable!

The bluebonnets are starting to fade into the background, but if you get close to the plants you will notice that the plants are producing seed pods.  Bluebonnets are in the legume family, so they produce a pod that looks like a peapod.   The pod starts out green, then turns yellow and then brown.  If you leave them alone, the pods will pop and spread the seed on the ground.

If you have some bluebonnets nearby, this is a great time to collect some seed (more…)

St. Augustine Woes

Spring is a busy time in the gardening world, and I never feel like I have enough time in the day to get to all my garden tasks.  It could be that I need to stop buying plants for my new flower beds and just focus on what I have already growing, but where is the fun in that?  Planting flowers is more fun than pulling weeds!

One topic that is coming up a lot this spring is problems in the lawn.  St. Augustine grass took a hard hit in many lawns this winter, and it is very slow to come back this spring.

This winter, we had relatively warm weather until the hard freeze in January.  Many St. Augustine lawns were still green in January and had not had enough cold temperatures to go dormant.  During the hard freeze on the weekend of January 13, we had temperatures down to 17 degrees.  That is a big temperature drop for St. Augustine grass that has not gone dormant yet! (more…)

Fun Ideas for Backyard Gardens

One of the things that I love most about gardening is getting to experiment and try out new ideas.  Gardens are living, changing spaces, and it is so fun to layer in new plants.

In the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Georgetown, I have learned a lot from the Master Gardeners as they try out new plants and design ideas over the years.  Another great thing about gardening is learning from your garden friends!

We have a section of the vegetable garden that is now dubbed the “backyard garden.”  There you can find (more…)

Soil Temperatures

The talk among gardeners in the spring is when to start putting out vegetable plants.  If you start too early, a late frost might get your tomato plants, but starting too late could mean a shorter growing season before summer heat slows down production.

There are a lot of interesting tips for planting vegetables by the signs of the moon or counting the weeks from Groundhog Day to predict the last day of winter.  One of the best kept secrets of good gardening is knowing the value of checking soil temperature.  Use a soil thermometer, or even a kitchen thermometer, to test (more…)

Earth-Kind Tips for Spring

Spring is here, and I am enjoying the warmer weather and longer days!  I am getting more excited to add some new plants to the landscape and do work in the yard.  If you are planning to do any updates to the landscape, consider some tips from the AgriLife Extension Earth-Kind program to make your landscape environmentally friendly.

One great way to improve your soil, prevent weeds, and help conserve water is to add a three-inch layer of mulch to your landscape beds.  You can buy mulch in bulk from many local landscape supply stores or check with your local city about free mulch pick-up.  Bagged mulch is also a great option if you don’t have a way to transport a bulk order.

Water conservation is a big priority in Central Texas, (more…)

Spring Prep

Spring is in the air!  The fruit trees are starting to bloom and I have spotted a few bluebonnets already on the roadsides.  Here are a few tips and tasks for spring gardening.

Begin planning and preparing your spring garden beds for crops like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other vegetable crops.  Check your irrigation system for leaks and incorporate compost into the top six inches of soil. (more…)

Snapdragons and Angelonia

One of my first memories of enjoying flowers as a kid was when my dad stopped in the garden section of Ace Hardware to show my brother and I how to pinch the flower on a snapdragon to make its “mouth” open and close.  We were thrilled to see those flowers come to life, and I still cannot resist stopping by a snapdragon to make it talk.

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) originated in southwestern Europe and have been enjoyed in gardens throughout Europe and the United States for decades.  The genus name antirrhinum is from Greek meaning like a (more…)

Spring Weed Control

The last week or two, the evening light has lasted long enough for me to piddle around in the garden when I get home.  I could not help but think, “Spring is coming!”  We still have the month of February to get through, so I am trying to restrain myself.  There are a few late winter tasks to start thinking about, and one of those is weed control.

If you have trouble with more weeds in your lawn than you would like, pre-emergent weed control is a good way to prevent weeds before they get a chance to grow.  Pre-emergent herbicides work when weed seeds are (more…)