I love the gourd article! So many unusual gourds. Good luck!
Thanks Sally. You are a true masters of horticulture.
I am thinking of planting a crepe myrtle on the side of my house that will hopefully grow to shade my only western-facing window. The summer sun gets so hot on that side.
I have a few questions for you…. Would a crepe myrtle be a good choice for my purposes? If so, which variety? Are some colors more hearty than others? Is this the best time of year to plant a young tree? Could you provide specifics on planting; such as depth, stabilization, soil additives, frequency of watering, and care through the winter?
Your blog is always interesting & informative. Congratulations on your new site: Masters of Horticulture. Keep up the good work, Yupneck. We amateur gardeners need your knowledge, humor, and plain-spoken advice! Best of luck to you now and in the future.
What a well written comment. Especially the part about how good my blog is!
First, now is the best time to plant ALL trees. So go get you a crepe myrtle. When selecting a crepe myrtle there are two things to consider: color and height. Some crepe myrtles can grow to 30 or 40 feet so be aware of it’s growth habit. My absolute favorite crepe myrtle is Bashum’s Party Pink. It is one of the earlier varieties that was created by a true master of horticulture right in your home town (Houston). It is a lovely pink and it grows rapidly upto about 15′. After that it slows down but it can reach 20′ to 30 ‘ in 10 years. Any crepe myrtle that has an indian name (Kiowa, Souix, Cherokee, Arapaho, etc.) are all excellent choices for our area.
Planting is easy. Dig a hole one and a half times the width of the pot. Make the hole deep enoug that about three fourths of the root ball goes in (this is called “planting high”). Back fill 1/3 of the dirt and water. Then another third and water. Finally top off with the remaining soil. Keep soil away from the base of the shrub. Now water gently. Once palnted, water two to three times a week for the first month. Then cut back to twice a week until spring. By spring their roots should be established. Continue to water until runoff about every fifth day and then just wait for the blooms!
Jay, I am a 4-H Specialist with the Texas 4-H Program and have read your article in the September 2011 HortUpdate. I was very impressed with it and would like to know if we can run it in our monthly 4-H Newsletter. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Tomato Clubs this year, I think our 4-H families would be impressed to read about the history you have written about it. If you are ok with me running it, please just let me know.
Sure, I would love for you to run it. If you run it I would appreciate you putting a link to the blog in the credits. Is the newsletter electronic? I would love to see the article after it comes out.
I just read the article about antique roses, as I am a lover of roses when I lived in Ohio I had a number of roses that were very beautiful, however since we moved to the Austin area I haven’t had much luck with them. I read your article on antique roses and would like to know where I can buy them here. If you know of any places I would appreciate your letting me know.
The Antique Rose Emporium has a location in San Antonio. It is a beautiful place and the people there are very knowledgeable. In my opinion, it would be worth your time to drive down and visit with them. I do not know any source in the Austin area. However, there is a blogger there named Caroline whose blog is called “The Shovel Ready Garden”. She has several antique roses in her Austin yard. Here is a link to a very recent post about her roses: http://shovelreadygarden.blogspot.com/2012/03/roses-on-parade.html
Why don’t you read that article and ask her where she got hers? She is very nice and I am sure she would be willing to share her source. Good luck!
I’m wondering where can I Buy compost by the truck load. I live south of Houston outside of Rosenberg. Do you know where a good place is?
I don’t know a specific person but call dirt contractors, landscape supply shops or the landfill. Surely one of those places will have bulk compost for sale.
I appreciate good positive articles like the ones I see here. I do however have a nagging question. In many gardening articles it is mentioned that one should put compost on everything in everything etc. I have been doing that to my garden for years and have lately been getting weird results.
Last year we sent a soil sample to TA&M and got the result back which confounded me. My nitrogen is 3 times the maximum preferred percentage and the P and K were slightly above preferred.
Now I have two plant species which seem to do just fine with those numbers. Okra and Jalapeno peppers. My tomatoes grow 8 feet tall and if they make blossoms few are pollinated and of those few develop into maters. My try at sweet corn a couple of years ago was one for the books. The corn stalks looked like Sudan grass, tasseled briefly and then about 3 weeks later little cobs tried to form on only a couple of the stalks. Needless to say yield was Zero. I suppose the corn seed could have been bad but it came from a reputable source.
The garden plot needs to stay where it is because of space constraints.
Or to take another tack, which vegetables thrive with high nitrogen. My compost is just pecan and oak leaves, grass, twigs and kitchen scraps. The swill bucket which lives in the middle of the working pile is a 5 gallon bucket with lots of holes drilled in the bottom to let fluids out and a auto rim lid on top to keep varmints out. I plugged the holes in the rim with hardware cloth.
Long story short. What can I do to amend the nitrogen levels to bring them down to where my yield will increase. My brother suggested fresh pine shavings.
We are in Dallas with much amended black clay.
Sounds like your corn did not get properly pollenated. That could have been from lack of insects in the area or not growing your corn in a “block” configuration. Corn is pollenated by insects and through the air so several rows planted close together aide in pollenation.
About your compost, what was the pH of your soil? If it was close to 8, then adding pine needles to your compost will help lower the pH. Most vegetables like a range of 6.5 to 7.5. If your pH is within those levels there is no benefit of adding them. If it is already low (6.5-6.7), then you may actually decrease your plants ability to take up nutrients by adding the pine needles.
Thanks for the questions. They were great!
Thank you so much for your blog on our upcoming Travis County Master Gardeners’
“Edible Gardens” tour. Both of your photos are from my garden and garden cottage.
I am very much looking forward to meeting you. Just to let you know, at 10:00 a.m.
Vicki Blachman (who studied under Madaleine Hill) will speak on “Herbs and
Herbal Vinegars” and at 1:00 p., Velia Ruiz will speak on our American Indian
medicine wheel that my husband built to use as my herb bed.
Always fun to see and experience other people’s gardens!
Thanks for the comment Carolyn. I can’t wait to meet you and see your garden. I really like your out building. My wife and I remodeled an old motor court building as a guest house this summer. Can’t wait to see how you are using yours. We love attending these events in Austin. Such a great group of gardeners up your way. See you soon!
Hi Jay, I have a ‘Pam’ Malvaviscus Turk’s Cap that I have had for at least 6 years now. I have started some from cuttings but now, for fun, I want to try some from seed. I wanted to know weather I should plant them now in trays and leave them outside or inside or save the seed for the spring. And if I save them for spring should I stratify them in the frig. Thank you for any help you can give me. I have enjoyed your articles. And I agree with you on the bunnies. I also have the same problem with deer. Last night I saw 4 when I came home and my husband saw 6 when he came home an hour later. We try to consider the munching they do as ‘pruning’ but it is hard. The wedding pictures were lovely. Cindy
My wife and I love North Carolina. I used to work in Charolette a lot and my wife and I would stay there and explore the state. Love it all. On your Turk’s Cap, it really depends on what you want to achieve. If you just want to let nature take it’s course, you can put them in the ground now under mulch or store in the fridge. No need to stratify them. However, if you want to “speed nature up” I would plant them in four inch pots and leave them on a sunny window sill over the winter. This is what I am doing myself. In the past, this has given me nice little six inch plants that I put out as soon as all frost danger has passed. This just allows your plants to get a little bigger quicker in the Spring. BTW, I like to try things too. If you have enough seed why not try all three methods and see which one works best for you. Good luck and thanks for the question and very nice comment!
Hi ! Jay, I forgot to say I live in North Carolina. Cindy
Hey Jay! I like what you are doing. Question and Comment. We saw madrone (sp) trees all over Big Bend so we figured they would grow in central texas, but cannot find any babies to buy! I am going to seed some buffalo grass. How long after this summer heat should I wait?
Hey Fred! Great to hear from you. The tree you saw is called Texas Madrone. However it is a completely different genus than the ones in the Northwest. The Texas native needs extremely dry conditions, like Big Bend area, to thrive. On the Buffalo Grass, its optimal growing temps are 65 to 80. So I would wait until late September. I would also reseed again in mid-March. Sally has been wanting me to get rid of the St. Augustine and put in Buffalo grass. Let me know how it goes.
I will, but letting you know how my grass does will not be much help to how you would do with it!
You have two options when putting out Buffalo grass. You can buy sod (expensive) or you can seed it with a regular fertilizer spreader. If you put out seed they need to come in contact with the soil. So at a minimum “scalp” your existing grass. Best possible option is to remove all grass. In my opinion, the best and fastest way to get a good lawn is strip the existing grass and buy a few squares of sod. Cut it up into 3″ squares and use them as plugs. Once the plugs are down over seed with the spreader. If you do this in mid to late September you should get a goood start. Then, if it is still spars in the spring you can over seed again.
Howdy Jay… my name is Randy Lemmon and I do the GardenLine show on KTRH in Houston. I just stumbled across your hortmasters site/blog and was blown away by much of the close up photography. I was hoping you would allow me to post an ooccasional picture on Facebook. We have over 7000 FB followers and are growing every weekend. Obviously all credit would go to you and your site . Plus if you are doing any FB work too we can definitely help each other grow our numbers (pun only slightly intended). Let me know what you think. Randy Lemmo. RlemmonKTRH.com
Howdy Randy! No introduction necessary, I am a fan of your show. It would make me very happy for you to use whatever you want from the blog. I am not an active FB user but I do have a page for the blog. I will send you a friend request tonight and like your page. If you don’t mind I will also add a link in my side bar to your website and blog. So glad you found me and I am flattered that you like my pictures!
Awesome!!! Ever since I stumbled across your blog/site looking for some kind of identification of a flowering vine, I’ve been reading ya’lls posts all the way back to December of 2012. (yeah, I’m a geek) You see a picture very similar to what I was cross-referencing, popped up on a google search image. And went, “hmmm, masters of hort, what a great name, wonder who these people are and what state they might be in?” Then I read your “about the writers intros” and I’m like Shazaam — this dude’s in Texas and he’s working on his Masters in Hort at A&M and he’s tight with Dr. Welch and Greg Grant … I gotta get to know this dude! My first re-posting of your stuff it gonna be either the harlequin bugs or the spittle bug –simply awesome clarity. Okay, now I have to ask a personal question: Why are you not a fan of Crotons??? ha!
Go like me up on Facebook, if you haven’t already (GardenLine with Randy Lemmon) and be prepared either late tonight or first thing tomorrow I’m gonna do my first posting of one of your pictures, introduce everyone to your blog and your FB page too, so expect to see a spike in likes over the next 24 hours.
We live in Granbury Tx ( Hood county) and have tried to grow tomatoes for 14 years down here. I am from Illinois and never had trouble growing them up there. Our plants start off nicely and start to flower…..then the blooms fall off and we are lucky to get 3 to 5 tomatoes per plant! We always grow celebrity (readily available here) and a few cherry tomatoes. Any suggestions you can offer would be appreciated. I would like a source to buy seeds down here if possible. It ‘s so much fun to watch them grow!!!
Thanks Much for your help,
There are a lot of things that could be effecting your plants. From what you say, you get flowers but no fruit. First thing is tomatoes need FULL sun. Especially Celebrity. If the are not getting the full 8 to 10 hours a day I would consider growing them in a different place. If they are growing in full sun I would next ask when you plant them. Once temps stay above 70 at night and are regularly over 90, pollenation decreases greatly. Tomato pollen actually begins to explode when temps are above 90 for extended times. I don’t know if you grow from seed or transplant, but I recommend getting mature plants in the ground as early in the season as you can. The last question is “Do you spray pesticides”? If so, you may be discouraging pollinators from coming to the plant. Without good pollenation, tomatoes will begin to form and then drop off.
Sorry to answer your question with more questions but I hope they help guide you to a better harvest. Celebrity is a great tomato. I grow it every year. So I would not give up on the variety. Make sure you plant them early, make sure they gets lots of sun and wait to spray until after the fruit is set.
Also, I get my tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds from Tomato Growers Supply Company http://www.tomatogrowers.com/.
I have followed your writings in Texas Gardner for years and really loved them. Even though I’m over seventy I want to plant a garden this year. My idea is to plant some in raised boxes off the ground, to save on my back, and some in a row crop. I loved your article on trellising tomatoes in the last issue of Texas Gardner. I live outside Brownwood in the country and have many of the same problems you have had with coastal Bermuda and weeds.
Although we have some availability of plants they are not very good quality and not a very good selection of varieties. My idea was to plant some heirloom tomatoes and some more common varieties. I also would like to plant some peppers, green onions, lettuce varieties, radishes, and herbs. I hope this is not too ambitious.
I have never grown some of these from seed, but would like to try. I could order if you know a good source for quality plants? I don’t have a greenhouse, but would love for you to write an article on inexpensive greenhouses and how to get one. How is best way to grow seeds, I remember your experience with them and having to plant on their side. My garden site gets no early morning sun, but starting about eleven gets full to dark.
Guess to sum up I need good source for seeds or plants
Suggestions on varieties
How to grow the seeds indoors for best results
Suggestions for preparation of garden
Any other suggestions for a long time Gardner but neophyte in vegetable gardening
Thank you for the kind words. Let me assure you, you are the perfect age to start a vegetable garden! I hate weeds. To me, they can take most of the fun out of gardening. In your raised beds they shouldn’t be a problem. However, in the rows I recommend good soil prep and mulch. When you till, remove all of the weeds you can. I have already tilled once and done this. I will till again in late February and get anything I missed in January. After this, I cover the walk paths with 8-12 sheets of newspaper. Once that is down, I cover it with a deep layer of non- Bermuda hay. I can sometimes get rice straw here but normally settle for spoiled Sudan.
After I mulch, I plant. If planting transplants I set them in and mulch them with compost. If growing from seed, I wait until the plants are about a foot tall and then I mulch around them with compost. If you did a good job removing the Bermuda, all of this mulching will keep your garden weed free until the mulch starts to break down in early fall.
As for tomato and pepper seeds I get mine from Tomato Growers Supply at tomato growers.com. I always grow celebrity and BHN 640. This year I also ordered Amish paste and Sioux. Sioux is an heirloom I have never tried. Heirlooms are great tasting but generally do not produce as much fruit as hybrids. Plus the bushes get huge. BHN and celebrity are semi-determinate. There bushes only get about 5′ high and 3′ wide plus they make tons of great tasting medium sized tomatoes.
It is time to start tomato and pepper seeds now. Order soon and plant ASAP. Don’t worry about a green house. The easiest thing I have ever done was grow them in small plastic solo cups that I kept in a clear storage container like you get at Walmart. Place your planted cups in the container. Keep by a window in the house until they sprout. After that you can move them outside during the day and bring them in at night. The sides of the container will protect them from wind. If it is going to be below 50 during the day, put the lid on the box and move it outside. The box will act as you mini-greenhouse
Also, it is time to plant lettuce in the ground or in pots outside. It is cold hardy enough to servive temps in the low 20’s. hope this answers your questions and I wish you the best of luck. Don’t hesitate to ask anymore questions you may have. And, please let me know how it goes!
Almost forgot. I played football for Connally High in Waco. Two years in a a row Coach Gordon Wood and the Brownwood Lions kept us out of the state finals. What a great coach. Even though we lost I am glad I got to play against his teams. Truly a legend.
Three of the coaches for Brenham, Glen West, Craig Agnew and Tim Orlien (sp) played for the Brownwood Lions during 1988-1991.
What is you potting mix for starting seeds in cups?
What are some recommended herbs for Central Texas through the spring and summer?
I use Miracle grow moisture control potting soil. I always grow three or four types of basil. Plant it at same time as the tomatoes. I also grow parsley and arugula. I plant and grow it just like lettuce. I also grow perennial herbs – rosemary, thyme and oregano
Thanks, your suggestions have been most helpful. I have ordered tomatoes and peppers from tomato growers and other veggies from wilhite seed. I’ll look into the herb sources.
Now to start getting land and boxes ready. Don’t know if I’ll follow Mel Bartholmiew’s mixture for soil exactly as it’s hard to come by that many types of compost. I do have the vermiculite as I got it in college station at producers coop. I may put in some green sand too.
One 4x4box is built and I’ll need at least one more.
Mel’s method is great. Call your local nursery and ask them if they have a recipe. Plants and Things in Brenham has a their own moxture that they created with the types of compost that are more readily available here. I used their recipe in my potager and have been very happy with it.
How are your chickens doing?
If a person were interested in getting into chickens in a small way say six hens, what are ten things(or more) you would advise them? As you know I live in Brownwood.
Hey Jim. Sorry it has taken me a while to respond. Went on a little vacation and just returned. Sally and love our chickens. We started with six but finally lost one. We got them the day they were hatched from Ideal poultry in Cameron, Tx. We have ameracunas and buff orpingtons. They get along well together. Don’t know if you want chicks or mature birds. We are very happy that we got ours as day old chicks. Because of that, we handled them a lot as they were growing and they are now very friendly. People are always amazed that they come running to us and like to be be picked up and held.
If you get them when they are days old, they need to be kept warm in a brooder box with a heat lamp. The box needs to stay arounf 90 degrees. They come out of the egg ready to eat and drink. Just have chick food and a waterer on hand, stick their beak into them and after that they take care of themselves.
Once they are about 6 weeks old you can start putting them in their coop for a few hours. Our coop in 8X8 and it has an 8X12 run. However, we let them out of the run when we are home. The only pest problems we have had so far were two dog attacks. Neither dog killed one but it was scarey. We currently feed ours a “layer’s mash” and we supplement with scratch that we make from oats, milo, wheat, millet and corn. We also love to give them treats like blue berries and black berries.
The girls are really very easy to care for and we love having them so much. Hope this helps and if you have any more questions do not hesitate to ask!
Thanks to you my wine turned out great! I used quite a bit less sugar and let it stand for 5 months…..good stuff! Thank you. You wouldn’t happen to know any easy agaritia wine recipes would ya?
Glad about your grape wine! I have been reading about agarita wine but have not found a recipe. Sad because a friend of mine has tons of agarita. If you find a recipe please let know. I would love to try and make some myself!
I’m in Southern California but have already found info that can benefit my garden! And it’s always fun to learn from fellow gardeners.
Thanks Lyn. Glad you found something useful on the blog. Never hesitate to drop me a note if you ever have any questions
I would’ve thought it was way too late for cardinals to nest, but I’ve got a female sitting on a nest in the crepe myrtle in my front yard. This is the third nest I’ve had in that tree this year. All of them are less than three feet apart. The cat from across the street has left all of them alone so far. This will be the fourth different brood in my yard this year. They seem to like my place.
Jay, Thanks for the call last week. Enjoyed talking with you. I am very interested in butterfly gardening and wondered if any of your followers would like to comment on their favorite or most productive plants to attract butterflies. I plan to add Blue Mistflowers & Partridge Peas next season. Any Comments? It is never too early to start planning. I follow several butterfly sites but not much interest in plants/gardens. Monarch Waystation 7700 – Baton Rouge, LA
Hey Ken! It was fun visiting. I hope readers jump in on your question. If not, maybe we could work on a blog post that would get them fired up.
I have had blue mist flower in one flower bed for years. It does draw butterflies, but it is VERY invasive.
I have a terrible time with squash bugs here in SW New Mexico. We have stopped growing squash because they are so bad. Do you have any suggestions to help me? We don’t do pesticides and I am thinking that is the only thing that would stop them.
Sorry I am just now responding. It was an absolutely beautiful weekend here and I was outside the whole time. I am sorry to hear about your squash bugs. Unfortunately you and I are in the same boat. I did not grow yellow squash or zucchini last year because of the bugs. If you really want to grow bug free you are going to have to grow under cover. This will of course require your to hand pollinate but that is not too difficult. Here are two articles that I wrote that I hope help you: http://masterofhort.com/2012/04/controlling-squash-vine-borers-melittia-cucurbitae/, http://masterofhort.com/2013/01/hand-pollinating-squash/
Thanks for the information, Jay. I don’t know if it would be something I will do but it certainly is an option. There is actually a book at my library titled If There’s Squash Bugs in Heaven, I Ain’t Going and that just proves that squash bugs drive people crazy.
That is funny! Sounds like a book we can both relate to!
Hi, I am growing slips for the first time suspended in water as you noted. I have 18 potatoes I started 2 weeks ago. Only six started rooting at the base however the rest of them have no roots but a slimy residue surounding the bases. Do you know why this happened? Are they a lost hope? Thanks!
Sorry for the delay getting back to you, I have been on vacation. I would say start changing the water every day. If this does not clear up in a few days that usually means the potatoes are beginning to rot. If that is the case you need to start over. I have had mixed luck with this method. Sometimes it has been amazingly successful and other time I have wound up with rotting potatoes. Last year, I planted two potatoes in moist sand in a slightly shady part of my yard. This was amazingly successful. If you have a place like this at your house I would recommend trying that as well.
I get my wine bottles from the local Catholic church. My parish was Notre Dame Alief texas, we moved to the Granger Saint Cyril parish. My kin came from weimer area,
I planted rye about 2 weeks ago, it has already gone crazy and is beautiful. BUT there is one spot about a 2 foot triangle area where the rye is growing. Any idea why? I did have a fungus in my St. Augustine late a few months back but cured it with fungicide. I even re-seeded the area last week and still nothing. We have had plenty of rain and I water daily around 6am.
I don’t think the fungicide should have stopped the rye from germinating, especially since I am assuming you treated a while back. Let me ask a friend that is a lawn care specialist and get back to you.
Is the bald area the only place you treated with the fungicide or did you treat other areas as well?
Here is what my friend thinks: “I don’t think so..unless there is a really high concentrate of fungicide in that area.. St Augustine is very hard to over seed because of heavy thatch. They might add some peat moss to that area and reseed.”
Thank you so much
No, i treated the entire yard about 2 months ago just to be safe.
Anyone else have any ideas? I will try putting some peat moss or potting soil over the area and reseed, will keep you posted.
Thank you. Where on the stem does one trim a rose bush?
If you are taking cuttings, it does not mater. Roses are like tomatoes, they can grow roots anywhere along their stem. If you are pruning, the recommended rule is cut right above a node or leaf scar. This rule applies mostly to open bush, highly ornamental hybrids. If you grow heirloom roses or very bushy rose varieties you can use hedge trimmers to prune them without doing any damage. In short, many roses are a lot tougher than most people give them credit for. While the right way is to cut each stem with a 45 degree cut right above a node, the reality is they will benefit from a good pruning even if you don’t do it “right”.
Hi, I live in Illinois and have two Turks Cap. Can I plant them outside?
I would call your local extension office. While I would say there is a chance they may survive a southern Illinois winter by heavy mulching there roots, I do not think they would survive a good old fashioned Chicago winter.
Hi Jay, thanks
Hi Jay, would it help if I put a bag over them? I already planted them.
You could. However, what you really want to protect is the roots
I signed up so far you by email and wondered how active you still are as most of these posts are five or six years old. I wanted to get your input on getting a message degree in horticulture. I was a college professor for most of my life, and I’m now sixty years old. I’d like to do something completely different and I’ve been an organic gardener for the past 25 years. Please write me back when you can thank you
I am still active, just not as active. This is my hobby and unfortunately my real job has been eating up my time. I would be happy to discuss my experiences with you while getting my Master’s. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.