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.


Growing Coriander

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on 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 in curry and other flavorings.

Coriander is a cool season herb that will grow bitter if it gets over 75F.  It is best planted in the spring and enjoyed until the first of summer heat, or in the fall and enjoyed until first frost.  Coriander also grows well in pots as a houseplant as long as it gets at least eight hours of sun.

Coriander should be planted in rows twelve to eighteen inches apart.  It should be spaced six to twelve inches apart in rows and planted to a depth of one to one and a half inches.  Seeds can be planted inside and started to give a longer season before coriander bolts from the heat or freezes from the cold.

Coriander needs a general nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion after it has been harvested four or five times.

Harvesting cilantro is simple.  Cut the leaves at ground level.  Do not cut more than one third of the plant at a time or you will weaken the plant.

Harvesting coriander is a little bit more complicated.  You must wait until the plant flowers out and produces seeds.  When most of them are dry, cut the flower stalk and put upside down in a paper bag.  As the seed heads dry, the shuck will split and the seeds will collect at the bottom of the bag.  Store the collected seeds in a jar in a cool, dark place.  Grind them up or use them whole.

Gardenbookfrontcoverthumbnail For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up
Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today!


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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

Cedar Apple Rust

June 11, 2012

Cedar Apple Rust is a fungal infection that occurs frequently in damp weather.  Despite the name, Cedar Apple Rust can infect other plants besides cedar and apple trees.

Read the full article →

Spider mites

June 4, 2012

Are your plants showing yellow leaves, or even brown ones?  Do you have little cobwebs on the back of your leaves?  You may have spider mites, a common pest of ornamental plants.  These mites are tiny, almost microscopic, so they are very hard to see.  They vary in color from red to brown to green […]

Read the full article →

Haiku Day on the Blogathon

May 21, 2012

Gardeners  green thumbs, Growing various plants now, Harvesting them soon,   As you can see, haiku is not my skill.  However, today is haiku day on the blogathon. For more help gardening, buy my book, Preparing A Vegetable Garden From The Ground Up Available in print or ebook from or other retailers, this book […]

Read the full article →

Jane Goodall Still Helps Chimpanzees

May 13, 2012

Growing up, I eagerly followed Jane Goodall in the National Geographic stories about chimpanzees.  I even asked for, and received, the very expensive book she wrote about her observations of her chimpanzees, The Chimpanzees of Gombe.  She had a remarkable career but has paid for it in health difficulties that keep her out of the […]

Read the full article →

Texas Two Step and Fire Ants

May 9, 2012

What, you may be asking yourself, does the Texas two step have with fire ants?  It actually is a two step method of killing the nasty little creatures.  For those of you who don’t know what a fire ant is, consider yourself lucky.  It is a little red and black ant that is originally from […]

Read the full article →

Monarch Butterfly on Aster

May 7, 2012

I am seeing more monarch butterflies this year than I saw all summer last year.  The only one I saw last year was this one trying to weather a wind storm on an aster.

Read the full article →

Comments Problem

May 6, 2012

For some reason, the comments have been turned off on my garden blog.  I have tried reloading the theme, disabling the plugins, reloading wordpress, and nothing helped.  I have this error message: Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/lambda1/public_html/wp-content/themes/thesis_184/lib/classes/options_design.php on line 1433 Can anyone tell me how to fix this?  If so, please email […]

Read the full article →

Squash Blossom

May 5, 2012

Did you know squash blossoms are edible?  In fact, Southerners take them and batter them, then fry them and eat them like fried okra.  Since only the female squash blossoms bear fruit, you can eat the male blossoms without taking away from the productivity of your vines, provided you let the bees and other bugs […]

Read the full article →

How to Move From Blogger to WordPress Without Losing Your Posts

May 4, 2012

This is a reprint of an article I wrote last year at the height of the Bl0gger Outage.  I thought it might help some people again this year who decide to make the jump to WordPress. I know the Blogger outage has made some people decide to move to WordPress.  First, is a free […]

Read the full article →

Flowering Quince

May 3, 2012

Flowering quince, also called Japonica, is one of the earliest plants to bloom in the garden.  The bright flowers may be red, white, pink, or salmon and appear on the branches before the leaves for a bit of color in a still dreary landscape. In late summer, oblong to round yellowish fruit appear on the […]

Read the full article →

3 Money Saving Recipes from Your Garden

May 2, 2012

One of the best things about growing vegetables is getting to eat them fresh from the garden.  Since I am recipe challenged, I asked Michelle Rocha to contribute a guest post on the subject: Summer is just around the corner, so everyone is preparing his or her garden. You need to prepare for the future as […]

Read the full article →

Rose Rosette Disease

May 1, 2012

Rose Rosette Disease is thought to be caused by a virus that came over to the United States in the 1800s with Asian wild roses.  Many of these roses were planted by settlers all over the United States and have become naturalized.  Rose Rosette Disease is now infecting cultivated roses throughout the United States, but […]

Read the full article →