Control Group Update

Back in August I decided to put my money where my mouth is. I went on and on about how easy it was to grow cowpeas before I realized some of my friends weren’t going to be planting them in fluffy, fortified, store-bought soil protectively cradled in pots. I did a little guerrilla gardening and jammed a few seeds along the back fence. It was not without its drawbacks, but I had some success.

Greens and Things!

Looking at the fall planting guide provided by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service, it looks like its time to get working on some greens and things. The okra and the peppers and beans are all doing so well right now that I kind of forgot about getting these cool season greens in. I know what I’m doing this weekend! Break out your seed packets or run to the garden store with me, it’s plantin’ time!

  • chard-115336_1280Chard: a beet relative, chard is basically the greens part of the beet without the big root part. Why grow these? Besides being a nutritional powerhouse, it is a hardy leaf green. It takes the heat and cold better than kale or spinach. Some of the recommended varieties for south central Texas are Bright Lights, Fordhook Giant, Lucullus, and Ruby. I planted Bright Lights in the spring and let a couple of the plants stand through summer. They, survived the heat, and seem to have renewed vigor with this nice, fall weather. Either way, I’m planting some more. They are not only tasty, they are beautiful! Not sure how to use this delicious superfood? Try this simple and delicious recipe. Also, just toss ’em in a salad!
  • Collards: a non-heading cousin to cabbage and broccoli, collards are high in fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties. I’ve not grown these, yet, but I’m going to give it a try this fall. My September planted broccoli is doing okay, but the cabbage just won’t take. Hopefully, collards will fair better. Recommended varieties for south central Texas are Blue Max, Champion, and Vates. Want to try a classic southern collards recipe?
  • bears-garlic-474316_1280Garlic: Oh! I’ve so wanted to try planting garlic in my little container garden, but it’s just one of those things where I have to weigh garden space and time-to-harvest considerations. Rumor is, you won’t recognize the deliciousness of garlic grown in your garden as compared to store-bought. Recommended varieties for Texas include soft-necked types like California Early, Lorz Italian, Texas White and Mexican Pink. Oh, and get a move on! Apparently, garlic is popular and quite in demand. Order early from online stores and keep a close eye on delivery dates for your local garden center.
  • salad-621339_1280Lettuce: I never really gave lettuce much thought until I grew some myself. It was just something that added a little crunch to sandwiches and burgers. I know better now. I’ve grown a couple of different types of lettuce, some Romaine-types and butterheads, greens and reds. Besides being crisp and delicious and being comforted by the fact that they’ve never seen pesitcide, I like just being able to run out and snap off a few leaves and leave the rest safely on the plant. I don’t ever have to throw out lettuce because I couldn’t eat it fast enough. Not to mention, they’re pretty easy to grow. Some varieties to try include Buttercrunch, Black-seeded Simpson, red and green Oakleaf, and Parris Island. For containers, try Little Gem. They are tiny and sweet and delicious!
  • parsley-476872_1280Parsley: This is great to have around if you’re a fan of tabbouleh. If you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat! It’s yummy and good for you, too. Recommended varieties for our neck of the woods include Banquet, Italian Dark Green, Moss Curled and Plain Italian. Some say the flat types have better flavor, but I think the curly are prettier and give texture to a dish.

I’ll fill you in on any planting that goes on this weekend. Let me know now things are going with your garden in the comments section.

My dearest…

IMG_0348Dear tiny seed,

I’m so glad you’re here! I pored over seed catalogs all winter searching for just “the one.” I did some online research with the local extension service, borrowed a couple of texts from the library, and googled you, just for good measure. I looked into companion plants and searched for the best sized container for you. I’m getting some special seed starting soil just to make sure you’re comfortable during your first days and have picked out a nice, sunny spot for you to stretch your legs. I’m looking forward to our time together.

-Eager gardener

plant-7407_1280Dear tiny seedling,

I can’t believe you and your brothers made it, you beautiful little sun worshippers! Yes, I know those clippers are getting a bit close, but you don’t all fit. You want your own room, don’t you? The sun’s a little too warm? Let me move you. The shade’s a bit too cool? How about over here? You don’t want to spend the night outside? Come sleep in the window. I can’t wait until you’re a little older!

-Hopeful gardener

IMG_20150809_082328_hdrDear growing plant,

Well, look at you! All grown up and looking fine. You’ve got great color, strong growth… just look at those lovely leaves! Don’t mind the compost tea bath. It’s to keep pests at bay. What pests, you ask? Hopefully, you will never know. These are things your mother gardener worries about. Just keep doing your thing.

-Happy gardener

Who knew okra was so pretty?
Who knew okra was so pretty?

Dear flowering plant,

You are looking lovely today. Those flowers are simply radiant! Whoops… you lost one, or two. I must retreat to the interwebs. Just stay calm, I will be back shortly.

-Panicked gardener

Mini bells!
Mini bells!

Dear fruiting plant,

I’m so proud of you! Look at those gorgeous tiny fruit. Well done, plant… well done! So, uh, how long do ya think before those ripen up? Just curious.

-Hungry gardener

“Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit

He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Week

As some of you may have surmised, I am taking an online course to improve my writing and blogging skills. In other words, I’m doing my best not to bore ya’ll to death. Not much work going on in the garden right now as I am resisting the urge to expand, but who knows what will happen come payday? I did get a chance to take a couple of photos of the garden’s goings-on and maybe I’ll get a chance to get my hands back in the dirt this weekend.



By Marcie Hans

Fueled by million man-made wings of fire
the rocket tore a tunnel through the sky
and everybody cheered.
only by a thought from God –
the seedling
urged its way
through the thickness of black –
and as it pierced
the heavy ceiling of the soil –
and launched itself
up into outer space –

Garden Treasures

X marks the spot when looking for buried treasure.

Tiny cabbage treasures.

When in the garden, tiny seedlings mark the spot. That spot where I planted a little, dry seed, and watered the brown earth that covers it. That spot that represents an exercise in trust, in hope, and sometimes… futility. My neighbors watch as I water a container full of soil. “What’s that?” they’ll ask. I proudly announce, “This is cherry tomatoes, and over here, these are beans!” We stare at the pot full of soil with a little popsicle stick garden marker denoting the plant variety and sow date. My neighbor smiles… and leaves.

I, on the other hand, remain. There are tiny treasures just beneath the soil. Some will emerge, some will not. Some will surpass even my imagination of what they could be, or become.