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New to OK gardening

Posted by waldosgone 7a (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 9:29

Hi all!

I've been reading the forums since we first moved to OKC after three years on the Florida Gulf Coast and four years in Alaska. We've literally gardened in "polar" opposites with a growing season that was 10 months long with little care to a growing season that was 3 months long (but 24 hours a day).

We just moved to OKC and the first thing I built for the backyard was 3x 10x4 raised cedar garden beds. I built them with loops on the inside with the intent of putting either sun cloth or netting over them for protection. Now we're planning our first OK garden and here's what we're thinking so far (some based on suggestions from this board):
Tomatos
Black Cherry
Rutgers Tomato
Opalka Tomato
Sioux Tomato

Peppers
Jalapeno
Emerald Giant
Golden Marconi
Italian Pepperocini

In the Ground
Garlic
Carrots
Onions
Radishes
Beets

Leaf
Lettuce
Swiss Chard

Snap Peas
Bush beans
Cucumbers

Some sort of pumpkin/gourd as we've never had luck with them before.

What I'm looking for after searching is what are some varieties of the above that do well in OK and OKC specifically. Thanks for all the advice so far and if you have any advice on flowers the landscaping here needs some help!

Thanks,

Jim and Katie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to OK gardening

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 10:22

Hey Jim and Katie

Welcome. I still learning from the wonderful people here so I dont have much to say on the varieties. I typically try and grow what is recommend from other here and occasionally sprinkle in something not so recommended just for the fun.

Oklahoma can be very challenging for us to grow in. You know right now our highs should be closer to the 50's but as you can see its not even close. That plus late freezes, strong winds. drought and brutally hot summers can be enough to make you scream. It can be done though.

good luck and listen to these folks here. A lot of knowledge around this forum.
Also there are tons of Fact sheet put out by Oklahoma state University on all types of recommendations for our state. There is one in particular on planting date for veggies but I want to link you to the whole list so you can see what all is available.

Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: OSU fact sheets


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RE: New to OK gardening

waldoisgone, welcome to the forum. Last year was my first year to try pumpkins and winter squash (other than butternut). With the help of the people on this forum I had pretty good luck. I planted butternut, Seminole pumpkin, old timey corn field pumpkin, and another one I just call Brazilian butternut because I cant remember the name. I will say that they are all space hogs. The Waltham butternut was the one that was gone first. It seemed that most people did not know what the others were so they did not take them. They all kept very well, and unless you want a lot of them don't plant many seeds.

I will show you what they look like and if you would like and I should be able to come up with some seed if you want any.

Larry

 photo 001_zpsfcf3634a.jpg


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RE: New to OK gardening

Hi Jim and Katie, Welcome to the OK Forum and welcome to Oklahoma too. With your vast gardening experience at polar opposites, you should be well-prepared for Oklahoma....except for this......some years we have winter weather and summer weather all in the same week! I wish I was kidding......(grin).

Your raised beds sound terrific and you may find that you want to use either netting or a lightweight row cover to exclude some insects earlier in the season and then, depending on the crop, you might switch to shade cloth later in the season. A lot depends on what sort of summer weather you have in a given year. Some years I don't use shade cloth at all, but we haven't had a cooler, more pleasant summer since 2010, so in recent years, I generally put shade cloth up over the pepper plants and some of the tomato plants in July and leave it there until about mid- to late-August, depending on when the temperatures start to drop. I don't think I used shade cloth at all in 2001, 2004, 2007 or 2010, so based on that, I shouldn't have to use it about 1 year out of every 3. Last year should have been that good year but, alas, it was not. Maybe this year will be the good year, but it seems more likely we'll have to wait until 2015 for a shade-cloth-free-year.

Pretty much any Jalapeno pepper you select to grow will perform very well here. We just happen to have the sort of weather the jalapenos like so I tend to select jalapeno varieties based on their DTMs or the heat levels. We like our jalapenos on the hotter side, so I usually grow Chichimeca, Mucho Nacho, Early Jalapeno, Purple Jalapeno, Ixtapa, Grande, Gigante, Mammoth and Biker Billy. If you like the flavor of jalapenos but don't like a lot of heat, then TAM Mild is a really mild one, and Jalapeno M is not as hot as the ones I listed above. Keep in mind the fact that hotter, drier summers give you hot peppers with hotter-than-usual flavor, so in some hot, dry years, the hotter types of jalapenos are almost unbearably hot. To some extent, you can manipulate your hot peppers by keeping them a bit on the dry side, which will stress them and cause them to be hotter than they otherwise will be.

Normally we plant garlic in the fall here and harvest it in very late spring or early summer when the foliage yellows and dies back. I've never planted a single variety of garlic that didn't grow well here, unless the ground was perpetually wet and flooded, so you can choose your garlic variety based on the flavor. I have 6 or 8 varieties growing now, including Music, German Red, Russian Red, Purple Glazer, California Late White, and Purple Italian. I've even planted cloves from grocery store bulbs and they've grown and produced just fine, though I think their flavor is more bland that the varieties I grew from purchased garlic seed stock.

Carrots are pretty easy to grow and I don't know that I'd say one variety grows better than another. YaYa and Napoli are a couple of our favorites, and I like the short ones like Short 'N Sweet because they produce pretty early. I also like to buy a packet of the Bupee Blend on seed racks in the stores that have a mix of orange, yellow, purple, red and maybe white carrots. With carrots, the earlier we can get them planted, sprouted and growing the better so that they can finish up before the weather gets insanely hot.

Onions: Many, many varieties perform well here as long as you start out with purchased bundles of plants, which generally appear in the stores here in January or which can be ordered from an onion supplier like Dixondale Farms. If you buy the little hard bulb-like sets that come packaged in cellophane bags, more often than not those are long-day onion types that never bulb up here. Both short-day and intermediate day-length onions will grow well there for you in central OK. I generally grow Texas 1015Y (also known as Texas Supersweet), Candy, Superstar, and for a red one, either Red Candy Apple, Creole, Burgundy Red
or Southern Belle.

This year I am growing Tx 1015Y, Super Star, Candy, Red Candy Apple, Red Creole, Texas Early White, HIghlander, and Red River. I haven't grown Red RIver or Highlander before, but the others have been in my regular growing rotation for a long time or, if they are newer varieties, I've grown them ever since they hit the market. I probably could be pretty happy if all I grew was 1015Y and Candy, but I like having a nice variety of onions to choose from because I do a lot of canning and use a lot of onions.

Radishes are simple and any variety you plant will do well here. You can succession plant some radish seed every week to have fresh radishes over a long period of time. In addition to the standard salad-type radishes, I like to grow rat-tailed radishes, both for their seed pods (you stir fry them) and for their flowers. They are a great companion plant for squash, so I usually plant them on all 4 sides of my squash patch as a sort of border to attract beneficial insects that help control squash pests.

Beets--I think with these you just pick the ones you like to eat. If there is a beet variety that doesn't grow well here, I haven't found it. I particularly like Chioggia and Golden Beets.

Lettuce can be tricky if the weather is uncooperative. Often it gets so hot so early that many varieties will bolt. I usually sow lettuce seed in February and in most years we still are harvesting lettuce when June arrives. It will eventually bolt, but I tend to plant mine where it gets morning sun and then is in shade beginning around noon, and I think that helps keep it from bolting quite as early. Last year we still had lettuce until early July because it was growing in partial shade. In full sun, it sometimes bolts as early as late May.

Lettuce varieties I generally grow include: Drunken Woman, Jericho, Nevada, Sea of Red, New Red Fire, Salad Bowl, Oakleaf, Australian Yellow Leaf, Anuenue, Ben Shemen and Black-Seeded Simpson. I also often sow a couple of different kinds of mesclun mix so we have an endless variety of greens. This year I am growing most of the above and also added some mixed lettuce packets from Renee's Garden Seeds, including Stardom Mix, which has an emerald green butterhead and a deep burgundy butterhead, Ruby and Emerald Duet (a green butterhead and a red crispy mini leaf lettuce). Often (but not always since the weather can be so variable) the last lettuces to bolt in my garden are Anuenue, Ben Shemen and Australian Yellow Leaf. In the winter months, I sometimes grow some other winter lettuce varieties, but those are solely for winter because they bolt very early in spring.

Snap Peas normally do really well here as long as we don't have abnormally hot weather incredibly early. My favorites are Sugar Snap and Super Sugar Snap. This year I added Snappy and I'm also growing Cascadia. Some years I add some color with Spring Blush, which produces snap peas with a pinkish color to the pods, and Opal Creek Yellow, but I didn't plant either of those two this year.

Bush Beans are a particular favorite of mine and I consider it a lackluster year if I grow less than 8 or 10 different varieties of them. You cannot go wrong with Provider and Contender. Others that generally join those two on my grow list include Tanya's Pink Pod, Red Swan, Purple Queen, Capitano, Royal Burgundy, Purpiat, Soleil, Velour, and Maxibel. Some years I add both Marconi and Rocquencout from Franchi-Simenti Seeds (growitalian.com).

With cucumbers, I mostly grow them for pickling and just choose pickling types which also are pretty good for fresh eating. I grow County Fair every year because it is the most disease-tolerant and pest-resistant variety I've ever found. Some years either disease or cucumber beetles get the other varieties, but I don't think I've ever lost the County Fair crop to either one. I also like to grow Sumter and Eureka, and this year I'm trying Endeavor. I like the old heirloom types like Lemon Cucumber and Boston Pickling too, and always grow Armenian Cucumbers, which actually are melons that can be harvested and eaten as cucumbers while young. I grow both the solid light green Armenian cukes and the green striped ones. They are very heat-tolerant and drought-tolerant and pest resistant. Sometimes in a wet year the Armenian cukes seem prone to cucumber mosaic virus. I am about 100 or 110 miles south of OKC so wet years are fairly rare for me--y'all usually have better moisture than I do during the growing season, though sometimes my rainfall is heavy enough in late autumn and early winter that we catch up with y'all on year-to-date rainfall, albeit not until the growing season is over. Last year was one of the best cucumber years I've had in ages here. Even the pickling cukes produced until late in August despite a pronounced lack of rainfall, and the Armenians produced until frost got them. I was out harvesting the last ones just a few hours before that first freezing night.

Pumpkins, which technically are winter squash, can be tricky here but it just depends on how long you can keep the winter squash hidden from the squash vine borers. We moved here in 1999 and, technically, I planted my first garden here in 1998 while the house was being built, and I was able to grow any and every kind of pumpkin and winter squash I wanted until about 2007 or 2008, which is when the squash vine borers really and truly found us and became a permanent problem. Well, I shouldn't say permanent. I didn't have any SVBs in at least 1 year, and possibly 2 years, since 2007. After the Squash Vine Borers arrived, I gradually gave up growing the pumpkins and winter squash that are in the C. pepo and C. maxima groups and just focused on growing the ones that are C. moschata. The C. moschata types have solid rather than hollow stems, which is why the squash vine borers seldom bother them. Dropping the C. pepo and C. maxima types just about killed me, because before the SVBs found us, I'd grow up to 30 varieties a year. Since, then, I grow maybe a maximum of 6-8 kinds of winter squash/pumpkins in a given year, and some years I only grow 2 or 3 kinds.

The best one for this area (you cannot kill it and neither can anything else and it won't die until it freezes) is Seminole Pumpkin. It produces smallish, buff-colored winter squash in great profusion despite the onslaught of pests, heat, drought, etc. They are very hard-shelled (we joke that it takes a chainsaw to cut them open but that's a bit of an exaggeration) and I have had them last up to 18 months in storage. Their flavor and texture are superb. Other winter squash that we generally grow include Waltham butternut, Long Island Cheese, Cornfield Pumpkin, Lungo di Napoli (Long of Napoli)), and Musquee de Provence. If you want to try a C. pepo , you could try Spaghetti Squash, Howden, Winter Luxury Pie, Small Sugar Pie or Bush Delicata. In the C. maxima group, my faves are Galeux d'Eysines, Red Kuri. Rouge Vif d'Etampes, and Cinderella.

If you want to grow ornamental pumpkins, both Baby Boo and Jack-B-Little produce small ornamental pumpkins on vines that easily climb a trellis or fence. In the last year in which we did not have SVBs, I grew both Goosebumps and Knucklehead, which are warted pumpkins that make great jack-o-lanterns. I've grown them 3 or 4 times, but the SVBs get them most years. Seminole, by the way, should you choose to grow it is an incredibly vigorous grower so it can be hard to contain it. I generally plant it near a fence (my deer fences are at least 8' tall and even taller in some places because of the slope of our land) and it will run 30' or more along the fenceline. If tree are nearby, it will climb right up into them and I don't mind that because the trees are on the north side of the garden.

Gourds are simple to grow here. You wait until the soil is really warm and direct-sow the seeds, and they will grow like crazy. I always grow birdhouse gourds here, and usually one of the blends of ornamental warted gourds. Some years I grow bushel gourds and luffas. The sky is the limit here, but they need a long growing season and they can take over a small garden. I plant them where they can climb the garden fences constructed to keep the abundant deer herd here out of the garden. Two of my favorite ornamental gourd mixes are Gremlins and Lunch Ladies.

What kind of flowers are you interested in growing? Perennials? Annuals? Also, is your soil sandy loam or does it tend to be more clayey? Do you know the pH of your soil?Many, many kinds of flowers grow well here, but it is easier for us to suggest the types for you that would do best for you if we know what sort of soil you have.

Dawn


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RE: New to OK gardening

I know more about flowers than veggies :) What kind of flowers do you like and what are your sun/shade conditions?


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RE: New to OK gardening

Welcome to Oklahoma, Waldos!


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RE: New to OK gardening

Dawn - Thanks so much for the information; I've already pasted it into a Word document for reference later. I think we're going to start with your "if I could only grow this one or these two" recommendations and branch out from there.

As far as flowers go what I've gathered by reading these boards:

Angel's Trumpet
Choclate Morning Glory
Rudbeckia aka Green Wizard
Moonflower Vine
Lions Tail
Damianita
Spanish Broom
Perennial Snakeweed
Desert Spoon
Flameflower
Desert Marigold

Our soil is "clayey" and it hasn't been kept up with; pH balance is unknown however we were planning on adding a layer of garden top soil in the semi raised stone beds we built. Part of my plan for this spring is to try to get the backyard back up to par including these new planters.

Our house faces north with the backyard surrounded by an 8 foot privacy fence and two gigantic pecan trees (we gathered about 50 pounds shelled this fall). The lower part of the yard catches full morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon. The front yard is pretty much all sun near the street but we're less inclined to start working out there unless it's a quick spruce up. Right now there is a bit of ornamental grass and some low evergreen bushes but not much else. I'll try to take some pictures this weekend to show you what I mean.

My wife has put in a request for summer squash or zucchini. Any thoughts?


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RE: New to OK gardening

My wife loves the color yellow and I love blue and other than that we really don't have any preferences. I grew up as the muscle for my dad's vision and we've lived in places where we couldn't do much "landscaping" because we were renters so I haven't done much "design" or thought.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Welcome to OK Gardening, Jim & Kate! You are about to experience darn near every possible challenge with growing! Just look at it as a "well rounded view"!

As far as Wife's request for yellow squash and zuchinni - there's a plethora at your local box store as far as seeds. Some of us save seeds and grow our own preference but you just can't go wrong with what the box stores offer there. They can also be good fill-in's for front flower beds so don't feel confined. These things I've learned. It's called "edible landscaping". heh!

Other than that - "grow what you like to eat". And be sure to post some pics of the land. We've got flower/landscape peeps here too that can lend some recommendations.


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RE: New to OK gardening

I recommend zucchetta squash. Pinetree -- Zucchetta

Full morning sun and partial afternoon sun is pretty ideal for almost anything that might be called "full sun". Below is a link to one of my photo albums. It should give you some idea of different things I grow. Off the top of my head, I would immediately recommend Autumn Sage (salvia), purple coneflower (echinacea), daylilies, iris, "annual" blue salvias, peonies, let me restate that, PEONIES!!! :) (one of my favorites!), and there are soooo many more!

.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yard Shots Album


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RE: New to OK gardening

What part of Oklahoma are you in? Anywhere close to OKC? If so, you are welcome to come stroll through my garden. I'm not a great landscaper :), but I have a variety of things.

Here is a link that might be useful: Here's more photos


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RE: New to OK gardening

Eh, I got nuthin'. (I just about said something stupid, but...this time I stopped myself.)

Plans...plans...if you've gardened before, you don't need much advice about plans.

Keep it simple and keep it easy to maintain. If you put it in the front yard, lemme know. I've got a few ideas I haven't used, yet. (See pic of our front yard. Taken two weeks ago.)

The good news (here in Southern Oklahoma's zone 7), is that you can be planting and/or harvesting nine or ten months of the year, if you think it all out, first. The other two or three months, you've got some veggies in the ground and planted, just waiting for warmer weather. Forget about most of those semi-tropical plants, unless you like to drag pots in and out of the house...

Keep an eye on the fire ants and consider your fight with the Bermuda as the cost of doing business. It's just another weed...

Good luck! ...and don't let nuthin' get ya down.

Warren


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RE: New to OK gardening

I haven't grown Seminole, but if I wanted to try another variety of winter squash, that would be the one I'd try. I grow Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin, an heirloom from NC. It is WONDERFUL for this climate... tough as nails and super prolific. Some people might balk at 20 lb (average) fruit. But I cut them in half and bake them, scooping the flesh into 2-3 cup servings and freezing them in zip lock bags. The fruit do last a good long time on the shelf, providing they don't get frozen. If you'd like to try Old Timey Cornfield Pumpkin, contact me and I'll send you some seed in exchange for postage.

Dawn, would you refresh our memories on optimal planting times for beets and carrots? I have yet, in 7 years to get a good crop of these. Last year my carrots looked great, before the grasshoppers killed them.

I like your tomato selection. Looks dependable and tasty.

I also like to grow some habanero type of pepper, which always seems to do well here. Last year I grew Ajï Yellow #2, which is a new favorite: not as hot as a true habanero, but with the same great flavor.

George
Tahlequah, OK

Jim and Katie, welcome to our gardening community!


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RE: New to OK gardening

Some updates. Used cardboard from Christmas packages, wife's work at Starbucks, and the recycle bin behind Kirklands, with permission, to use as weed paper. Wish I had done this under the gravel instead of paying for weed paper… live and learn.


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RE: New to OK gardening

I cheated and bought a couple tons of garden ready from Minnick Materials.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Before row covers.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Working before the hail storm/cold front.


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RE: New to OK gardening

During the hail storm


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RE: New to OK gardening

Purple Peppers. These were from starters purchased from TLC and the other two beds were all from seed.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Several different tomatoes from Dawn's recommendations. Again they were started from TLC.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Most recent project; I installed gutters on our 16x18 garage/workshop and piped it all to two 275 gallon IBC totes. This was finished just in time before the rain storm this week. With 1.5'' of rain where I live I figure I collected 275 gallons of water to water the garden. As it's all gravity fed I may have to install a small solar pump but that's a project for another day. Next up will be a drip irrigation system.

The final product has a "first flush" system which is basically 2x 5 foot sections of 4'' PVC that allows all the crud on the roof (dust, debris, etc…) to be collected there and not end up in the diverter tanks. This is non potable water but I wanted it to not clog future drip irrigation systems. And I could boil and drink it in a pinch….


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RE: New to OK gardening

Warren - we're looking to "rehab" our front yard completely. The wife would like to fill in the "half moon" between our driveway with plants and take out the grass. We've got an interesting problem. On the left side of the photo (beside the porch) is in deep shad the entire day. We like the tree so it's not an option to cut it as it shades the part of the house where we spend the most time. It's pretty eroded and I'm thinking I'll need to bring in railroad ties or pavers to build it up to retain dirt so it doesn't end up in my neighbors yard. Additionally, the line of plants along the porch were put in by the previous owner prior to the sale of the house. They're all dead or slowly dying due to that being in shade until about 3 PM. And then the half moons. Those are the sahara…. no shade, little water.

Thoughts?


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RE: New to OK gardening

Jim, everything is looking amazing! This is only my second veggie year, first flower year so I dont have much experience to offer but I just planted my first shade bed with coleus, sweet potato vines, caladiums, impatiens, and various hastas. It is full shade, zero sun so ill keep you posted on how well everything does if you'd like.
Alexis


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RE: New to OK gardening

I'm only on my second year of gardening here, but for front yard flowers I would definitely suggest planting some Iris varieties come fall. My father in law breeds iris and has about 200 varieties in his back yard. Every fall he is always trying to give us the left-overs from the annual iris societies bulb sale. They always seem to do great in anything from semi shade to full sun. I'm not sure what it is about Iris but they seem to almost enjoy the abusive Oklahoma weather. You'll enjoy the great foliage all year and if you get a few different varieties you can enjoy blooms from late march to mid may.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents. I've been here for 16 years now, and I have observations that may help.
1) COMPOST, and LOTS of it!
2) MULCH and LOTS of it!
3) Nothing grows the same every year, so diversify......plant a few varieties of the same thing.


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RE: New to OK gardening

Alexis,

I'd love to hear how your shade garden is going. The left side of our house also gets ZERO sunlight from the porch back. I think it may be "phase 2" for that side as it will involve building a stone retaining wall and bringing in a couple (~ 10 tons) of dirt to establish anything. There hasn't been anything planted there, including grass, in about 7-9 years as far as I can tell by looking at pictures on the county assessors website.

Jim


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RE: New to OK gardening

All,

Couple of observations on my first year of Oklahoma gardening:

1. My watermelon and cukes were growing like gang busters but two, two week vacations out of town may have toasted them. The watermelons have stalled out and haven't grown any larger than softballs. The cukes started out great and then 1/4 of the small cuke ballooned up but the rest stayed small and then turned yellow. They're looking pretty sad so I may pull them and try again.

2. Sweet potato vine grows like CRAZY in our front yard. I just mow it down as it enters the grass.

3. Our raspberries are growing great but have only produced TWO raspberries. I wonder if they'll produce better in year two.

4. Our pepper plants have stayed fairly small, leading to sunburn, and most of the peppers have been composted. The exceptions are the jalapeños and "Big Jim."

5. Our tomatoes, the cherry size, are producing well and just keep getting larger. We planted some yellow tomatoes that we weren't impressed with but have come back and I just picked 5.

6. The drip irrigation system I tried to install in the garden boxes is more trouble than it's worth. I may just go to full size drip hose, which we used in the front yard under the mulch, and seems to be working much better. I'll need a pump to increase the pressure from the 550 gallon water catchers which have stayed full all year. The pump would also allow me to use a sprinkler to water the back yard.

7. We're going to add the shade garden, and replant the backyard grass (half bermuda in the sun, and fescue in the shade) this fall. I'd really like to plant some more crepe myrtle and Oklahoma rosebuds as well but we'll see.

Alexis, how is your shade garden working?


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