Time to Plant for Fall

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on July 29, 2014

In the South, we are blessed (or cursed) with a long period of warm weather that allows us to have three gardens a year:  the spring garden, the summer garden, and the fall garden.  Of the three, the fall garden generally produces the most and is the most pleasant to work.  Plants are put in when it is hot, do most of their growing during the hot months, and then deliver their bounty in the relatively cool fall.

Fall gardens are planted starting in July in most of the South, when the tomatoes and peppers go in.  After that, in August and early September, the hot season crops of corn, beans, black-eyed peas, squash, cucumbers, and melons go in.  Finally, in September and even into October, you plant your cool season crops, such as beets, turnips, radishes, carrots, lettuce, greens, and spinach.  These crops will continue producing even after a light freeze in the South.

How do you know for sure when to plant a given crop in the South?  You can cheat and go to your Extension office and get a nice list of when to plant each crop.  However, if you do not want to do that, you can find out your average first frost date (it is November 15th in my area).  Then simply look on the seed package for the “days to harvest” number, count back the days from that date, add a week for harvesting, and plant on that date.  Some years you will get frozen out, if the cold comes early.  Other years you will get extra vegetables, if it comes late.  However, on balance, this will be about right for your area.


Preparing Your Garden for Spring

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on May 1, 2013

Preparing Your Garden This Spring

Now that spring is here, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your garden at home and getting it ready for upcoming blooming season.  Before you can start to reap the benefits of a beautiful backyard or front lawn, it’s important to make sure that you’ve got everything settled so you can get the most out of your work.

If you’ve got anything in your garden or yard that blooms or grows every years, it’s time to start the cleanup work so you can make sure they’re just as beautiful this year as they were last year.  Grab a pair of prunes and make sure you’ve cut back the fruit trees and get rid of any dead or decaying pieces of your rose bushes.  Think of plants as very similar to the hair on your head: they both greatly benefit from being trimmed every once in a while so the new growth can breathe properly.

If you’re the type of person who keeps your garden in shape all year around, the chances are you put down some of the hardy winter mulch to keep your plants protected throughout the colder months.  Now that it’s spring and is’ beginning to get warmer outside, it’s time to get rid of that mulch you put down.  If you don’t remove it, you risk your plants suffocating under the weight when they try to grow this year.

Buy your mixed wildflower seeds now and start them early.  Grab some soil and a few flower pots and start growing them inside your home so you can get an early start on them once you’ve put them into the ground.  This will give you a few extra weeks of having something growing in your garden while everything else is just starting out, meaning you’ll have some beautiful colors sooner than you would otherwise.

Take not of any weeds that might also be thriving in spring’s warmer temperatures and get rid of them immediately.  Gardening becomes quite a chore if you wait too long and the weeds have taken hold on your flower bed or lawn so make sure you get rid of them before they can really start.  The sooner you get rid of them, the better, and any treatments you give your lawn while you’re growing your garden won’t be risked on pesky weeds.

May is a great time to start putting down your mulch.  Since spring is known for being quite wet in the month of April, it’s better to wait until the ground has dried and warmed up a bit more before putting down your mulch material.  May is the best time for this.  Mulch helps keep your garden looking nice while helping your plants retain the moisture you give them when the days get warmer.

As soon as you start seeing new growth with your plants (both old and new), it’s time get the fertilizer into the garden.  Fertilizer is key to helping your garden be the best it can be and it will do wonders for helping your plants survive and thrive in the upcoming months.

A great looking garden is something that can really help the look of a home and it’s a great hobby for most people, but it can’t just be begun.  There are a few steps you need to take before you can get your beautiful colors in your yard, but they don’t take a lot of work and you’ll be much happier for having done them.



Growing Coriander

March 31, 2013

The Coriander plant produces two different kinds of herbs with different uses.  The greens, or cilantro, are used in Middle Eastern, Asian, and Latin American cuisine.  The coriander seed is used as a spice in whole or ground form.  It has been used since ancient times for its medicinal qualities and as an important ingredient […]

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Preparing Your Garden For Spring

February 28, 2013

How to Prepare Your Garden for Spring This is a guest post by Lucy Markham.  I hope you enjoy these reminders of what to do to get your garden ready for spring. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just getting into the game, then now is a perfect time to start preparing your own little […]

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Attracting Toads to Your Garden

January 3, 2013

A single adult toad can eat as many as 10,000 insect pests in a single summer.  Toads are environmentally friendly, don’t damage plants or other items in your garden, and are one hundred percent organic pest control.  How can you get a toad to call your garden home? Toads need the same things any other […]

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Planting Fruit Trees in Winter

December 17, 2012

There’s nothing quite like enjoying fruits from your own apple trees, Victoria plum trees or other delightful fruit-producing trees. You might be surprised to know that winter is actually the best time to plant a fruit tree, even though the grey skies make it seem lifeless. Why Plant Fruit Trees in Winter By planting your […]

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Which Strawberries Should You Grow?

November 29, 2012

A hot summer’s day is never complete without a delicious bowl of strawberries and cream. And the best strawberries are always the ones you’ve grown yourself; they’re fresher, riper and much, much tastier. You might think that growing strawberry plants is hard and time consuming – surely it’s quicker to pop down to the local […]

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Dogs and Routines

October 7, 2012

This post about my dog Amber is part of a bigger narrative about amazing dogs going the extra mile. Thank you www.wooddogcrate.com for making this possible. Dogs are funny.  They very much like routine and resent it when a person does something at the wrong time, or doesn’t  do something at the correct time.  My dogs, […]

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Anthracnose in Tomatoes

October 6, 2012

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that will ruin your tomatoes in warm, moist weather.  It leaves in the soil and gets on the plant when you water it and splash soil on the plant.  The disease doesn’t do much to leaves or green tomatoes, but causes a rotten circle in ripe ones that can take […]

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Take Care of Your Gardening Tools

October 5, 2012

As garden season winds down, it is a good idea to take some time to maintain your garden tools before you put them away for the winter. Remove all dirt and debris from them with a garden hose and a stiff brush. Sharpen all the tools that cut and cultivate in your garden.  A metal […]

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Intelligent Disobedience in Service Dogs

September 29, 2012

This post about my dog Amber is part of a bigger narrative about amazing dogs going the extra mile. Thank you www.dogtrainingcollars.com for making this possible. Intelligent disobedience is one of the hardest things for a service dog to learn.  It is a very complicated behavior that asks your dog to actually disobey a command […]

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Growing Fall Asters

September 27, 2012

Fall asters are a delightful addition to your garden.  Their startling lavender petals with gold centers provide welcome color at a time when many flowers are done blooming. They are good to plant around your fall garden to attract beneficial insects. Fall asters is native from Texas and New Mexico  all the way north to […]

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Simple Garden Design Tips For Busy Homes

September 25, 2012

Approaches to garden design vary, from those containing strictly regimented rows of flowers, plants or vegetables, to those where it appears that a handful of seeds have been scattered on the ground and left to get on with it. By taking an approach somewhere between the two extremes, gardeners can design a space that is […]

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Attracting Toads to Your Garden

September 24, 2012

For those of you who wish to use fewer and less toxic pesticides in the garden, you should attract toads to your garden.  A single adult toad can eat 10,000 insect pests in a single summer.  Toads eat most insects, including slugs, gypsy moths, and earwigs.  In the United States, we have 21 different species […]

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Fishing with Dogs

September 22, 2012

This post about my dogs Sandy and Amber is part of a bigger narrative about amazing dogs going the extra mile. Thank you www.dogbarkcollar.com for making this possible. Sandy is my Australian Cattle Dog.  She wandered up to my house when she was about eight months old.  I could not find her owner and decided to […]

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Time to Clean Your Fruit Orchards

September 19, 2012

With the end of fruit season, it is time to clean your fruit orchards.  Remove any debris or fallen fruit from your orchard.  Pick and discard fruit left on the trees.  These steps remove places that pests and diseases overwinter and reduce your problems for next year.  Stop all pruning until the normal winter pruning […]

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How a Tree Dies

September 14, 2012

Home owners are frequently stunned when a tree that appeared to make it through the drought last year “suddenly” dies.  Actually, trees take a long time to die.  Many trees that appear to be dying now have been dying all year from the drought.  It wasn’t just the drought that killed them, but the high […]

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Fall Gardening in Full Swing

September 12, 2012

September is a busy month for gardeners in North Texas.  Cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale should be put out in the first part of the month.  Watering them in with a dilute solution of fertilizer will give them a boost as they start out. Radishes, beets, Swiss chard and turnips can be […]

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Training Service Dogs Hard Work

September 8, 2012

This post about my dog Amber is part of a bigger narrative about amazing dogs going the extra mile. Thank you www.dogfencediy.com for making this possible. Every once in a while I write about my dogs and this is one of those times.  Because I had a service dog that I trained, people often ask […]

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Pineberry Fields Forever

August 23, 2012

When pineberries first hit the market in 2010, many people thought they were a hoax. And indeed the milk-white strawberries with red pips look more than just exotic, they look alien. However, they are real, and what’s more they taste absolutely delicious. The flavour is somewhere between that of a strawberry and that of a […]

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How drought kills trees

July 30, 2012

Many people are surprised that their trees are dying when we have had a lot of rain in Texas.  However, most of those trees are dying from the effects of last year’s drought.  It usually takes a tree a year or two to die so people are still losing trees from last year.  Drought kills […]

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Growing Cilantro

July 4, 2012

Cilantro is a Greek herb that is in the same family as parsley.  It is used in a variety of dishes in cuisines as varied as Mexican and Thai.  Coriander, the seed of the cilantro plant, is also used to flavor a wide variety of dishes.   Cilantro prefers light, well-drained sandy loam soil, but […]

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Growing Dill

July 1, 2012

Dill was introduced into this country from Asia and is used as a culinary herb.  Both the fernlike leaves and the flowers are edible.  After the first year, dill readily self-seeds and will come back year after year. Dill is seeded directly into the garden after all danger of frost is passed.  Seeds should be […]

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Hand Pollinating Squash and Cucumbers

June 27, 2012

Are you having problems with your cucumbers and squash growing to two or three inches long and then rotting?  You may be having pollination problems.  Normally, squash and cucumbers have male and female flowers.  Bees bring pollen from the male flowers to pollinate the female flowers.  With the problems bees have been having with colony […]

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Growing Your Own Lemon Tree

June 26, 2012

Now that salad days are finally here again, there’s nothing lovelier on home-grown summer leaves than a drizzle of virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shop bought fruits are fairly cheap and plentiful, but imagine the pleasure of plucking a fragrant fruit from your very own lemon tree. And there’s no […]

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