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New to Texas gardening

Posted by aaf_479 8 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 17, 14 at 4:02

Hello,
We are a military family and are new to the area. I am in San Antonio and I would appreciate ANY tips anyone has for vegetable gardening in this region. I love growing my own veggies. I have been gardeining for about 7 yrs now, but only in Maryland and Northern New York. ANYTHING will be helpful no matter how common sense it may seem. I have heard that there are 2 plantng seasons (early spring and fall) and that some plants just will not produce in the summer (ie: tomatoes). Again, any pearls of wisdom and tidbits would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New to Texas gardening

HI, welcome to our fair state.
It is a little late right now to start anything for summer with the exception of cow peas and okra. Tomatoes can go in starting in July, So it is not long. Fall is a big time for growing and you will love winter gardening. One puts in the fall garden in the heat of august. Deemcrazy , an act of faith in that dreaded dry heat but then the summer breaks just a little and the land wakes up . It is time now to prep your spot for a fall garden. Get a soil test and do some amendments
and get dirty. I use a frost cover for the bad cold fronts and it is a breeze. I have vegetables all through the winter. It is my biggest and easiest time to garden. That will seem weird to you but Winter gardening is the best.

We have a great plant swap in the Fall in San antonio so keep your eyes pom the exchanges section. You will see an announcement.

You know, I better keep my mouth shut because SAN AN has different dates than Austin where I am.

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Here is a link that might be useful: Plant schedule


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Thank you!! I appreciate any and all tips. I just found out that a local nursery is having a "class" about insects on the 28th and I am definately going!!!


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RE: New to Texas gardening

OK GUYS, all of you San antonians ,….I know you are out there. Chime in with the best nurseries and what they are good at. Where to go for bulk soil etc.

Get your soil tested because soil anywhere near the hill country can change in 10 ', if you are lucky to have soil.. If you have no soil bring it in or garden in pots and learn how to compost if you don't know it already. See if you have caliche or red death clay.

Can you describe the soil you have and what your plans are? Is their vegetable,annuals, perennials. You mentioned military. How long do you expect to be here. We are better at suggestions if we know what the problem and parameters are.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Welcome!
As stated above, soil is a big deal here. When I lived up North ;), soil and water were plentiful. In Texas, you will be constantly addressing both issues. Now is a great time to prep your garden area with soil/compost and thinking about how you want to water (irrigation, drip, soaker hoses, by hand). You'll also need to be aware if you are under any watering restrictions and what those entail.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

If you go the soil testing route the Texas Plant and Soil Labs is the way to go. The preeminent nurseries in San Antonio are Rainbow Gardens, The Garden Center, Schultz', Shades of Green and of course Fanicks. If you need garden soil, compost, soil additives or mulch there's Gardenville in North and Northeast San Antonio. If you're on the Western side of SA then there's Fertile Gardens Supply or Burning Bush. They deliver too. If you want to learn more about gardening, then tune into 550 KTSA saturday and sunday mornings for Gardening w/ Bob Webster (co-owner of Shades of Green).


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I live in the stone oak area and have been to the rainbow gardens on Thousand Oaks dr. And that is a really good nursery for fruit trees and herbs they have good vegetables but only some of them are worth it. Milberger's nursery is another good nursery. In my mind milbergers is more of a landscape company though. Iv heard that franicks nursery is good too but have not been to it yet. If you want to grow fruit trees from cuttings walk around your neighborhood and look because most people here grow fig trees, loquat trees, citrus trees, and peach trees as bushes in the yards.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

This is all great advice and I can't thank you all enough. I really enjoy growing my own vegetables and fruit trees would be great if I weren't moving in 3-5 yrs. I suppose I could get some trees that were a few yrs old (the potted varieties) and then give them away on here when we move. The soil here in the NE (windcrest area) looks to be like dusty sand. I plan on building raised beds. I will definately be looking into having soil delivered. I have always wanted to learn to compost... As we have almost always lived in military housing I haven't been able to compost. VERY tiny yards. Not enough room for a garden, a compost bin or pile AND the dogs. Now that we are NOT on base I guess this is a good time. :-) I like growing the basics; Lettuce, tomatoes, beans, Cucumbers on a trellis, Squash, Peppers, Garlic, & Onions. I also like to grow my own herbs. This is a rental, so if I plant any flowers they will have to be perennials and they will have to be something that will survive after I leave with little to no care from the next tenants. Some previous tenants let 2 trees that the owner planted die.
I am really enjoying all the help from everyone. Cannot wait to check out the other nurseries and the show on Saturday and Sunday. I hear there is going to be a "class" on June 28th at Rainbow Gardens about insects. I will be there. Anything else you think of would be GREAT. Thank you!


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Welcome to Texas!

All good advice from everyone. Have you dug in the soil in your yard? I know there's sandy areas around SA, but I've seen it more in the SE area. But I've never lived in that part of town. Most places have this stuff that sounds lovely call caliche. When I tried digging in in I called it a lot of other names most of them not printable. Pure rock. Raised beds are definitely the way to go if you're going to be here 3-5 years.

I'm a northern transplant too- two things that were hard for me to wrap my head around when I moved to the area were the suggested planting times (very different) and how dry the summers can be. I still remember the first summer - 64 days straight with no measurable rainfall. I had plants in pots on a patio in an apartment. I didn't know which one was going to dry up and blow away first - me or them :-) This year hasn't been so bad- we've have a lot more rain than recently, but my guess is that overall it's still less than you're used to. The Fanick nursery website has a good suggested planting time reference page for vegetables. It not only gives good date ranges, but also gives you an idea what works well in the area.

The nurseries in SA IMO don't have the greatest veggie selection for transplants. But especially for winter gardening you can get away with a good bit of direct seeding. I think Rainbow Gardens usually has a decent seed selection, but shop a little early - once they're out they don't reorder (or I miss it if they do).

I second the KTSA Bob Welch program. Another SA specific site online is plantanswers.com. Mostly articles by Jerry Parsons and Calvin Finch- names that come up alot if you go to gardening classes that ran in the SA newspaper (maybe they still do- I don't get the paper anymore). But there's a fair amount of vegetable articles that give some solid advice. I still go back and look there if I'm trying out something new to me to get their thoughts.

Have a blast. You'll really enjoy digging in the dirt if you haven't been able to do it for a while. And post questions - lots of very smart people hang around here.

One last thought- Texas is big. I'm sure you figured that out by now :-) What works in the next city over doesn't always work here for a variety of reasons. So when you're reading be mindful of where the gardener does their gardening. It can make a big difference.

Good luck- Lisa


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Since soil and such has already been covered, I will try and give you a few varieties that do well in Texas...

MED/L fruited tomatoes: Celebrity is the best for our conditions, and Arkansas traveler (heirloom) is also great. We are growing both of these right now and once again they are giving us pounds every day. The celebrities are also great for fall b/c the give all their fruit at once.

SMALL FRUITED: We prefer growing cherries. Two GREAT varieties are: Sun Sugar, an orange tomato that bursts with flavor, and Super Sweet 100, a tasty one that gives TONS of little cherries.

BEANS: Contender and blue lake for bush, Kentucky Wonder for pole. All are great choices for TX.

PEPPERS: Big Bertha bell and any hot pepper varieties are our favorites for yield in the hot summer.

CUCUMBERS: As for these, we haven't grown them a lot, but Straight Eight is what's in the ground right now and they are doing great.

Really hope these recomendations give you some insight and help you make decisions!


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RE: New to Texas gardening

You read my mind. I was just going to ask about varieties that do well and what people like. Also, my area is under a water restriction. Being that I am from the north eastern part of the country I don't think I have ever dealt with this. What is the best way to water with such restrictions? I know that for lawns we are only supposed to hand water unless it is our designated day of the week. (yes, this is a whole new experience for me.)


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I like Sun gold for a heat resistant prolific gold cherry tomato. It produces through the summer. So did my Julien, a oblong smallish tomato. I have had good luck with orange jubilee.. I like Yard long beans and rattlesnake beans. I grow Cream peas and eat them as green beans in the pod.You could plant them now.. I have been growing Suyo Long Cucumbers and I find the really resistant to heat and the cucumbers are LONG and really tasty. I think they are from vietnam. Trombetta di Albegna ( Italian summer squash) is delicious and a huge vining squash.

Even in a raised bed I have been using keyhole gardening to keep the water by the plants roots,especially in summer. I make earthen rows BUT I plant in the troth. I use cardboard as mulch . I pick it up from the recycling place. Some people use Olas to deliver water in garden. They also make olas out of old clay pots glued together.

About compost. Humus breaks down quicker in the hot long summers, so you need to use more of it more often than up north.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Lots of hand watering if you grow vegetables here. The upside is gives you plenty of time to look for critters and harvest while you're out there :-) Drip irrigation helps because it delivers water to the individual plants. But I don't know how much you want to invest if you're here for a short time.

Lisa


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RE: New to Texas gardening

If you will be planting squash, Keep them under the light row cover to keep the squash vine borer off till they start to flower then uncover and keep your eyes peeled . OR be the one who is the fertilizer with the brush and keep the plants covered.. I am taking a break from squash because I had such an infestation of the other squash bugs last year. I keep a tub out there with soapy water as my mass grave for unwanted critters.

fall gardens often get flea beetles. So be prepared with your soapy water.

I fertilize my cukes by breaking off a male flower and ripping its petals off and twisting them in the female flower. OOPS better go and do it now. BYE.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I too am new to Texas gardening, and I am learning something new almost every day. We are retired and have lived here, south of SA (Floresville) for 10 years, and until last summer I didn't get too serious about gardening because everything I tried failed. I did most of my gardening way up north in Vermont... there is no comparison for anything that is related to gardening between here and there. So I'm starting almost from square one.

Last summer we constructed our first raised bed. I have many more now. All of our raised beds have hardware cloth on the bottom because moles and/or gophers can be a problem. All of my soil has been brought in because we only have sand here. The majority of my raised beds are inside an 8 foot high fence to keep the deer out. We are in a subdivision, but deer are plentiful. Right now grasshoppers are my biggest headache. There is always a challenge to overcome, but I am determined to make it happen.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Someone told me that Floresville was one of the better places in Texas to BE a gardener.

Vermont , eh…. Then you must love the winter gardening.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I must not be in the right part of Floresville. We are in the sand hills here. I'm thinking anyone who is semi-successful here must be a native that learned long ago how to make it work. There is no time of year here that relates to anything I learned about gardening in Vermont... and that was more than 20 years ago.
I have no wish to be a gardener in Vermont again, I think the opportunities for gardening can be awesome here... once you learn how to do it the "right" way, and I surely have a long way to go to get there. One step at a time.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I guess you need to add a bunch of compost and some silt and clay. I am not a good soil builder. I did pick up a pamphlet on the subject at my not so local feed store (Calahan's by the Austin Airport). Maybe I will crack it if I can find it and see what they say about sand and report back since there are two with sand here..

I was googling soil in Floresville (in all my spare time watching stain dry) and came up with this scientific jargon. I find some of it interesting. I don't know if it is helpful or a mouthful of nonsense.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dirt on Floresville dirt


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I did some reading up on the SVB. Either where I was up north (darn near Canada) was too cold for them to have large numbers, or I was just lucky. I didn't have a problem with them or flea beetles either for that matter. New topic for the seaarch list!! Cut worms however, desimated almost an entire crop one yr. I use "crop" because they hit everything I was growing. I found a tip to cut up a few potatoes and bury the potato on skewers and it attracts the lil buggers. Then every day you dig it up and throw them in a trash bag and put a new potato. It actually worked. And as a bonus, I forgot one and it grew more potatoes.
Grandmasal: I hear you!! This is a WHOLE new experience. I currently have 1 raised bed. I planted a bunch of tomatos before I found out that it was too late in the season to plant them. They are 4 ft tall and beautiful with NO tomatoes... SO, since July is the next season I guess I will have to plant new ones? I don't know! That was what prompted me to get on here and get advice. Which, again, has been SO much help and I can't thank everyone enough. Keep em comin' if you have any more!!!!!
I am still looking to have soil delivered, but does anyone have any input on Miracle grow garden soil and how it preforms here in TX? Opinions and experiences are welcome. My neighbor has a bunch of extra bags and offered them to me. Up north I used to mix my own soil. (had a FANTASTIC supplier and a composting friend) I saw a broken bag at one of the big box stores and it had what looked like an orange and white moldy substance on the soil itself.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Perhaps if you tried shade cloth on your tomatoes, you might still get them to fruit.

Also, in August, you can try pruning them to about 1/3 and you'll get tomatoes in the fall (although usually not as much).


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I agree with southofsa,
Hand watering does help you know what is going on in your garden more than automated watering. I find that watering in the evening is much better than in the morning, because it heats up so quick early in the day that the water isn't used by the plants as efficiently as it should be used. This will really help you conserve water. I am under the water restrictions as well.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Some people take a tomato cutting and root it for a fall plant. One could do that now or soon. I am feeling an early winter so I might jump the gun on some of my fall stuff like cukes and green beans. In the fall we can do the french fillet beans because they like the cooler weather better then our very hot summers... Watch out for lettuce though. The stores will start selling them early and the heat will Make them bolt early. Start some seed for the swap. There is a bunch of vegetable seedling swapping there.. I hope to see you at the San Antonio swap.

Off topic. I just heard of a spanish bean called a corona bean that is supposed to be to die for. Huge bean and creamy. It grows in Italy and Spain so maybe it could do our summers. I am looking for it now as an experiment. I am always game for something new.

The purple Flower ID thread his a Flame flower that LOVES sandy soils. I thought you might like to know about it.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Mara- I had a dish they called pork and beans at a restaurant a while back and the beans were ah-mazing. I asked them what they were called and they said corona beans. If it's the same ones they're well worth growing IMO. Huge and creamy just like you described.

Lisa


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Hey wantonamara, when is the San Antonio swap?


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Thanks everyone!! This is great. I am happy and surprised to report that I actually have a few tomatoes on my beefsteaks, the solar fire and the supersweet cherry.... I was pleasantly surprised to see them. I have been hand watering as we haven't had time to set up any type of irrigation and you all recommended hand watering. I hope they stay. I have noticed some dropped blossoms. I expected that as I planted so late. I unfortunately also found that I seem to have a pill bug problem. I will be applying Diatomatious earth this evening as they have started eating the lower leaves.
I am REALLY interested in the corona beans. If anyone comes accross a source please let me know.

On another note: This is my first time on a forum and I truly truly appreciate all the input and help. It is really nice to get tips on what works and what doesn't from people who have the experience. Gardening has always been a trial and error process for me because I haven't known too many people who find gardening as rewarding (and money saving) as I do. It might be because of the military's perpetual movement that people don't see it as worth the effort..... or like me, wouldn't know where to start in a new area. With this forum I am learning so much that would have taken me a long time to figure out on my own. So keep em coming!! Again, Thank you all so much!!!


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I am interested in them too. I was googling around for them and could not find any seed source BUT I found some at $4 a lb. or so at Purcell farms for food. I am worried that they were not left on the plant long enough to make seed, but I think that I might try them. I will not need a whole lb.

Here is a link that might be useful: Source for beans


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RE: New to Texas gardening

AND here is growing info on them

Here is a link that might be useful: Corona bean info


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Mara- I think italianbeanandseed.com has corona seeds- look under the pole bean section. But make sure you're sitting down when you look at the price.

Tyler- the swap is October 18.

Aaf- if you can grow beefsteaks down here you'll do just fine. The tomatoes start dropping blossoms when the night time temps stay warm. I'm not surprised you're starting to see some.

Lisa


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RE: New to Texas gardening

I went looking for Italianbeanandseed.com and it does not pull a site up. Oh well.

AAF, I just want to mention that for a first summer, you are lucking out. This is a mild and gentle summer, so far. They are not all like this. This is a rare one. SOOOOO cool and humid.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Mara- sorry I gave you the wrong website. Try this one
http://www.italianseedandtool.com

Lisa


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RE: New to Texas gardening

@ wantonamara: I KNOW!!!!!! I can't believe it. I was here for training for the Army back in 2001 throughout the summer months. I remember being out in formation at 4am and it was already 80+ degrees trying to breath during physical training. I have been trying to keep that in mind everytime I go out the door. We just came from WAY upstate NY near Canada and although it reaches the mid 90's with horrible humidity it is maybe a few days or weeks out of the yr. I am thankful for the mildness while I try to re acclimate to Texas.
This week, I am putting up another raised bed in preparation of the fall planting. This has a duel function. Home grown food and to keep the dog on the other side of the fence from breaking any more fence slats trying to get at my dog. He literally grabs the warped board and breaks it in half. It is an older fence, but WOW! My dog is partially to blame. She doesn't get it. She thinks they are playing. She races back and forth along the fence tongue hanging out and happy. The dog on the other side of the fence means business. I've been considereing spraying (at least MY side) with an animal deterrent spray. Any other ideas?


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RE: New to Texas gardening

New problem. I have been watching this beautiful solar fire tomato waiting for it to be ready. It WOULD have been ready tomorrow-ish if SOMETHING hadn't eaten half of it overnight. Literally OVERNIGHT!!!!!! I cannot believe it!! Any ideas? I put down diatomaceous earth because of the pill bugs so I don't think iit is slugs oor snails. What else likes ripe tomatoes down here and what can I do about it.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

D@MN! ! Birds. I use a net over the tomatoes. AND I usually pick them right before they are totally ripe and let them ripen inside.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Off to lowes for netting STAT! LOL. Thanks wantonamara.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Hey everybody,thanks to member Christine, I was directed here. Am new to forum and a year transplant to Houston. I want to create 4 container gardens. One to grow herbs, one to grow vegetables, one to grow melons and one to be a bumble bee, butterfly and humming bird garden. Any and all suggestions welcome. Tell me what NOT to plant and waste my time with, and tell me what thrives in this climate. I am used to SoCal climate for 20 years, and am sort of lost when it comes to Houston friendly foliage. If it helps, I live in the Copperfield region.


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Hi Marcus, Welcome to Texas. Don't take this wrong please, I suggest that you start your own thread . It keeps things less confusing and more people will check you out and react to You. It is simpler and clearer that way . You can introduce yourself and things can be more oriented to you.

I am not from Houston so I am not much help. It is colder and dryer and hotter here but a lot less hummid less humid. Are you in gumbo or sand. I would check out the Harris County Agri-life site. I use the Travis county schedule.This will at least get you on the timing of your fall and winter Garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harris county planting schedule


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RE: New to Texas gardening

Thanks. Will do.


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re: save water, divert shower/bath water

  • Posted by ju1234 (8 Dallas TX) (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 19:53

I am right now working on diverting bath water to garden. If you have pier/beam foundation or upper floor bathroom, it is easy. there is plenty info on line about how to.

Mine is slab foundation so i am working on setting up a pump system. As soon as I have that done I will start a new thread here on the details.


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