Harvesting Wildflowers

While many fields and roadsides are still covered in cheerful, yellow Brown Eyed Susan’s, Mexican Hats and warm orange blanket flowers, the 2017 wildflower season is beginning to come to an end.  The bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes have been gone for about a month now and most of the spring flowers are literally going to seed.  I really hate to see the fading of these flowers because I know that as soon as they are gone our long hot summer begins.

Texas-Wildflowers-1

Bluebonnets may get all the press, but they are definitely not the only beautiful wildflowers that we have in Texas!

If you love wildflowers, and you would like to have more of them at your house, now is a great time to get out and harvest their seeds.  Seed harvesting is very easy and requires only three things-a sharp pair of garden shears, a paper bag and patience.   While it is easy to clip seed heads or seed pods and drop them in your paper bag, they will not germinate if you cut them at the wrong time.  The absolute key to success in gathering wildflower seeds is having the patience to wait until the seed heads, or seed pods, are completely dried out.

Bluebonnets are definitely the most loved wildflower in the state.  Luckily, their seeds are about the easiest to harvest.  Since bluebonnet seeds form in little pods, all you have to do is find pods that have not yet split open.  Clip the pods with your shears and drop them into a paper sack.  Nature will eventually force the pods to burst open (or “shatter”) releasing your seeds into the bag.

harvesting-wildflowers-1

You are not really a gardener until you have more plants than you can care for or until you start stopping on the side of the highway to gather wildflower seeds!!!

Mexican Hat, Brown Eyed Susan, Blanket Flowers and Echinacea are all what we generically call “cone flowers”.  Cone flowers layer their seeds in flat rows around a central conically shaped structure at the top of the stem.  This creates a semi-circular mass of seeds.  Cone flowers are ready to pick when all flower petals and pollen are gone and the seeds and top part of the stem are dry and brittle.  When the seed head is in this condition simply stick your thumb nail into the seeds and make a “split”.  Then use your thumb or fingers to separate the seeds from the cone.

Antelope Horn Milkweed are beautiful and a host for Monarch butterflies.

Antelope Horn Milkweed are beautiful and a host for Monarch butterflies.

One of my favorite wildflowers is Antelope Horn Milkweed.  This plant is a part of the genus Asclepias.  Asclepias are milkweeds and milkweeds host Monarch butterflies.  Like the bees, Monarch butterfly number are declining.  Since I like Monarchs and I love milkweed flowers I have two reasons to collect the downy seeds of this plant.  Asclepias seeds are stored in pods.  When the pod breaks open long, downy wings that are attached to the seed catch a breeze and spread the seeds far and wide.  If you want to gather the seed, watch closely and pick the dried pods (which look like antelope horns) right before, or just as soon as the pod opens.

Brown-Eyed-Susan

The Brown Eyed Susan seed head on the left is not quite ready for harvest

After gathering your wildflower seeds, place them in a cool place in the house and wait until fall.   Texas wild flower seeds should be put out in early October.  You can put them out as late as early November but the plants really benefit if planted early.  Many people recommend simply scattering wild flower seeds on top of the soil and then watering them in.  This will work, but not very well.  Most wild flowers have fairly low germination rates.  In addition, flower seeds on top of the soil are eaten by many birds and mammals and rain washes away a bunch of them.  Due to all of these factors, the best way to ensure that you get the most flowers for your money is to lightly till the area in which you are going to scatter the seed.  Then scatter the seed and rake soil or mowed vegetation over the seeds.  In my experience, lightly covered seed germinate at a much higher rate that those that were scattered on top of the ground.

This shot from Bruce Leander shows bluebonnet pods that are mature enough for harvest

This shot from Bruce Leander shows bluebonnet pods that are mature enough for harvest

Texas has incredibly beautiful wildflowers that bloom over a long season and require no maintenance.  That’s why I collect their seeds and replant them on my property.  In addition to making our little “native pasture” beautiful from March through June, the wild flower seeds that we collect and grow attract a wide variety of birds, butterflies, pollinators and mammals that we love to watch.  If you want to get some wildflowers started on your place, now is harvest time.  Keep your clippers and some bags in the car so you will be ready when you find some fading flowers on the side of the road.

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BBQ, Bluebonnets, and Rockin’ Out in Llano by Patty G. Leander

Today I’m taking a break from vegetables to remember a BBQ legend, revel in Texas wildflowers and be amazed by rocks.

Goode-Company-Restaurants

In memory of and gratitude for Texan and BBQ icon Jim Goode, founder of Houston’s Goode Company Restaurants, who passed away last month at the age of 71. Like so many Texans, I have always loved Goode Company BBQ, Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie and the Goode Company logo, above. For a bit of nostalgia that takes you back to the 1977 origins of that first restaurant on Kirby Lane, click over to the Goode Company website: http://www.goodecompany.com/our_start.asp.

Mesquite-bar-b-que

Goode woode: Jim Goode’s use of mesquite for smoking brisket and grilling burgers earned him the title King of Mesquite

If you are reading this and you live in Texas let’s all pause for a moment and thank our collective lucky stars. We are a big, diverse, dynamic state with an amazing history, incredible natural resources, the best BBQ and the friendliest people around. Gridlocked traffic and contentious politics can weigh a little heavy at times, but spring is here, Texas is blooming and it’s a beautiful, invigorating sight to see.

Texas-redbud

Early blooms of Texas redbuds promise that spring is on its way

Bruce and I had the opportunity to take it all in recently during a drive from Austin to Midland. I had been invited to give a talk on edible landscaping at a monthly seminar hosted by the Permian Basin Master Gardeners, but they did not have to twist my arm to come; Midland is my hometown and it had been over two years since making the pilgrimage to my West Texas roots.

Texas-Wildflowers

The highways bloom with Lady Bird’s legacy: Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush (left), Texas poppy and Indian blanket (right)

We took our usual route on Hwy 71, noting the landmarks along the way: the small Post Office in Valley Spring (never a line), Coopers BBQ in Llano (always a line), the rows of grapevines in Pontotoc (the Chickasaw word for “Land of Hanging Grapes”) and the “Heart of Texas” monument in front of the McCulloch County Courthouse in Brady (the geographical center of Texas). US 87 from Brady takes us to Eden where the main intersection in town offers us a choice of either DQ on the north side or Venison World to the south and also marks the halfway point between the house I now live in and the house I grew up in. From Eden it’s on to San Angelo for a pit stop and an iced tea at McAlister’s, then the cautious drive through Carlsbad where we were nabbed several years ago for exceeding the speed limit (it’s easy to miss the two mile stretch where the speed limit drops from 70 to 60 MPH). After Carlsbad the miles pass quickly – 30 minutes to Sterling City, 30 minutes to Garden City and then target acquired – the Midland skyline appears on the horizon. The Tall City.

Though Midland has changed over the years, through times of boom and bust, my nostalgia grows as the miles pass, anticipating familiar faces and places, a drive through my old neighborhood and a ‘meat chalupa, add guacamole’, at Taco Villa (can’t seem to shake this habit from high school). But this time the most exciting part of the 300 mile trek was passing rivers full of WATER. Every river and creek we passed – the Pedernales, the Colorado, the San Saba, the Concho – were flowing at levels we haven’t seen in years. I know this is a stark contrast to the flood conditions that so many are dealing with in parts of East Texas but after several years of exceptional and extreme drought conditions throughout West Texas it was a sight and a blessing to behold.

2016-rock-stacking-world-championship

Stacks of rocks got our attention as we crossed the Llano River

On the way to Midland something caught Bruce’s eye as we crossed the Roy Inks Bridge in Llano…stacks of rocks strewn along the banks of the river. We were on a fairly tight schedule to get to Midland and with 250 miles left to go we decided to check it out on the return trip and we are so glad we did. We learned that the stacked rocks were part of the 2016 Rock Stacking World Championship sponsored by the Llano Earth Art Festival. There were four categories of stacking – height, balance, arches and artistic/freestyle – all created without adhesive, wire or any other aids. Visitors were invited to wander among the stacked creations, and to build their own if so moved. I think my rock-admiring, geologist dad would have heartily approved.

 

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Rocks hanging in the balance – the rock stacks remain in place until nature displaces them

 

rock-stacking

Inspired by the rock stacks I decided my garden needed to have at least one.

Thank you Permian Basin Master Gardeners and Midland/Ector County Extension for the invitation to speak and for your edible garden enthusiasm and welcoming hospitality!

 

I share these posts on Our SimpleHomestead Blog Hop.  Be sure to stop by.  The “hop” has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Week 36 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden

I am really looking forward to this weekend.  Work has been very stressful so I really need three days of intensive garden therapy.  While many of you will be beaching, boating or barbecuing, I will be spending all of my Labor Day Weekend laboring.  I am going to spend all three days catching up on chores and planting lots and lots of transplants.

cabbage-head

This is a great weekend to plant cabbage and other cole crops from transplants.

Vegetables

  • Transplant! – I love the vegetables that come from the fall garden best of all-and this is the weekend to plant the ones I love. This weekend I will be planting broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts from transplant.  It is also a great time to plant shallots.  Plant transplants in well-draining soil that has been thoroughly worked with compost.    Keep soil moist for the first couple of weeks to ensure good rooting.  No fertilize is needed at transplant time.
  • Plant from seed- We are running out of time to plant a lot of fall crops from seed. My first freeze usually comes around November 16.  Because of this it is too late to plant anything that takes more 70 days to mature. You can still plant most beans (green, lima, runner, wax).  You should still have time to get a cucumber harvest from seed if you plant now. Some yellow squash will produce in under 70 days.  However use transplants at this late date to ensure a harvest.
  • Plant herbs from transplants – Herbs do great in the cooler fall temperatures. Plant basil, chives, cilantro and dill.  Use that dill to make fresh pickles with cucumbers that you will plant this weekend.
mexican-mint-marigold

Mexican mint marigold is an anise flavored herb that blooms prolifically in the fall

Ornamentals

  • Prune roses – If you have not yet pruned your roses, do it this weekend. There are different types of roses and they all have different pruning requirements.  Check out this great article from Heirloom Roses about how to properly prune your roses this fall.  http://www.heirloomroses.com/care/pruning
  • Redo Potted Plants – Fall potted plants require less water and their foliage stays bright the entire season. While marigolds and chrysanthemums are perennial fall favorites consider adding some clumping grasses or large scale cactus to your arrangements.  They will add color, texture and drama to all of your creations.

 

cactus-potted-plant

Fall is the best time of the year for potted plants in Texas. Spice up your arrangements by mixing grasses or cactus with the standard annuals

Trees and Lawns

  • Plant bluebonnets and other wildflowers – To over seed wildflowers, mow the lawn as close as possible then spread your seed. Once the seed is down walk around on them.  Wildflowers need to come in contact with the soil to get the best germination
  • Control fire ants organically – Fire ants love okra and broccoli. If you are like me you do not like to use chemicals anywhere near the vegetable garden.  Control fire ants organically by combining compost tea, molasses and orange oil.
plant-happiness

Plant Texas wildflowers in September

 

I share these posts on Our SimpleHomestead Blog Hop.  Be sure to stop by.  The “hop” has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

2015 Bluebonnet Report

This weekend the kids all came for Easter.  Sally and I absolutely love it when the kids come for a whole bunch of reasons.  However, one of my favorites is my son in law Ramez Antoun’s camera.  Ramez is a dang fine amateur photographer.  Each time he comes he leaves me with a ton of outstanding photographs.  This weekend the bluebonnets of Washington County were at their peak.  He took tons of great shots of the bluebonnets and all of the other wildflowers in our yard.  I was so impressed with them that I thought I would share.

bluebonnets-lake

Our little house sits on a long, narrow two acre lot.  We have a ranch in front of us and one behind us.  One of the ranches has a 56 acre lake on it.  This shot is from our yard looking toward the lake.  I love the way this picture captures the swaths of bluebonnets that lead down to the lake.

Bluebonnets-yorkie

All of our kids are dog lovers.  Kate and Ramez are the owners of the Yorkie in the picture above (my apologies for the ugly sweater they forced her to wear) .  Our daughter Jessie and her husband own the three labs below. The two black labs are retired guide dogs.  While Jessie was in college she and Cameron worked with a group of people that socialized and trained dogs for the seeing impaired.   They got these dogs when they were six weeks old and kept them for the first year of their lives.  They then turned them over for further training.  Finally, the wound up with a seeing impaired person who loved and depended on them for several years.  When it was time for them to retire, the foundation offered them back Jessie and her husband.  How could they refuse?

bluebonnets-labrador

Here is a great shot of our little guest house/bed and breakfast.  I love the mural that my wife had done last year.  If you are planning a trip to Washington County, Sally and I would love to be your hosts.  Click on the link below to tour “The Nest” and/or book your stay.

bluebonnets-guest-house

 

Finally, bluebonnets aren’t the only wildflowers that are blooming now in Washington County.  I leave you with this great shot of an Indian Paintbrush.

This post has been shared on the HomeAcre Hop!  Stop by the hop and see what gardeners and homesteaders across the country are doing.

indian-paintbrush

Tip of the Week – Week 14 in the Zone 9 Garden

This Sunday my two favorite things cross – the Liturgical Calendar and the Planting Calendar.  Over the next few days the traditions of my church will remind me of the truly important things in life – sacrifice, forgiveness and the power of resurrective love.

While I most intensely feel the presence of God during this time of year, I most often EXPERIENCE him outside the walls of the church.  If you are not aware of the mystery and wonder of your creator right now then you are not trying.  Where I live he has once again filled me with awe and wonder by painting our yards, fields and roadways blue.  Bluebonnet season is now fully underway in Washington County.  This weekend, after you finish your ham and pea salad, why not take a drive in the country and experience the majesty of His creation.

My gumbo onions are truly beautiful when they flower.

My gumbo onions are truly beautiful when they flower.

Vegetables

As I write this every muscle in my body aches.  However, I actually enjoy this feeling because it reminds me (every time I move) that I finally got my spring garden planted!!!!  Spring rains made my clay soil too wet to work the previous two weekends.  This past weekend was perfect.  My wife and I cleaned out our left over brassicas and all of our spring weeds and planted five varieties of tomatoes (from the best transplants I have ever grown).  This year I am growing Big Boy, which is my favorite large slicing tomato but does have some problems with cracking.  Celebrity is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE hybrid.  Medium sized with great flavor and not too much pulp.  My wife loves to make tomato sauce and paste.  Because of this we always grow heirloom “La Roma”.  I am trying a new heirloom variety this year called “Stupice”.  Supposedly this small, flavorful tomato originated in the Czech Republic.  I am growing it because my wife is Czech and because it is supposed to be a very productive and great tasting small tomato.  Finally, I planted “Black From Tula”.  This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE heirloom tomato.  I love it’s rich, complex and somehow smokey flavor.  While it is an heirloom that makes a HUGE bush, it produces fairly well for me.

To control blossom end rot, heavily mulch your tomatoes and water regularly.  Blossom end rot is caused by uneven moisture affecting the plants ability to take up and use calcium.  I don’t care what Facebook says, adding your wife’s calcium tablets to your planting holes will not stop end rot.  The calcium in those pills is not available to the plant.  Even if it was available, uneven watering would still prevent the plant from taking it up.  Learn to water properly.

yellow-iris

I love irises and I several that are blooming around around my yard.

Ornamentals

While I love growing ornamental plants in my landscape, my favorite thing is cutting their blooms and foliage to make arrangements for the inside of the house.  Things are finally beginning to bloom well enough to make fresh cuts.  This week I will be bringing in iris, roses, rosemary (for filler), dianthus, coral honeysuckle and onion blooms.  To keep your flowers producing fertilize with finished compost every couple of weeks.  If using blended fertilizer use those with good Phosphorous and Potassium.  These two nutrients encourage blooming and flower set.

Our front yard is truly beautiful right now.

Our front yard is truly beautiful right now.

Lawns

OK yardeners, it now time for you.  The general rule about fertilizer is “apply three weeks after the grass greens”.  For my Zone 9 yard this is now.  As a general rule use a 3-1-2 (15-5-10 or 21-7-14, etc.) fertilizer at the rate of one pound per thousand square feet about every eight weeks.  Set mowers to 3” for sunny yards and 3 ½” to 4” for shady yards.  The lower the setting the more frequently you will need to mow.  Water your lawns only when they show stress.  A good indicator is footprints.  If you walk through and the grass pops back up, don’t water.  If the foot prints remain then water the lawn to a depth of six inches.  Even in the hottest part of summer you can get by watering every five or six days.

Now back to those bluebonnets.  If you have them in your yard (and you want them next year) do not mow them until their foliage dies.  Also do not fertilize the area they are in.  Bluebonnets, and many other wildflowers, actually prefer marginal soil.  If you improve your soil too much the wildflowers will move someplace else.

I share my posts on the HomeAcre Hop.  Be sure to stop by the hop.  It has tons of great information from gardeners and homesteaders all over the world!

Signs of Spring

Right now, if you are a Zone 9 gardener, you are busy.  If you haven’t already gambled and done much of your spring planting, you will soon.  If you are not planting, you are weeding, tilling or otherwise preparing your beds and borders for all of the flowers and veggies to come.  Yes, it is definately a time of sore backs and aching muscles.

blog8 With so much to do, it is easy to overlook all of the amazing things that are happening all around us.  That is why I always make a point to walk around and observe all of the beautiful things that are beginning to make their spring show.

blog2 I love the things that produce every year with out any help from me.  My peach and plum trees are beginning to flower.  In my mind, there aren’t many things that are any prettier than the delicate pink blooms of the peach tree.

blog5 No Texas spring is complete without bluebonnets.  The winter drought is going to mean that there are fewer bluebonnets to enjoy this year.  However, one really is enough.

blog6 I absolutely love larkspur.  These self seeding annuals are as utterly dependable as my poppies and my bluebonnets.

blog1 Cherokee rose is an absolutely horrible plant.  It is full of thorns, it grows like a weed and it only blooms once.  However, this is the first “found rose” that I ever propogated.  Plus, I did it with my daughter.  So, despite all of the bad things about it, I will love it and keep it forever.

blog3 Even though I have several bulbs blooming now, I think the delicate leucojum (Snow Flakes) are my favorites.

A redbud in full bloom is a great reminder that spring really is here again

A redbud in full bloom is a great reminder that spring really is here again

By far, the biggest and showiest announcer of spring are the native Texas Redbuds.  The sight of their bright magenta blooms can bring cheer to the cloudiest day.

 

Mutant Bluebonnet-Fasciation

Below you will find a picture of the most incredible and unusual bluebonnet that I have ever seen.  My best friend, Johnny Pickle, found this on his place just outside of Bellville,Texas.  It is the most unusual plant thing I have ever seen.  Now I know that bluebonnets often mutate.  I have seen pure white ones.  A “maroon” mutation is what allowed my friends at A&M to create the maroon and white variety.  However, this one is not a color mutation.  I don’t even know how to describe this.  It looks like about ten stems fused together that then created one massive flower head.  Truly incredible!

Incredible mutant bluebonnet on a ranch near Bellville, Texas

MYSTERY SOLVED- After writing this post, I sent the picture out to my friends in Extension at A&M  According to my friends Cynthia Mueller and Doug Welsh, this is rare but not unheard of.  In fact, this is the second photo like this they have seen this year.  This bluebonnet is suffering from a condition called fasciation.  Fasciation is literally translated to mean “bundling”.  Fasciation is caused by some sort of stress like physical damage, hormonal imbalance, virus, bacteria, insects or drought.  Now we had plenty of drought last year and that is probably what caused this.

Fasciation is very common in Celosia (cock’s comb) and those blooms are highly sought after.  Since fasciation is not a genetic mutation, you cannot save these seeds and plan on getting the same thing next year.

2012 Bluebonnet Season is Here!

Once again, I am pleased to announce that bluebonnet season is here.  Below is a pic of the first one to bloom in our yard.  It will be interesting to see how well they do this year.  Because of last years drought, I was initially afraid that it was going to be a bad year.  However, the January and February rains may have come just in time. 

Photo by Sally White

In my own yard, we have knee high foliage around the trees.  That is because we were pouring the water to those trees to keep them alive last summer and fall.  Until about a month ago I thought the bluebonnets under the trees were going to be all we got at the White House.  However, with the help of the winter rain, the rest of my yard is now covered in foliage that is about 6″ tall. 

If you live more than 100 miles north of Houston, your bluebonnets probably look like this now. Photo by Sally White

Like everything else, bluebonnets bloom at different times based on their latitude.  If you live within 50 miles of Houston, you are already seeing the highways show color.  If you live further north than that, your blooms will come in a week or two.  BTW, you want to hear an interesting horticultural fact about why bluebonnets in particular, and wildflowers in general, bloom along the highways before they do in your yard?  It’s because of the pollution produced by the cars.  One of the major components of car exhaust is ozone (chemical symbol O3).  Ozone is a colorless, odorless gas that causes plants to grow faster and bloom sooner.  That’s why blueboonets always bloom first along the road.  Now before you get too excited thinking “WOW!  This is a cool side effect of pollution”, remember ozone works on ALL plants.  Things like dandelions and ragweed will also grow faster and bloom sooner under its effects.

So, based on the bluebonnets in my yard, I am happy to announce that once again it is time to load up the family and the camera and head out into the country for some more bluebonnet pictures.  In spite of last year’s drought, the recent rains make me confident that this will be another great year for you take hundreds of pictures of your kids nestled among the big, beautiful mounds of blue that are supplied to us by the best state flower in the country!

If you want to learn more about the history and botany of bluebonnets, check out last years post at http://masterofhort.com/2011/03/bluebonnet-season-is-here/

Time to Mow the Bluebonnets

I’ve gotten a lot of querries about when to mow bluebonnets.  Well, if you live in Washington County, Texas, the time is now. If you live somewhere other than Brenham, you can ldetermine when to mow them by looking at the seed pods of your bluebonnets.  If most of the pods have opened and curled up, it is time to mow.   Here are a couple of not so great pictures to illustrate what I am talking about:

Here is what a seed pod looks like before it shatters. Notice it is still green and the pod is closed.

In  the following picture, note how the pod is opened and the sides have curled up.  This curling of the pod helps to disperse the seeds. Sorry for the poor focus. Look closely and you can see the empty pod.

Bluebonnet season is here!!!

 

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes in the Yupneck's yard. Photo by Ramez Antoun

“The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.”

That quote from Jack Maguire comes closer to describing the way we Texans feel about our state flower than anything else I have ever read.  The bluebonnet is as much a symbol of Texas as is the Alamo or the Texas flag.   The bluebonnet was selected as our state flower in large part because it is uniquely Texan.  The two most common varieties (Lupinis texensis and Lupinis subcarnosus) grow natively here and nowhere else.  This plant is so well loved that each year, millions of Texans load up their cars with kids and camera equipment and head out into the country.  I truly believe that no one in Texas has ever avoided being photographed in a field of bluebonnets.  

A yupneck family picture in our bluebonnets

I am fortunate enough to live in one of the best bluebonnet counties in Texas.  I live on two long, skinny, Washington county acres.  Because of the shape of my property I have about 600’ of road frontage.  My wife has worked very hard to ensure that every inch of that 600’ is covered in bluebonnets.  I am pleased to say, she has succeeded!  In fact, she has been so successful that we have actually come home and found complete strangers in our yard taking pictures.

The Farmall Cub that I bought to mow the dead bluebonnet foliage

While bluebonnets are definitely the most fabulous native flower ever created, they do have their problems.  Unless you have ever grown bluebonnets you may not be aware of what happens after the blooms fade.  Bluebonnet foliage can grow to about 2’ in height.  After they set seed the foliage and the seed pods begin to dry out and die.  This creates a very unattractive, “weedy” look in the yard.  However, no matter how bad it looks, you cannot mow them until the seed pods “shatter” and release their seeds.  Mow too soon and you will not have bluebonnets next year.  This “weedy” appearance in the yard requires very patient and very understanding neighbors.  Luckily for us, the people of Washington County are serious about their bluebonnets and no one would ever complain about our “seeding” bluebonnets (at least not to our faces).  One the bright side, the dry bluebonnet clumps are so thick and hard they almost ruined our John Deere riding mower.  So, in order to save the John Deere from the bluebonnets, my wife let me buy a 1946 Farmall cub with a shredder to handle this once a year job.

A slightly blurry but very cute picture of my wife in our bluebonnets

If you want some bluebonnets of your own, they are very easy to grow.  Just throw some seeds out in your yard in October or November.  Timing is everything.  They must go out at this time if you want them in the spring.  Bluebonnets have a relatively low germination rate.  So, to increase your success rate, mow your grass very close to the ground before sowing.  Once you have spread the seed, walk around on them and try and ensure that they have good contact with the soil.  Water them in.  After watering, you can forget about them until spring.  Only apply supplemental water if you do not receive average fall and winter rainfall.  Bluebonnets are very drought tolerant (they are a Texas native after all).  Over watering will kill them quicker than anything.

This weekend, my wife and I found the first bluebonnet flower in our yard.  Because of this, I am pleased to announce that Bluebonnet season is here again.  It is time to enjoy some of the best weather and scenery that Texas has to offer.   So, load up your kids, drive out in the country and make your kids endure the same spring rituals that your parents made you endure.  They will thank you later. 

P.S.  Don’t  go onto other people’s property without asking.  If you do, you may get to experience another Texas tradition – shooting trespassers!  Happy Spring Y’all!!!!