August 2013 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

For most of us summer is a second dormant season, or at least most of us want it to be one. In August the true gardeners are most evident. Even in the heat of August there is still much to be done. Okra, southern peas, sweet potatoes, peppers, and melons can all be planted. Just keep them watered and they will thrive. If you want to have a fall tomato and pepper crop now is the time to get plants into the ground.

August is a good time to prep your gardens for fall planting. Weeding, mulching, trimming back trees and shrubs, deadheading and removing spent blooms and plowing are all things you can do at this time. August brings more fall planting into the garden, summer squash, cucumbers, green beans, can all be planted now for a fall harvest. Also seeds of cole crops (broccoli, kohlrabi, and cabbage) can all be started indoors. As mentioned in our March/April newsletter now is a good time to sow your bluebonnet seeds for spring color.

As you already know watering and keeping your garden hydrated is top priority at this time of year. Be sure to saturate the soil thoroughly so the roots will not be drawn near the surface of the ground. It’s also important not to overwater especially in the heat of the day, doing so might cause your plant(s) to yellow and possibly die.

In September check the acidity of your soil and mulch your azaleas. Chrysanthemums should be given a commercial liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks until buds appear, then weekly until buds show color. For large flowers, leave the center bud in each cluster and pinch off all lateral buds before they begin stemming. Fertilize beds if needed.

Herbs that can be planted include: chives, coriander, dill, garlic, lovage, and winter savory. September is a good time to prepare your vegetable garden. 1 part soil, 1 part sand, 1 part pine bark mulch or moistened peat moss approximately 12-18 inches is a good soil for beets, carrots, onions and turnips.

August/September 2013 Newsletter

Beat the HeatSummer is among us once again and so are those lazy dog days, and we have been blessed with some rain and a few little breaks from the intense summer heat.

Surprisingly we are still in full swing around these parts. We are still getting regular exciting new items in our antique and unique shop. We have also received an order of gift items and home accents and are looking forward to introducing some new product in the near future.

The Landscaping crew is working round the clock keeping everyone’s beds weed free, lawns mowed, and giving all of our clients a beautiful yard to relax in after a hard days work. Be sure to check in with is us often; you never know at your next visit you might find the treasure you’ve been waiting for.
Until next time, Happy Gardening!

Bluebonnets Forever

Each year sometime around January or February, the same question begins to form on every Texan’s lips as sightings of bluebonnet seedlings begin to appear, when will the bluebonnets bloom? Bluebonnets are as free-willed and independent as the people who love them.  Though it’s easy to say that between March and April is when bluebonnets raise their little violet-blue heads to salute the sky above.   Bluebonnets are not only our state flower; they are a symbol of the Texas Sprit.  Leave it to a Texan to write songs about them, Sprinkle bluebonnet seeds along every Texas highway and bluebonnet trail, have festivals that showcase them, designate entire cities to bluebonnets.   Yes there is no doubt that both the Texas bluebonnet and Texans alike to do things in such a rebellious way.

Many gardeners have either mastered the art of growing bluebonnets and others well I’m sure could use a few pointers

Basic Principles for Planting and Growing Bluebonnets

  • Plant in full sun, in soil which drains well and doesn’t stay wet for long periods of time.
  • Barely cover seeds with soil, don’t bury the crown of transplants
  • Water seeds only on the day of planting and transplants only when the top one inch of soil dries
  • No applications of fertilizer are required but are helpful and will cause more abundant bloom
  • The best time to plant seed is in August or when already established bluebonnets go to seed

For those that have had trouble growing bluebonnets are those who simply try too hard by overwatering and not choosing a location that meets then needs of bluebonnets.  Over the years I’ve heard my fair share of interesting bluebonnet facts.  Did you know that there are five different varieties that grow in the state of Texas, they include:

Lupinus texensis – grows in central Texas, has blue flowers with bits of white and occasionally has a tinge of pink, has 5-7 leaflets and grows 20-40cm tall   *only grows in Texas* Is the easiest variety to grow and is the same variety that the state distributes along Texas highways.

Lupinus havardii – aka Big Bend Bluebonnet can reach up to 4ft tall and has approx. 7 leaflets its bluish/purplish in color with a white tip

Lupinus subcarnosus – aka Buffalo clover or the sandyland bluebonnet grows in the sandy, rolling hills of coastal and southern Texas with sheets of royal-blue in the early spring *only grows in Texas*

Lupinus plattensis – is the only perennial species in the state and grows to about two feet tall. It normally blooms in mid to late spring and is also known as the dune bluebonnet, the plains bluebonnet and the Nebraska Lupine

Lupinus concinnus – is an inconspicuous variety of bluebonnet, growing from 2 to 7 inches, with flowers which combine elements of white, rosy purple and lavender. Commonly known as the annual lupine, it is found sparingly in the Trans-Pecos region, blooming in early spring.

March 2013 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

Yes, spring is knocking on our door and I can’t wait to be back in the garden tilling, fertilizing, planting and weeding.  A garden is becoming a necessity, especially with the price of food and fuel.  March is when most of the Gulf Coast area begins planting corn, beans squash, cucumbers and peas.  Eggplant, pepper, and tomato plants can be put out now also.  Though is quite unlikely, keep an eye open for an unexpected frost and cover to protect your new transplants.

As April kicks the growing season into high gear.  All kinds of melons can be planted now.  Pumpkins, zucchini, black eyes, limas can all be put in.  In late April, okra and sweet potatoes can be planted.  If you would like your okra seeds to germinate faster, pour hot water over the seeds and let them sit overnight in the water.  The next day, they will be ready to plant.

March is the time to plant some color.  Before the heat sets in, lobelia, petunias, coreopsis, cosmos, zinnias and many more plants can be put in beds, containers and hanging baskets.  A few weeks after you have put in your flowering plants, give them a little boost with a 3-1-2 or a 4-1-2 ratio fertilizer.  With the warmer temperatures of April, you can plant vinca, caladiums, pentas, impatiens, and celosia.  Be sure to mulch your beds about 4 or 5 inches deep.  This will make weeding a lot less time consuming and it will save you money on your water bill.  If you find that you have extra seed, place in an envelope, then put the envelope in a glass jar with lid and store in the freezer.

March will bring on a beautiful array of color if you have azaleas, spirea, camellias, redbud, dogwood, mock orange or spring blooming roses.  Sometime in April though, the blooms will be fading and when they are finished with their performance, it will be time to trim any unsightly shoots or branches.  Try not to cut them back hard, just what is necessary, then you can fertilize them. Container grown roses can be planted and enjoyed now too.  

When March approaches, the fruit trees will begin to bloom and what a wonderful scent they have.  Mulching them out to the drip line will help keep more water for the trees and less for the weeds.  I hope your garden and beds are a great success this spring.  Until next time.  Happy Gardening!

Herb of the Month “Parsley”

Flat-leafed parsleyWhat I look like- parsley is a bright green, hairless herb with either flat or curly leaves (depending on the variety) and has tiny yellowish green flowers that eventually produce seed.

How I Grow-Parsley grows best in moist, well drained soil, with full sun.. Parsley can reach up to 12-18 inches in height and 9-12inches wide.

How parsley can benefit your garden- For those of you trying to achieve the ultimate butterfly garden, Parsley is a must have.  Some swallowtail butterflies use parsley as a host plant for their larvae; their caterpillars are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feed on parsley for two weeks before turning into butterflies.  Bees and other nectar-feeding insects may also visit the flowers.  Birds such as the goldfinch feed on the seeds.

What I’m used for- Parsley has many medicinal and culinary uses.  Medicinally Parsley is used as a diuretic that purifies the blood and aids in digestion and metabolism.  Parsley can also over time if consumed on a regular basis lower blood pressure.

Parsley and its culinary uses has slowly become more of an underappreciated herb since it is most often used as a garnish.  Though it is a favorite in Italian cuisine, used in soups, breads, pastas, and on many meats, you can add parsley to most dish that you want a more savory flavor to.

Availabity: Very Easy to find

Savory Herb Spread

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. small capers, rinsed and drained
  • 6 gherkins or 1 regular-size pickle, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup I Can’t believe its Not Butter! Spread
  1. Combine all ingredients except I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Spread in medium bowl.
  2. Combine mixture with Spread in medium bowl. Serve, if desired, with grilled bread or use as a dressing on any sandwich. Try a spoonful on top of grilled fish, roasted chicken or a bowl of pasta just before serving.   Enjoy!

March/April 2013 Newsletter

Spring is among us once again, and we have been blessed with some rain every thing will be bursting in bloom in no time. Bluebonnets make their debut throughout March and April, roadsides and pastures will soon be transformed into beautiful blue seas of bluebonnets.

This is a favorite time of year for us at Bluebonnet Herb Farms. Shipments of seeds, herbs, annuals; perennials of all colors are always a pleasing sight for us and our customers. We are always getting in new and interesting finds in our antique shop. To make your shopping experience even more enjoyable, we hope to bring you new garden accents and maybe even some jewelry very soon.

January 2013 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

Yes, winter is officially here! Most of our cool-season vegetables are still going strong and enjoying the colder weather. Freezing weather means that we have to make sure we have spare sheets or commercial insulated blankets on hand and ready for freezing nights to protect those lesser cold hardy, tender plants.

In January, root crops including turnips, carrots, beets and radishes can be planted. Be sure to harvest broccoli heads after they reach full size but right before they bloom. Greens can also be harvested by removing the entire plant or just by picking the leaves.

In other areas of your garden, that aren’t in production, now would be a good time to clean and mulch to fend off winter weeds and to get a head start on having ready to plant beds once spring arrives. Having a good layer of mulch in all your beds, both decorative and vegetable throughout January and February will help discourage winter weeds and protect roots in freezing weather.

Now that most perennials are dormant, it is safe to begin pruning them. It will help get some of the dead foliage out of the beds and neaten things up. Do not wait to prune the spring blooming plants, since they will begin budding soon. Summer flowering shrubs such as vitex, abelia, althea, buddleia, crapemyrtle, and repeat-blooming roses may be pruned in February. You can even begin pruning your roses in January. Be sure to cut out any canes growing to the inside of the plant. Roses need good air circulation and this helps.

Pansies and violas are some of our most dependable annuals for the cool season color. Other cool season color plants include alyssum, dianthus, calendula, snapdragon, ornamental cabbage, foxglove, delphinium and ornamental kale. Wildflower seeds can be thrown out too.

This is the time of year to plant and prune your fruit trees. If you have scale infestation, use a dormant oil on them and spray all sides of the branches. Do not spray after they bud since the oil will burn the new growth. It is also important to clean any old, rotten or diseased fruit from the ground or branches.

Don’t forget to mulch, mulch, mulch. HAPPY GARDENING 🙂

January/February 2013 Newsletter

Once again, another year of gardening officially ends and a new one begins. As we welcome the New Year 2013, winter brings us brisk mornings and the promise of much needed rain. Our plants will get a well deserved rest, because this is the dormant season. A time when gardeners can reflect on their gardens success and possible changes they might want to make. We are also making some changes. We have made the decision to be closed on Mondays. Everyone needs time to rest. As we announced in the last newsletter, we now have a uniques and antiques area that is really fun to check out. New items are being brought in regularly. We hope to see you soon.

We will begin receiving our vegetable, herb and flower seeds in February for all of those who enjoy starting their plants from seed. Fresh shipments of herbs and vegetable plants will arrive soon after. Now is a great time to begin preparing your garden by cleaning them and working in compost and manure. Leaves are generally very plentiful in the fall and are a great way to mulch your beds; recycled organic matter is a great compost that’s FREE. Rotating your crops will help your productivity and also aid in preventing disease.