March 2014 Gardening Tips for the Backyard Gardener

Spring is just around the corner! Most of our cool-season vegetables are still going strong and enjoying the colder weather. For any more freezing that we might have, 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 February, root crops including turnips, carrots, beets and radishes can be planted.

Take advantage of the remaining dormant season to plant fruit trees, roses, shrubs and ornamental trees. Trees are our best landscape investment. Large trees for shade include live oak, and burr oak. Small flowering trees for our shed include redbud, settle gem magnolias, and crape myrtles.

Fruit trees for our area include persimmons, pears, plums, and peaches. Blueberries (for acid soil areas) blackberries and grapes can also be set out now.

Perennials to set out include phlox and oxeye daisies, daylilies and bearded irises. Echinaceas (purple coneflowers) are now available in colors, including pink, white, peach and yellow. Turks cap hibiscus is available in traditional red, but also in pink and white. Columbines like Henkley yellow brighten partially shaded areas and return each year.

Petunias, pansies, calendulas, hollyhock, snapdragons and sweet alyssum are among the good choices for annuals to set out at this time. Sunny well drained locations are best.

Ornamental grasses add movement and texture to the garden. Good possibilities include gulf coast muhly grass, foundation, and bluestem and Mexican feather grass.

Prepare for spring by cleaning birdhouses and birdbaths, clean and sharpen hoes, shovels and pruning shears. It is also time to service mowers, edgers, and weed eaters as well. Also now would be a great time to clean those beds and mulch, mulch, mulch!

Happy Gardening!

February/March 2014 Newsletter

Once again, another year of gardening officially ends and a new one begins. As we welcome the New Year 2014, winter brings us brisk mornings and soon enough spring will be among us and the promise of bountiful blooms lie ahead of us. As always, Linda and her landscaping team are hard at work preparing for the spring season.

Down at Bluebonnet Herb Farms, we have expanded our Antiques and Uniques section of the shop, exciting new treasures decorate the halls. We also now offer a banquet hall that’s been completely refurbished and beautifully decorated. Our space will be great for hosting your special event birthday, book club, retirement party, and any other event. We are also planning on bringing back educational and interactive classes as the year progresses.

Bees, Honey, & Benefits

As a gardener I’ve always appreciated to gentle flutter of butterflies or the special appearance of hummingbirds, however bees aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. That being said bees have a great importance in our gardens and our ecosystem as a whole. By holding back our instinctive reaction to swat at them we should really be doing the reverse and try to attract them to our gardens and reap the rewards of having an abundance of bees.

One of the greatest rewards of having bees as a mainstay in our gardens is that they are natural pollinators. With more pollination, you will yield more crop from a vegetable garden and more flowers in your flower garden. Another benefit of having or aiding bees in their journey back to the hive is for that liquid gold that they make. Both honey and bees wax have amazing properties that just can’t be reproduced by man and that alone is one of the main reasons bees are truly a treasure.

Basic Principals for attracting Bees to your Garden

  • Be willing to have some plant damage
  • Choose a pest management regime that does not include pesticides
  • Opt out on the bug zapper. If you have one, these generally kill more beneficial bugs than actual pests
  • Provide water source a small dish of water with some sand and pebbles so the bees do not drown preferably by flowering plants
  • Provide a diverse variety of blooming plants throughout the seasons for the long haul

Oh, HONEY! How sweet it is?

Honey has a long history of human consumption and is used in various foods and beverages as a sweetener. Honey is also used to treat many different ailments such as promoting a rejuvenating sleep. Strengthening those weakened by illness or stress, replenishing energy, enhancing physical stamina, soothe a cough and is also used to treat minor skin wounds and chapped lips.

When buying honey it is always best to read the label. Now days nothing is as it seems to be. Raw honey is the best kind of honey you could get. But why? Raw honey is honey fresh from the comb. It’s not pasteurized and it still contains the healthy enzymes that enable its medicinal properties.

It is said that store-bought pasteurized honey is no better than white sugar not to mention some of these retailed honeys actually water down their product or are artificially flavored. The heat from pasteurization kills the beneficial enzymes making them useless to the body. One thing to also keep in mind is raw honey does have variations in color, taste, and texture. This is because some species of bees only pollinate certain flowers, and also what sources of nectar producing flowers were available to the bees. Monofloral honey is made from the nectar of one type of flower. To produce monofloral honey, beekeepers keep beehives in an area where the bees have access to only one type of flower. Some examples of monofloral honeys are clover, orange blossom, blueberry, sage, buckwheat, mesquite and many more.

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!

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!

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 🙂