How the heck do you grow vegetables in TX

jenica(7B)September 11, 2012

I moved to TX, specifically the DFW area, from TN last year and this is my first year trying to grow vegetables here. Man oh man what a dismal harvest so far. I am far from an inexperienced gardener and have had wonderfully productive gardens in TN and NJ. The only thing that I think I'll be able to call a success this year is my green bell peppers. The plants are super healthy and now that it is cooling off they are starting to set fruit. The tomatoes are flowering profusely but giving me a pitiful harvest. I'm guessing I need a better variety there. The cucumbers seemed to have been attacked by a virus since they turned yellow and then died.

So what tips would you give a new Texas vegetable gardener? What are your favorite vegetable varieties? What pests and viruses should I be on the lookout for? Are there certain things that are just not worth the trouble or other things that are super easy? Any other tips or tricks that make it easier to grow vegetables successfully here?

Thanks in advance for any help.

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I have about the same luck as you, Jenica, can't seem to do well with any of the vegetables.

Now my son, on the other hand, gets great results. He has raised beds with good soil, and grows just about anything he wants, gets bumper crops! Don't know if this is the difference or not, but seems to work for him.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:57PM
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local master gardeners, they will help you with crops for your area, when to plant, what to plant. bout the only thing grows in summer here is okra, watermelon and okra. I just put in tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and this week they have started growing. Time to put in radishes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. for fall. Mulch, compost, mulch, compost, mulch, compost....
Welcome to Texas!

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:45PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have raised beds also.....(easier to water, weed and harvest) and my Spring tomatoes are now producing for Fall.
This was one of the best tomato years I have had in several. I am now harvesting peppers....bell, jalapeno and a pickling variety, okra, black-eyed peas and a few tomatoes (they will be a little slower in ripening than earlier). I can tell you that some years are good for some crops, others not so good. You just have to do a trial and error method to see which ones grow best for you.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:56PM
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There are pretty much 2 growing seasons here, the spring and fall. In the heat of the summer I have not had a lot of luck except with peppers and okra, and even they slow down production in late July/Aug. But now is a good time to plant. You can typically count on no frost until mid-November, or sometimes early December if lucky. I started lettuce, cabbage and beans a few weeks ago. My pumpkins that I started in July are now starting to show more female flowers and the vine are huge. Now if I can keep the squash vine borers at bay, I may have a decent harvest.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:56AM
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I don't really try much anymore. I concentrate on flowers for the hummers and butterflies.

Every year I start out with some tomatoes. They survive & look horrible by July. I don't get much harvest from them until fall. I think I won't do the spring tomatoes anymore.. for the amount of room they take up I think next year I'll wait and plant late summer/fall plants instead.

This spring I planted lots of swiss chard. They did and continue to do great! I have had huge harvests from those plants and they're still going. I'm so glad I tried them. We eat it raw in salads and we eat a lot of salad around here.
I just started seeds of the red kind and some spinach. They should do well over the winter, and the original swiss chard should keep going too.

I purchased some Japanese eggplant on a lark.. They did great. My biggest problem was harvesting before they got over ripe. I did have to cover them with netting to keep the birds and squirrels off them. I will plant more next year.

I've given up on squash and cucs... I just don't have it in me to battle the bugs. I'd rather just go buy them.

I hope you find a way to have the vegetable garden you want.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:19AM
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I had a miserable summer with the whole cucurbit family: cucumbers, zucchini, butternut, canteloupe all being hit by the mosaic virus and powdery mildew. Last month I re-planted zucchinis and cucumbers that are resistant to both diseases and they're doing fantastic. I used Dunja zucchini, Alibi and Bush slicer cucumbers. I'm in the Houston area.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 6:33PM
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Lynn Marie

This was the first year I planted eggplant and it did wonderfully! Only problem is, I don't like eggplant. Tomatoes are very difficult to grow here, but I can't seem to give up. Purple hull peas have done well two years in a row. Carrots do well, but you can't harvest them when it is hot; they'll taste like soap. Basil does well here. Onions do all right for me. And you already know about bell peppers.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Carrie, what kind of soil do you use in your raised beds?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:37PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

It is a mixture of Dyno-dirt from Denton county, a little sand and donkey manure. We mulch the top each winter with the manure so it will be ready to turn in the spring.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Granted I got a late start, but not a good harvest. The carrots are still pencil sized, tomato production was lame and flavorless (probably too much water).
So do you pull the determinant tomatoes and start over in Aug? The two season thing is new to me.
The infestations seem to be non-stop too.
Army cutworms, then tomato hornworms, then spider mites, then leaf miners, then gulf fruitilary cats. Did I mention the coons that ate what few tomatoes I had?
The one thing that seems to be fairly immune is the asparagus and peppers (even the peppers were attacked). Luckily the coons gave up on vegetables after a stalk or two.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 9:04AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am in Austin and I LOVE my winter garden. So easy and the drop cloth and thick mulch fends off the frost where I am and I have great results. NO BUGS!!!!!! great greens. It is a time of plenty. You might have to do a double layer of frost covers for the bad cold snaps in Dallas.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 3:39PM
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My japanese eggplant did fabulous this year. I've had to eat eggplant each week and still give them away, because I've been getting 4-5 a week! They didn't start fruiting till it got hot. Peppers is another thing that did really well. Both of these are in the ground.

In pots, spring onion has done wonderfully. I had a small batch of tomatoes but then they died, but the leaves are coming back again in the fall (Very strange).

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 4:27PM
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You are right about that eggplant! It grows like a weed here. I hate the stuff.

Planted cauliflower, onions, radishes, cabbage and carrots this week. The tomatoes put in a couple of weeks ago have started blooming. Peppers, in pots on the deck, are showing a resurgence in growth and are blooming.
THICK layer of mulch applied to the beds, soaker hose and frequent watering. Not possible last year because of the drought, I just let the bed go last year and over the summer.
Tally Ho!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Time for root plants, lettuce Herbs and cole plants as well as lots of greens. If nothing else mustard greens make your soil better for your spring plantings

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 8:30PM
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You might enjoy my video blog on this very subject.

Here is a link that might be useful: DFW Gardener

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Nice videos when theydidn't make me sea-sick, you need a steady cam.

Your tomatoes look like mine LOL, I'd feel sorry for you but I've used it all up on self-pity.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 3:47AM
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Yeah, I'm using the first flip camera, which is on it's last legs anyway. I'd like a steady cam feature, as well as better up close focus.

Money's a little tight, but we'll see.

Here is a link that might be useful: DFW Gardener

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 1:35PM
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