Tag Archives: Texas

All the pretty (wild)flowers

KLRU offers a great video to “go beyond the pretty faces to explore how wildflowers impact our food chain and their symbiosis to a healthy economy, wildlife, and ecologoical security.”

Holy Jurassic Suburban Jungle Batman…

Okay so technically I should have referenced the Carboniferous Period, but somehow I can’t imagine Robin saying “Carboniferous Period”. Anyway, I’m back!

We had a lovely holiday. We were away for a week taking in some of the sites of the Texas panhandle (yes there are some) and the high desert mountains of New Mexico. I’m in love with New Mexico, I completely understand why they call it “The Land of Enchantment”, and I’m convinced that (as long as you stay away from the chains) you can’t get a bad meal there… but I’m skipping ahead of myself.

We began our trip by heading to Canyon, Texas to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, with a fascinating history. According to the Handbook of Texas Online:

“The Spanish name Palo Duro means “hardwood” and refers to the hardwood shrubs and trees found in the canyon. Palo Duro Canyon was carved into the eastern Caprock escarpment of the High Plains … by the headwaters of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and by attendant weathering. The head of the canyon lies fifteen miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall County, and the canyon extends sixty miles southeast through Armstrong County and into Briscoe County. It reaches depths of 800 feet from rim to floor (approximately 3,500 feet to 2,400 feet above sea level) and average widths of more than six miles. The steep sides of Palo Duro Canyon consist of bright, banded layers of orange, red, brown, yellow, grey, maroon, and white rocks that represent four different geologic periods and a time span of more than 240 million years …  Adding to the canyon’s scenic grandeur are numerous pinnacles, buttes, and mesas, each protected by a cap of erosion-resistant sandstone or other rock. The natural vegetation of the canyon consists of a variety of grasses and other xerophytic vegetation such as prickly pear, yucca, mesquite, and juniper. Cottonwood, willow, and salt cedar grow along the banks of Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

Because of the availability of wood, water, game, edible wild plants, raw materials for weapons and tools, and shelter from harsh winter winds, Palo Duro Canyon was a favorite camp site for both prehistoric peoples and later Indian tribes. The first known inhabitants, who date from the period between 10,000 and 5,000 B.C. were big-game hunters of now-extinct giant bison and mammoths …

The first Europeans to see Palo Duro Canyon were probably the members of the Coronado expedition, who may have camped and rested there in the late spring of 1541 while searching for Quivira and the treasures it reputedly contained. The region was occupied at that time by bands of pre-horse-culture Apache Indians who depended heavily on buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter. In the eighteenth century, after the Plains Indians had acquired horses, the canyon became a major campground of the Comanches and Kiowas. Traders from New Mexico called Comancheros frequently came to Palo Duro to trade with the Indians. The first Anglo-Americans to explore Palo Duro Canyon were members of Capt. Randolph B. Marcy‘s 1852 expedition in search of the sources of the Red River … In 1876 a group of army engineers, teamsters, and civilian draftsman was in the area to explore the headwaters of the Red River and conduct a topographic and scientific survey … That same year, Charles Goodnight drove a herd of cattle into Palo Duro Canyon to begin the first commercial ranch in the Panhandle, the JA.

Although the canyon remained the domain of the cattlemen for the next half century, it also became a popular picnicking and camping place for residents in the surrounding area. In 1933 the state of Texas purchased land in the upper canyon to establish Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park. Initial improvements, including construction of a road to the floor of the canyon, were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of the National Park Service.”

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Pod People in Palo Duro Canyon

Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience as much of the park as we would have liked because the April Fool’s Day temps in the canyon were 90+o (F) and there was a bike race on that made walking the nice, shaded river trail we found a little too exciting (I just can’t move out of the way that fast!). None of that will dissuade us from another visit though, plus I got a great little ethnobotany book while I was there.

After our canyon visit we spent a couple of days soaking our weary selves in the snowy New Mexican mountains before heading off to Santa Fe.

Near Ojo Caliente Hot Springs (New Mexico)

I won’t bore you with gushing on about how much I loved Santa Fe. Suffice it to say it was exactly what we needed. Especially since it apparently rained a bit and then got warm and sunny while we were gone, and this is the garden (err, jungle) I came back to.

I swear there is a veggie garden in there somewhere

I think it’s fair to say “I’m in the weeds”. And I’m not even showing you my lower growing beds (primarily because I need to excavate from under building debris that has been “stored” on them before I can call them growing beds again). Oh well, no rest for the wicked and more fodder for the blog (pun intended but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see why). If you don’t hear from me in a couple of days please send out the search party.

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!

Cha-ching, Cha-ching

Seriously folks, it’s time for an intervention! I spent so much time out in the garden weeding, planting, and bumping seedlings into bigger pots over the past couple of days that I completely forgot I had paying work to do! And then the “I need more plants” bug bit and, well, I ordered MORE plants. For those of you who are still in the “I think I’d like a little garden” frame of mind, let this be a warning that “a little garden” is a gateway drug to full-blown gardening obsession and this is an example of your brain (and dwindling pocket-book) on gardening.

Plants are all so pretty though…here is some of what I got. These plants are all known to work in my local climate and soil conditions; the pictures represent examples of the types of plants I got but not necessarily the variety. The pictures link to a site called “my garden insider“, “a website dedicated to providing gardeners with information and inspiration on the activity of gardening.” I hope they inspire you.

Happy gardening!

I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper, we are peppers all…

Greeting fearless followers,

The weather here in NCTx is stunningly beautiful, but I sincerely hope that if you and/or your family live in other parts of the country you are all safe and well. What do they say about March: “in like a lion, out like a lamb.”

On a happier note, isn’t that a gorgeous pepper?

Did you know peppers are perennials? They just happen to be very tender perennials (which is why most of us grow them as annuals, much like we here in Texas tend to grow Strawberries as annuals — because it’s difficult to nurse them through the summer heat). The beautiful specimen above was picked from a plant in my greenhouse about two hours ago and has since become part of my dinner. So this fall (I know what you’re thinking: “how can this woman be thinking about fall when it’s not even spring yet?”) before you pull out your pepper plants and toss them on the compost heap why don’t you check and see if there is warm, sunny place where it/they can live for the winter and maybe it/they will grace you with fresh peppers over the winter. Even if it doesn’t it’s still worth trying to over winter one (or a few) as you’ll have a great big, healthy pepper plant to put back out in the garden come spring and a jump on early pepper production.

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