Anyone in the panhandle?

luvncanninFebruary 24, 2012

I am from around the Denton area but planting or shall I say growing out here is a whole different ball game. I am just wondering how people deal with the wind and extreme heat flower, herb and veggie gardening? Last summer was my first experience and it was pretty tough. There are different challenges here and was wondering if you have any tips. I appreciate your input and love reading about all the different ideas people have.

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Yes, I'm sure he'll be along soon! :)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2012 at 11:46PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

First, grow what grows here. Second, learn how to mulch and water to best effect. Its easy to have stuff dry out up here before you even know it.

Amarillo has some master gardening programs that would really help you get specific pointers about the things you might want to be growing.

This is a good time of year to figure out what you are gonna try to go with. Let me know what you are thinking about.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:40PM
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Thank you melvalena and rcnaylor.
Yes last year watering was a full time job. I was told not to mulch veggies last year but i wish would have.
I have been looking up lots of info for our area on the best varieties of veggies and herbs. I am not sure on flowers besides marigolds in the veg garden because my flower beds by the house are total shade.
I have a veg bed that was used tilled and planted by a previous owner but has been dormant 2 or 3 years. on the south side is a huge barn. I will plant along the barn far enough to avoid the shade. my bed is 25 x 90. I can go as big as I want but this seems a good size for what I need.And I am probably going to have to put a fence around the area because of pests.
seeds i have are...
sugar snap peas
yellow squash
onion sets
basil, parsley, dill, cilantro
i will get plants for
tomatoes and peppers.

Since the bulk of my diet is veggies and I want to help several others and have some leftover to can does this seem like enough? I do not want to run short.
I have a garden plan but dont know how to link yet.
I can always give away extras and I dont work june or july so I am available.
thank you for any ideas to adjust to this area. It is a whole new ball game. I have gardened in places where I never had to water from a hose!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:58PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Well, I should have added a big asterisk to the first post.

Last year doesn't count. We had the lowest rainfall on record. Some of the highest heat.

Gardening up here last year, by people who have been doing it forever... was like head butting a brick wall!

That is not the norm. Yes, it takes a little extra patience and perserverance, but generally yields pretty good results. Some things we can grow here they can't in the heat and humidity of the rest of Texas.

So, my first advice is "forget last year" and hope for something sorta normal this year!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 5:41PM
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Thats what all the locals told me because I was so discouraged last year I thought it was hopeless. They said this is not normal try again. so I am here trying again.

I want to learn how to deal with some of the same problems I had last year that WILL likely be an issue again like wind and heat.

Hopefully there will be rain and plenty of it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Lin barkingdogwoods

Hi Kim!

I don't live in the panhandle, but I was looking at your list and wanted to make some suggestions **to run by RC to see if they'll do well in the panhandle**.

- Malabar spinach (should perform all summer)
- winter squash - delicata, spaghetti squash, maybe some heirloom varieties
- Asparagus (you can buy crowns in the feed store to plant now, but won't be able to harvest for a bit)
- cantaloupe
- Swiss chard (may need to wait till fall)

Plan a spot for fall planting:
-mustard greens

I haven't done all of these since I've been in Texas, but they've all been successfully grown by one or more friends here!

But again - check with RC!!!


    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:07PM
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cygnwulf(7b DFW)

After having grown up in west Texas, near Lubbock, I'll try to make a few suggestions.
First, anything that is sensitive to frost should be kept indoors until as close to Easter as possible. I know that feels a little late, particularly as mild as our winter has been this year, but every year I tried to get started earlier, it snowed the week of Easter.

Be sure you know what kind of soil you have. Our west Texas soils can go from red sand to white caliche in a relatively small geographical area.

As for your list, I see some things there that should do great and a few that never worked out for me. The peppers and onions will usually do stellar, with a pungancy that is related to how much water they get (more will make them milder and sweeter). The roots should do ok, just remember to water deep. The squash, and pumpkins, and to an extent the cukes, should do well as long as you can keep them from drying out. I know several farmers in the area who had great pumpkin crops over the years. I know there are a lot of farmers in the area who grow corn but I've never grown it myself.
The 'winter' veggies, the peas, spinach, etc. can be hit or miss. some of them you might could even plant now. I know I've harvested swiss chard all winter before. If we have a mild, damp spring they will do pretty well, but if we have a spring that goes from cold to hot (like last year did) you may have a small window with them. Remember that the Cabbage and spinach will appreciate a fair amount of water too.
Your herbs should do great, particularly the Basil. I would plant them around the edge where if they get drier than the other plants they will still be ok, and possibly even stronger flavored because of it.

Tomatoes can be good. Be sure that you pick varieties that are heat tolerant, (think varities like Heatwave and Sunmaster, or even cherries like Sungold or Sweet 100s), or short season. You have a very long season, so long in fact that you can even think of yourself as having 2, so plan accordingly. I usually wouldn't go for long season maters so much, I liked trying to get them out quickly and then replanting. Early girl can be an AMAZING tomato, particularly if you let it get a little water stressed while it's ripening the fruit.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Thank you for all the great help.
I have sandy loam and it has quite a bit of compost added to it. I will also be adding more before planting the bulk of the garden.

I was going to get out and get my letttuces and spinach planted but am having to wait a few days after the rain to till. I am ready to go. I decided to hill around my lettuce/spinach area until the other crops come up enough
to shade them and keep the wind off. who knows they may alredy be done by then. last year I waited to late to plant lettuce.
Cygnwulf are those tomato varieties I could get at a nursery? I have never really looked at he different varieties that much.
I definately want ones I can cook or can.

I can hardly wait to get going.
I am northeast of lubbock below the cap. Alot of the really bad weather misses us here, but not the wind!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:32PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

In which direction does the worst of the wind come from, how about a wall. And you need to read "the Worst Hard Time". It is already to late to plant spinach down here. Does your county agricultural Extension people have a planting schedule . I know when I google , I get one for my county and it is invaluable.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:06PM
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Cygnwulf-Pleased to find another person who has experienced the high quality of some Early Girls grown in this area.

Luvncannin-Although we had a good discussion on the vegetable forum, I think I might be able to add something new.

Sandy loam soil is ideal; I would like to have it.

Early Girl is widely available at nurseries in this area.

This is a another very hot/dry start to the growing season for much of the area. It's great you got enough rain last night to delay tilling. You can use the West Texas Mesonet site to check your area's soil temperatures.

Given what is happening in my garden, I would say forget the spinach. I planted in October, have been harvesting since January and noticed one plant already bolting to seed today. I set out lettuce transplants a couple of weeks ago and have low expectations.

As Cyngwulf pointed out, cool season crops are difficult in hot/dry springs. I'm already changing my garden plans to ditch some cool season leafy/root things and plant more onions. They enjoy the low humidity, as long as they are well irrigated.

Keep a garden journal, it will help you immensely in figuring out and remembering what works.

As far as ornamentals, the two times in my gardening life I moved to a very different area, I kept a note book organized by month of what I saw that I liked to get a good idea of what would possibly grow and be attractive to me.

I'm outside of Lubbock a little way (Crosby Co.) and above the Caprock, with a fairly heavy clay loam soil over limestone-like caliche, so not much help on the ornamentals.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 11:00PM
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bettydee(z7b westTX)

Lower panhandle, south of Lubbock checking in here.

My best advice, is "embrace the dry heat." Though I would love to have a lush cottage style garden with both veggies and flowers, it probably won't happen here. Some things I have grown successfully in the past are black eye peas, okra, several varieties of summer squash, tomatoes and peppers. Those are my staples, and I usually add to the list each year.

I haven't had very good luck with corn. I find it needs too much water and worms love it, no matter what I do. If I plant a fall garden, that's when I plant spinach, lettuce, and most other green leafy veggies. I can't ever seem to get my spinach planted early enough in the spring without it bolting in the heat.

And as other have said, forget last year. Horrible year; worst drought on record. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 7:04AM
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Thank you all for your input it really helps to hear from people who have done this.

@wantonamara I am going to use a fence/wall on the north east and west sides for wind protection and to keep out pests,2 and 4 legged. There is a 200' barn on south side.

@ plainsman
I also decided to scale my garden down slightly here because I have found some land and may put the bulk of my garden over there later and in the fall.

@bettydee You are surely right about corn. noone grows it around here and the ones that do usually lose it. I am going to try the popcorn for the neighbor kids and hope for the best. but I will be prepared with a bag of popcorn just in case ...
Hopefully today the tiller and I will get it done!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 8:19AM
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mesquiteent(z6b WestTX)

I am starting my first Amarillo garden after moving back here several years ago. The only other place I have gardened was in the Midland/Abilene area, so I am trying to figure out what won't survive the cold here. It's not as hot and dry here, but definitely colder and windier. I have been busy tearing out weeds and dead grass so I can plant lots of perennials (mostly native and adaptable). We're going to try veggies in raised beds and grow bags, too.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Hi all. I have been lurking in spurts trying to gather info quickly so I could get back outside. My garden is coming along beautifully. Beets, peas, radish, lettuce, chard, collards, carrots are doing relly well. Fence made out of pallets is doing great as a wind break along the west end. So far no 4 legged critters but an occasional flip flop print in the radishes.
I have several different types of shade loving plants growing and am anxiously awaiting the opening of the nursery in Canyon.
@mesquiteent Welcome back to the panhandle.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 7:40PM
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gmatx zone 6

@Luvncannin - Are you talking about the Prairie Edge nursery? That is the only one I know of that we still have here.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 8:24PM
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I guess so. It was suggested to me by another poster but I dont remeber the name. I even looked at the website once... i am off to find that post...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 7:37PM
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greybird(z7 TX)

I am not actually in the panhandle, but close enough and have panhandle weather. The challenge is the eternal dry wind, cold winter coupled with hot summers, plus the unpredictable rain. Finding plants that are hardy that can take the heat/wind without dehydrating is a trial and error thing.

You need:
---windbreaks-buildings, hedges, fences, etc.
---shadecloth protection from the sun (at least last summer!)
---heavy mulch
---don't plant for western exposure
---don't plant annual flowers unless you are planning on watering a lot. even then they are iffy.
---There are many perennial flowers and herbs that are wonderful here. If you are interested in a list, just ask.

The worst possible case scenario is western wind-swept exposure with too much shade. I have this in my front yard and after 15 years have given up trying. Only yaupons can hang.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 5:49PM
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I think, being new to the forum, that I'm off-topic and I apologize if that is the case. I'm interested in growing turnips but I know nothing about them. Can anyone help?
I've gardened in the area for many years and yes it's a tough place to grow a good garden in and to do it consistently. Peppers and cucumbers work best for me. I have to cage everything with a 2"x4" welded wire cage and wrap a cat food bag or window screen wire around it to keep the critters out and buffer against the wind. I'm very exposed with full sun and no wind breaks, 20 miles west of Plainview.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 2:10PM
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Oh boy! Full sun, no wind breaks, and 20 miles west of Plainview...

You might try the vegetable forum, or the Oklahoma or New Mexico or Colorado forum, or ask your turnip question as new thread here. (There are very good vegetable gardeners on the vegetable and Oklahoma forums at the very least, and there have to be others here and on the other forums.) Me, I'm sorry to say I don't know nothin' 'bout turnips, except think they are a winter/fall crop and you probably need to get the seeds sprouted/in ground as soon as possible to get at least turnip leaves before it should get really cold? They are heavy feeders, too, aren't they, if you want turnips rather than leaves? Have you found the aggie tamu website about growing vegetables? That might be a good place to start.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:26AM
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I garden in similar conditions-full sun, no windbreaks, and 45 miles southeast of Plainview. Turnips are the easiest fall crop for me. I like to plant right about now, the third week of August. After the first week of September, the season gets too short for the best yield. Although turnip seed will germinate in relatively hot soil, I water the bed, cover with cardboard for a week or so to cool the soil and then plant. I keep some kind of structure ready to shade the soil after planting during the germination, emergence, and seedling stage, if it's hot and dry and windy. My biggest problem with turnips was finding varieties that were useful in the kitchen. The Asian turnips are far milder and more palatable to my wife and I than the white/purple top American turnips. These include the white ones such as Oasis and Tokyo Market and the red ones such as Scarlet Ohno. The white ones seem to by shy producers of greens for me, but the red ones produce an abundant, tasty and showy crop of greens.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 4:37PM
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