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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.



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



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 47 Tips for the Zone 9 Garden

Well the law of averages may actually work this weekend.  According to historical data there is a 50% chance of a freeze in my area by November 22. is predicting that it will be 33 when I wake up on Sunday, November 22.  I would say that is getting pretty close the historical average.  .  If you still have things in garden I would suggest digging out the row cover and the Christmas lights.  Looks like we are going to need them.



Lettuce and spinach can be grown in most of Texas from September through early April.  Don’t have much room?  Grow them in pots and keep them close to the kitchen door!

  • Plant – Even though it is going to be cool for a few days you can still plant lettuce and spinach in most of the state. If you live north of the DFW metroplex you may need to grow them in a way that will allow you to quickly cover them for temperatures below 24 or the infrequent snow or ice storm.  Thanksgiving is about the last time that you can plant fava beans.
  • Harvest – I don’t know if it is true or not, but I have always heard that collard greens are “sweeter” if harvested after the first freeze. Well, 33 is pretty close to a freeze so I would say this will be a great week to harvest your collard and mustard greens.



Two of the most loved, and most durable cool weather flowers are pansies and violas. Now is a great time to put them out in most of Texas

  • Plant – It is finally cool enough to put out dianthus, snap dragons, pansies, violas and ornamental kale and cabbages. Prepare the soil by gently tilling in an inch or two of compost. You can still plant Texas wild flowers from seed in late November and early December.  Now is also a great time to plant two of my favorite spring flowers – larkspur and sweet peas.  Spread larkspur in a broadcast manner.  Plant sweet peas individually about an inch deep.  They will bloom now, stay small through the cool weather and then take off when the temperatures begin to warm up in March.
  • Prune – Some of the finer textured perennials like guara and salvia can be pruned back after the first freeze. I cut mine down to about 6” and mulch them fairly deeply.
  • Fertilize – Since the soil microbes take longer to break down your compost in the cooler temps it is a good idea to feed your ornamentals with a diluted, water soluble fertilizer for the first few weeks.


    Broadcast lasrkspur seed now for to ensure you have lots of these beautiful reseeding annuals in the spring,


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!