Fall has always been a favorite time to garden in Texas, but why stop there? There are quite a few veggies that when planted now yield sweeter, tastier roots, stems or leaves when tended through winter.
The entirety of North Texas sits in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8a, which means our 30-year average of extreme low temperatures puts us in the range of 10-15 F. Not to say we can’t get much cooler, but most years we know (roughly) what to expect.
Most of our cool season vegetables can handle frosts when temps dip below freezing, while others fare better when protected in a cold frame or row cover for hard freezes. But there’s a select group of crops that are pretty tough, producing through the biting cold and tolerant to temperatures 12 F and below.
Drought, extreme heat or cold, pest and disease can all hinder our best efforts at cultivating fruits and vegetables here in North Texas. In addition to traditional tips on how to overcome these challenges, you’ve branched out to expand your edible palette. What is “eating the yard” all about?
Some years, gardening around north Texas is pretty rough. Late or early freezes, drought, extreme heat, pest insects or disease can all hinder our best efforts at cultivating fruits and vegetables. I am, however, fascinated by finding solutions to those challenges. Fortunately, there are many ways we can try to overcome the formidable growing seasons: improve soil, select better adapted plants, use more efficient irrigation systems. But there’s another solution: Eat the yard.
Not everything, mind you, and certainly not anything that you can’t 100 percent identify. But if you look in your landscape, you’ll likely find plants that have been eaten for thousands of years. Nature was once mankind’s grocery store, offering a variety of foods and provisions. Some of those plants also happened to look pretty. The nursery industry took those plants, improved their ornamental value, and sold them for their aesthetics alone. Now it seems like most of our culture has forgotten about the edible value of these plants.
But you can still find common landscape plants that grow in and around our subdivisions that are pretty delicious in addition to looking good and growing with little care. Here are some of my favorites:
As cooler temperatures prevail, perhaps the best time to plant perennial herbs is here. You may grow them for culinary value, but you might be surprised how many cold-hardy herbs look as good as they taste when added to the landscape.
Here are a few of my favorite ornamental herbs that thrive in North Texas year-round. Plant them now to use all through the holiday season and for seasons to come.
Daniel Cunningham with Texas A&M AgriLife shows how to make seedbombs, seeds encapsulated in compost and clay to form a protective barrier, minimizing damage by pest insects, birds or soil-borne diseases until they pop up in the spring. (Published Monday, Sep 10, 2018 | Credit: NBC 5 News)
The seed bomb garden trend has exploded on the North Texas landscape lately. Also called seed balls, seed bombs are seeds encapsulated in compost and clay, which forms a protective barrier, minimizing damage by pest insects, birds or soil-borne diseases. Then when the next heavy rains come, the clay coating disintegrates and ample moisture gives the seeds the best chance for survival.
Compost adds nutrients and beneficial microbes but also helps the ball hold water, working like a sponge, keeping seeds wet during the germination process. The technique has gained popularity as a practical way to revegetate degraded soils.
Seasoned gardeners accustomed to Texas summers and city-imposed watering restrictions might turn their attention to the water-saving practices of rainwater harvesting or the sustainable gardening practice of composting, but in some of the stricter HOAs, these practices weren’t allowed. (Published Wednesday, Aug 29, 2018 | Credit: NBC 5 News)
With record-breaking heat and drought conditions, gardening in North Texas is a challenge in itself. But in some neighborhoods governed by homeowners associations, gardeners have faced additional constraints when attempting to save water and drought-proof their landscapes.
While HOAs offer benefits of increased property values and neighborhood attractiveness, most have landscaping rules that require a certain aesthetic standard. These standards often restrict the type of plant material, sometimes even to plants not well-adapted to the Texas climate.
Triple-digit temperatures are back in North Texas. Today it’s expected to be 102 degrees outside and that number will climb to 106 by Friday. Daniel Cunningham, a horticulturist with Texas A&M’s AgriLife, has ideas about protecting your lawn while the heat is on.