Category Archives: Seasonal Tips

Tis the Season

The weather here in North Central Texas is doing its best to convince this Northern girl that it’s anything but late autumn heading toward winter (it was in the 80s(F) last week and is dry as a bone) but that’s not stopping anyone from stringing up lights and setting up inflatable snowmen and reindeer in their front yards, so it must be the time for parties, gifts, good food, family, friends and season’s greetings.

If you’re still searching for cards to send to family and friends check out the Hubble Site, actually check it out even if you’ve already got your cards, they’ve created some truly beautiful and unique cards for download and printing — and better still they are free!

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Oh, clever!

I was reading a recent post from cyber friends at Milkwood Farm and this handy little diy gadget caught my eye; I thought it was just so clever (definitely came as one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments) that I just had to share.

“Nifty aid of a piece of cutoff re-bar has squares of precisely 10x10cm, which makes planting without a seeder possible while ensuring the rows don’t wiggle or the space between pea plants truncate.”

See the full post at the Milkwood Permaculture Blog

Stop this garden tour, I want to get off…

Off the bus, the garden tour bus, come on people get your minds out of the gutter. I mean I know it’s spring and gardening is all about sex right now (yes, and asexual reproduction, etc. too) but I’m trying to keep this blog “G” rated. Seriously though, UNCLE, I’m crying uncle. I really thought I’d nearly got the garden in and then yesterday I cleaned out the greenhouse and discovered flats, and flats, and flats of seedlings – some varieties I haven’t even planted yet. I tell you, this garden better produce otherwise I’m going to be very, very grumpy!

Enough whinging though, I really want to talk about chickens. You may remember that I made a pun about fodder in a previous post, but said you’d have to stay tuned to get the joke. Well, I’ve been wanting to follow-up since then but… well see above. Anyway, spring has been glorious here – mild with nice steady rains – so we’ve been doing lots of lawn moving. For years we’ve been throwing the clippings into the chicken run; the girls love, love, love them. However, occasionally we get more than even they can deal with and the clippings go into the compost heap. I got to thinking though (I know, that’s where the trouble starts), wondering if there was a use for these excess clippings a little higher up the food chain? So I got on trusty ol’ Google and started looking into it. The first thing I found was a fellow who discussed making hay (which he uses for bedding) with his clippings. I thought this was pretty clever but wondered “could I use the hay as food, rather than just bedding?” This led me down the rabbit hole to silage. Ideally chickens (and rabbits) should have access to greens year round, and I try to make sure they get at least some by way of scraps and cole crops during the summer and winter, but I know that they aren’t really getting enough. Now I knew about putting up silage for cattle, but I never thought of putting it up for chickens. (If you don’t know what silage is, it is essentially high moisture vegetation that has undergone some aerobic, but primarily anaerobic fermentation in order to be used as fodder.) Mother Earth News has a short article with some excellent resources on the hows and whys of small-scale silage production. Things are starting to get hot and dry here so I think I’ve missed my window for this year, but I’m definitely going to remember it for next year.

In other chicken news, one of the things I least like about keeping chickens is the whole “how to keep their water clean” issue. I tried traditional waters, I tried large bowls but inevitably I ended up with poop soup (and now you all know why the Kale right outside the coop is so big and vibrant). In addition to wanting to keep the water clean and reduce maintenance I also have to be able to add ice or super cold water to the waterers in the summer to ensure that the chickens take on enough fluids; I have the same requirement for the rabbits. Now there are all sorts of commercially available or DIY products (such as the one pictured below) that will address my needs, but to be perfectly honest with you I didn’t want to spend the money to buy one, or time to make one.

I’d remembered reading a couple of articles about watering chickens with rabbit bottle, so I tried it. Result! Poop soup problem solved, but it was still a pain to take them down and fill them up every day. So I went in search of bigger bottles and I stumbled upon flip-top waterers.

I love it when a plan comes together! The chickens took to them quickly (I was a little worried as this uses a nipple instead of roller ball). Yippee… easy, clean water that I can easily add ice to. Now if I could only convince the rabbits to use them.

Important Information For Rose Lovers

The following repost/share is from last year but reports are that this disease is rearing its ugly head this spring as well. If you find this disease on your roses please contact your county extension office and let them know (ask to speak to the horticultural agent).

Rose rosette.

The flowers are springing up…

I don’t know how many other states do this but TXDot hosts a website that points you toward Wildflower and Fall Foliage viewing along Texas roads — spring viewing season will soon be upon us!

All we need is just a little patience…

For those of you outside North Central Texas please bear with me for a couple of sentences, there is something in here for you – I promise!

Here in the DFW area over the past couple of weeks, although some of our nights have been very cool, our daytime temperatures have been comfortable and balmy and “spring fever” is in full force. Perhaps you’ve even been tempted to buy and plant some of those 4inch pots with tomatoes and other warm weather plants that seem to be popping up everywhere? However, as my fellow gardener and blogger over at Texas Triffid Ranch reminded me this morning, this road can lead folly and ruin, heartache and despair.

So how do you know what to plant and when? Have you looked at the back of your seed packet and seen something like “When to sow outdoors: 2 weeks after last frost” but wondered what that meant? Well the place to start is with your last average frost date/frost probability data. (Bearing in mind that for those of you in colder climates you will also need to know when your soil is warm enough to “work” and for your seeds to germinate – ‘cause if it’s too cold for them to germinate you don’t need to worry about a frost getting your seedlings.)

For example here in the DFW area the probability that we will have a freeze episode up to March 10th is 90%, by March 26th it’s 50% and by April 11th it’s 10%. You can find freeze probability data for your area on the NOAA website. Does that mean you have to wait until your last frost date to plant/transplant? No, but you have to ask yourself how much you want to risk. If you’re buying a tomato plant for $3.00 and want to take a gamble on getting some super early tomatoes knowing you’ll likely lose the bet –hey, what the heck. However if your spending big money on a specimen landscape plant that’s likely to be damaged by frost and you don’t have any way of protecting it, or you’re on a limited budget (and that can be time, money or energy) and you need to maximize your potential success, you may want to wait until the odds are more in your favor.  It’s a basic cost/benefit analysis.

If, for whatever reason, juggling seed packets/seed catalogs and average frost is just a little bit too much and you just want to know “what do I plant when?” never fear your local extension office and/or state land grant university can help you out (at least for common crops/plants) – and most of this info is available at the touch of your fingertips.

The links below are examples of this information; offering suggested vegetable varieties to be used and when they should be planted: (Make sure to look at the document to see if they are referring to transplants or sowing seeds)

Vegetable Varieties and Planting Dates – North Central Texas 1

Vegetable Varieties and Planting Dates – North Central Texas 2