Texas Veggie Gardeners!! Stories, Tips and ADVICE!

Discussion in 'Hobbies' started by hippiehen, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. hippiehen

    hippiehen wastefully exuberant

    Aug 27, 2008
    Utopia, Texas
    My name is HippieHen, and I suck at gardening.

    OK, let me rephrase that - I can grow any flower/tree/cutting/transplant you send my way, but if I so much as look at a vegetable seed it shrivels up in terror and turns to ash under my gaze.

    I've been at it for three years and so far I've cornered the market in radishes and carrots, I grow them all year (thank you texas winter). But between drought, bugs, heat, wind, craptastic clay soil, lack of time, knowledge and dinero I have not had much luck with anything else.

    It seems like I'm always two steps behind or ahead of the "right time" for whatever chore it may be - starting seeds/planting/fertilizing, ect. I need some help, a mentor to guide me through the year!

    I've talked to a lot of old timers around here to get their advice and while I love and respect them, they are definitely from the "kill it with fire" generation. I'm surprised my grandpa doesn't glow in the dark he's sprayed so many chemicals over the last 50 years!

    But maybe that's the only way to be successful? Should I throw in the towel and nuke those thrips and aphids? Pour on the miracle gro? [​IMG] I just don't know! And I want some freaking tomatoes for the love of pete!!

    This post is already tl;dr so I'll post up my specific scenario (with pictures!) later today.

    But I can't be the only one out there who needs some green thumb intervention. Anyone else need as much help as me? And I know there are some kick-butt gardeners out there who can give us some help!

  2. frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2011
    Hi Hippie!

    Thanks for starting this thread. I hope there's lots of participation.

    I'm south of Houston. I cut fresh broccoli from the garden last night. OMG, it was delicious. I've gardened for years, but this was my first attempt at cool weather gardening. I'll never be without a fall/winter garden again. No bugs to fight, no sweltering heat... I'm also using this time to get a head start on mulching. I'm raking up all the leftover hay and spreading it between the rows to hopefully, get a jump start on the annual battle of the weeds. I know that hay can/will contribute a little to the weed population, but heck, I just pile more hay on the weeds and they eventually give up.

    Right now some of the chickens get a little garden time. They kick the hay around some but so far they haven't touched the plants. (well, maybe they had a little salad the other day!)

    It looks like you're west of San Antonio so I don't have much advice for your particular area except to make lots of compost and mulch heavily to preserve precious moisture. I have goats, horses and chickens so I've got tons of composting materials. I try to keep my garden organic, so no pesticides for me. The only way I've found to keep the stink bugs off of the tomatoes is to use a physical barrier.

    Last year we placed two stock panels about 8 feet apart, used PVC to make arches over the top and used a light row cover to wrap everything up and had what I called my 'tomato tunnel.' ( I canned tomatoes until I was sick of looking at them, lol.) This past fall I converted that area into a new chicken pen (darn chicken math) so this spring I'm going to try covering each individual tomato plant. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

    Good luck and happy gardening!
  3. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    whenever i plant a garden I end up feeding deer or my neighbor's cows.. it's amazing how they can destroy everything from corn to pepper plants to tomatoes in one night... *sighs*
  4. frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2011
    That's so discouraging! To do all that work and have it destroyed - GRRRRRR

    Hmmmm, maybe have a slumber party in the garden(?) - I hear venison is mighty tasty!
  5. yinepu

    yinepu Overrun With Chickens

    oh venison is.. but I think my neighbor wouldn't be very happy if I invited one of his cows to dinner!
  6. frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2011
    You're probably right about that! Hopefully, the neighbor will be a little more neighborly and keep his critters home! Maybe ask him to fix his fence in exchange for fresh veggies????
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    This past year was hell on vegetable gardens. The only thing I could grow well last spring/summer was weeds. Oh and my Basil did ok. Everything else, in spite of watering, just didn't do well. I have large trees in the yard and I'm thinking they put out extra extra long roots and just sucked up every bit of moisture I put down. But that's all right I suppose, at least I didn't lose any of the trees.

    But once it finally started to rain, WATCH OUT. Even my roses are still going crazy. I agree, planting at the right time is Key in Texas. And the right varieties. Most of the country has very different weather so we always see "cold tolerant" but almost never "heat tolerant" on vegetable seed descriptions. I've yet to find a tomato that truly does well year after year and I'm still searching. I want an heirloom but most of those are better for "up north." Even the heirlooms sold right here in Houston tend to get blight and the Lord only knows what all else. And I want a red one, not some oddball color. Medium fruit, indeterminate, early. There's tons of hybrids that fit the bill but not many heirlooms for our area.

    Oh, and spinach. I found the wonderful India Spinach Beet last year and that's my green. It bolts in the fall but even during the hottest of summer was giving me tasty spinach tasting big leaves. I did water of course and had a really thick mulch. There's two things you can never have too much of: Compost and Mulch.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2012
  8. frustratedearthmother

    frustratedearthmother Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2011
    Galanie is right that it was a tough year with the lack of rain. My garden was very slow to get started, but after it got going, and with tons of water, I had some outstanding performances. Most of my tomatoes out did themselves. The heirlooms out performed any and all hybrids. I have two garden areas so I can keep them well separated. I don't think I'll ever plant a hybrid tomato again. Cherokee Purple was outstanding, and they're not really very purple at all. I had a yellow cherry type heirloom (can't think of the name right now - need more coffee) that went crazy. I put tons of those in the dehydrator and they made a great snack. Speaking of the dehydrator....my dehydrator was my best friend this past season. I cut figs in half and dehydrated them - pure heaven! But, the best dehydrated veggie ever is plain ol' okra. My husband calls it 'coke-ra' because it's so addictive. I sliced the okra in rounds, salted them, and dehydrated them until they were crisp. HIs co-workers clamored for it every day. OH, and another thing to do with okra - even some of the overgrown ones - grill them or oven roast them with plenty of season salt or Tony Chacherie and maybe a little cumin - yummy! There is a little slime factor, but not much, and the flavor is delish! I had great gobs of squash, both winter and summer. I experimented with a hybrid winter squash called Argonaut. Three plants completely filled a 16 x 20 area and the squash were HUGE! When I say huge, I'm talking 30 lbs of huge. They are great keepers, and have tons of totally useable flesh. Right now I've got broccoli and collards going like gangbusters. I cut some earlier this week and I'll make another cutting tonight. Radishes and lettuces are doing well also, but I'm getting impatient with the cabbage. It doesn't seem to be making a head, just big leaves so far. Galanie, I've got to find some of the India Spinach Beet you referred to. Is it strictly a green, or does it make a beet also? I'm doing something wrong as far as spinach is concerned. I've never had good luck with it no matter what I do.

    Here's a question for the group - Do you start your own tomato and pepper plants or buy started plants? If you do start plants - when do you start them for your area?

    Compost is indeed a gardeners best friend!
  9. Mic's Chicks

    Mic's Chicks Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 19, 2011
    Joshua, TX
    Hi! I am just south of Ft Worth. I bought a house on 6 acres this past year and moved from in town. I hope to plant a veggie garden this spring. It may have to be mostly in raised beds this year, unless I break down and buy a tiller. There are several overgrown flower beds in my yard. I may end up planting some veggies in them.

    I have started a compost pile as I have plenty of horse manure and chicken manure and leaves.

    My chickens roam free during the day.....can anyone suggest how I can keep them out of my flower pots? They keep scratching the dirt out and it makes a huge mess all over the front porch! I am considering putting a thick layer of mulch in the pots to try to discourage them. Any suggestions?
  10. Frost Homestead

    Frost Homestead eggmonger

    Jul 9, 2011
    Lago Vista, TX
    cool, glad I was able to find this thread. I'm a longtime backyard gardener. I like to use native and medicinal plants to landscape and just went to an awesome place in Leander called Hill Country Natives. They literally have all of the hard to find natives I've been searching for forever. I bought some sorrel, comfrey, and a barbados cherry tree.

    In the garden I've got potatoes, white onion sets, and garlic in the ground so far. I plant mostly in containers because it saves about 50% more water than ground planting or raised beds, with this drought I haven't been able to collect any significant amounts of rain water so I'm stuck using the hose. I've got tons (literally hundreds) of empty pots out in the garden waiting to be seeded. This year I'm growing carrots, cucumbers, swiss chard, beets, tomatillo, and about 10 different kinds of chilis and peppers. I think I've got anaheim, red, yellow and orange bell, thai peppers, explosive embers, chinese 5 color, pablano, banana, jalapeno, and some others I can't think of right now [​IMG]

    What is everyone else planning on growing this year? Anyone doing completely organic?

    I figured out a good way to get the aphids off of my plants, at night I put a extension cord with a light attached out in the middle of the garden. the light attracts brown lacewings which are ferocious predators of garden pests. I had aphids or some similar little bugs eating the tender new growth on my pepper plants and after a few night with the light on there were literally NONE left and the plants remained bug free for the rest of the fall. anyone else tried anything similar?

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