One of the interesting things about observing nature is keeping track of cycles. Late summer and fall bring a very interesting cycle to Texas, the invasion of the crickets! This is the time of year that adult crickets seem to swarm around commercial buildings and homes.
The crickets that are popping up fright now are referred to as field crickets and belong to the Gryllus assimilis family. Females lay eggs in the fall, and they prefer (more…)
The “cool front” that came through this week was just enough to bring back distant memories of pleasant weather and renew hope for the cooler temperatures of fall. And that gets me excited for fall vegetable gardening!
August is the time to start thinking about getting the vegetable garden ready for a fall planting. If you are new to Texas or just new to gardening, fall is one of the best times of year to grow vegetables. The temperatures cool off enough for good pollination and fruit set, and we usually get more rain in the fall.
We have a great planting that tells you what to plant month-by-month, and the planting season gets into full swing at the end of August through October. The trick is to start with the average freeze date in late (more…)
This summer-loving gardener is ready for a break from the heat! The heat and drought conditions are tough this summer, on people and plants. The U.S. Drought Monitor maps show Williamson County to be in severe to extreme drought as of July 27, 2023.
The effects of drought are easy to see in some plants that start to wilt after a day or two without water, but this dry weather and extreme heat have persisted long enough to show serious symptoms in trees, shrubs, and our drought tolerant perennial plants.
Stress accumulates in plants year after year, and this is especially true for trees. I have seen many trees go into a quick decline this summer, but the hot weather is only partially (more…)
One thing I love about working in the horticulture world is that there is always something new to learn or observe about plants. The hot, dry summer we are experiencing makes for an interesting time to learn about plants, although I would prefer to have cooler temperatures and rain!
Plants require water for survival, something we are all acutely aware of during a Texas summer. When it gets dry, plants have very different responses for surviving a lack of water. Generally speaking, plants have three strategies to survive drought (more…)
I keep running into interesting bugs to write about, especially the bugs in the garden that are killing our squash plants and messing with my tomatoes! This week, the bugs have been attacking me! I spent the weekend scratching chigger bites on my ankles, and I could not spend time in the backyard without mosquitos coming after me. It is almost enough to make this outdoors-loving gardener stay inside!
Mosquitos are a pesky problem in the warm months in Texas. The bite can itch, but mosquitos can also carry diseases that affect humans. Fortunately, there are several steps we can take to protect ourselves (more…)
Every time I check the garden over the last few weeks, it seems like it has grown another foot! We have had great rain and good weather lately, and the plants are loving it. We have already enjoyed several meals with fresh potatoes and onions, fried squash, and even some fresh pinto beans. The tomatoes are finally starting to ripen, and I cannot wait for a plate of fresh sliced tomatoes.
Unfortunately, the bugs seem to like this weather, too, and they are making themselves right at home in the garden. One of my least favorite garden pests is the stink bug. Stink bugs are so named because (more…)
The recent rains have been a blessing in Central Texas, and I love seeing so much abundant green growth. When I watched the weather this morning, the meteorologist showed some great drought monitor maps to show how we are slowly catching up to our average rainfall amounts for this time of year.
Even with the rainfall, water conservation is on my mind because our water sources are still low. As of May 24, 2023, Lake Georgetown is at 66% capacity and Lake Travis is at 45% capacity. Much of the county also gets water from Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is at 69% capacity. You can keep up with the drought numbers and our water supply reservoirs at www.waterdataortexas.org/.
As the weather heats up and we get into summer lawn care mode, it can be almost automatic to think we need to start watering (more…)
May is the fun gardening month when vegetable gardens seem to grow overnight! Just this week we have enjoyed fresh lettuce and spinach salads, the last of the Texas Superstar Green Magic broccoli, and a homegrown blackberry cobbler from the garden. The onions are getting close to harvest, and I cannot wait to try out the purple potatoes that I planted this year.
Unfortunately, a few garden pests have also started enjoying the daily buffet found in our garden spot. Warm weather brings out the garden pests, including caterpillars, stink bugs, beetles, aphids, and spider mites. Be sure to monitor your garden frequently so you can stay ahead of pest problems before they damage your garden.
The pest at the top of our minds right now is the squash vine borer (SVB). Most Texas gardeners groan when SVB is mentioned because we all know how quicky it can take a squash plant out just when your mouth was starting to water at the thought of fried squash for supper.
Squash vine borers are a tricky (more…)
Springtime weather brings beautiful wildflowers, lovely weather for picnics, and lots of fungus among us. I wish I was talking about tasty mushrooms that we can sauté with a good steak, but the fungus that is popping up in many lawns this spring is Take All Root Rot.
Take All Root Rot, gaeumannomyces graminis var. garminis, is a fungual disease that causes weak, dead patches in turfgrass. St. Augustine grass is most affected by take-all root rot, but it can also affect bermudagrass and Zoysia grass.
The symptoms of take-all root rot usually appear in spring and early summer (more…)
One of the first signs that I look for to know that spring has finally arrived are blooming shrubs like bridal wreath spirea, forsythia, and quince. The red flowers on quince seem to pop out just when I am starting to think that winter will never end, and my bridal wreath spirea gets the season going with showy white flowers. These early spring blooming shrubs are great to have in the landscape to add color to your landscape earlier in the year.
If you have spring-blooming shrubs, one thing to keep in mind is that they should be pruned in late spring soon after flowering. Spring flowering shrubs set their buds in the fall on last season’s growth. If you prune them in the winter like we recommend for many other trees and shrubs, you will prune off all the buds for spring flowering.
Spring-blooming shrubs that bloom on last year’s growth include (more…)