Px3: Perennial, Pollinators, Powerful

I absolutely fall for fall, when everything explodes at once! A few white-blooming ‘Silverado’ cenizo (Texas sage) flowers hooked up with re-blooming Iceberg roses and hot weather thryallis.

White blooming cenizo, Iceberg rose, thryallis

White mistflower (Ageratina havanensis) will pop us a few flowers in spring, but it goes for the gusto as the days get shorter and cooler, attracting migrating and residential butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.

White mistflower Ageratina havanensis
Daphne makes this native perennial her pick of the week. This wildlife favorite can grow as tall as 6’ but usually I’ve seen it in the 2-3’ foot range. Late winter shearing will encourage shrubbier growth and more flowers, since it blooms on new wood. The ones I planted last fall are now among my favorites! This one’s in the front bed with Yucca ‘Margaritaville,’ pink skullcap, purple heart, daylilies, bamboo muhly and soon to bloom Copper Canyon daisy.

white mistflower yucca 'Margaritaville' pink skullcap, dayliles
I include plants for pollinators in every season, since one of the top secrets to a healthy garden is abundant wildlife. Plus, you’ll be “on tour” every day to a thankful crowd!

To show off a few, Crystal Murray from Far South Nursery joins Tom this week.

Crystal Murray Far South Nursery Central Texas Gardener
Far South is a wholesale nursery, so don’t show up at their doorstep! Instead, ask for these plants at your nursery, since they supply many in Texas. But, do check out their great plant list for details about some of the tried and true plants they grow.

A new one to me is Indian mallow (Abutilon palmeri), with silvery velvety leaves on a plant that can get 5’ tall. It wants full sun and good drainage. Since it’s only hardy to 25°, it may be a re-seeding annual in cold winters.

Indian Mallow Abutilon palmeri Central Texas Gardener
Another for sunny dry spots is native Gray golden-aster (Heterotheca canescens) that gets about 1’ tall to attract small butterflies from July to September.

Gray golden-aster (Heterotheca canescens)

Whoa, check this out: a pink-blooming Anisacanthus (Anisacanthus puberulus).

Anisacanthus puberulus Central Texas Gardener

Unlike the orange flame acanthus beloved by hummingbirds in late summer/fall, this one blooms in spring, with a more arching habit, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and moths.

A little one I relish in spring is native blue-eyed grass (many species). This member of the iris family actually showed up in my desert-like yard long ago. As soon as I amended the soil, off if went. Now, I’ve got a return every year with transplants in the sunny cat cove, where I’ve dug in a few bags of decomposed granite, assuring good drainage.

Blue-eyed grass flowers Central Texas
A perennial evergreen groundcover that doesn’t like much water and well-drained soil is groundcover creeping germander (Teucrium cossonii). I planted my first ones this year to cover the ground under The Fairy roses (set back by drought, but quickly returning).

Creeping germander with The Fairy rose
This well-drained curbside bed gets the west afternoon sun, reflected street heat, and minimal water.

Creeping germander Teucrium cossonii

Someday, mine are going to look like these at Shoal Creek Nursery.

Creeping germander Teucrium cossonii Shoal Creek Nursery
When I stopped by Shoal Creek last week, they were starting to bloom. I bet the bees are all over them by now!

Creeping germander Teucrium cossonii flower
Crystal also promotes Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra). Blooming and fruiting from spring to frost, these drought-tough shrubs/small trees are evergreen except in extremely cold winters.

Barbados cherry Malpighia glabra flowers and green fruit
That’s just the quick version! Watch online for all of Crystal’s plants and explanations and get her list.

On tour in Kyle, see how Ida Bujan reduced her lawn thumbprint and turned her small garden into a native habitat.

Native plant garden Kyle Texas

She’s got the most glorious Barbados cherry ever!

Barbados cherry Malpighia glabra ripe fruits
Crystal recommends native frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora). I love how Ida replaced lawn with this white-flowering, evergreen groundcover on this side slope.

Frogfruit lawn replacement Kyle Texas
See how Ida did it!

Herbs also attract many beneficial insects. Right now is prime time to plant cool weather yummies for us, like cilantro, parsley, dill and fennel. This week, Trisha shows what she’s planting and how to divide crowded nursery transplants for even more to flavor your recipes.

Winter herbs Trisha Shirey

Certainly, you’ll want extras of parsley, fennel, and dill to attract swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs. A few caterpillars eating your plants late next spring mean lots of butterflies all over the place!

It’s also the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. But what’s the best way to water them? Daphne answers Mary Riley’s great question: Do I water my shrubs to the drip line, like for trees? Find out how.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda

On tour with the Travis County Master Gardeners

How can you reduce lawn, combine edibles, flowers for wildlife, living spaces, and art?

no lawn edible ornamental front yard
The best ideas come from fellow gardeners! That’s why you won’t want to miss the Travis County Master Gardeners’ “Inside Austin Gardens” tour on October 20. This year highlights hands-on gardeners who tuck in food with their salvias and succulents, like Ann & Robin Matthews, who even take it all out front.

no lawn edible ornamental front garden
They unite their garden with neighbor Donnis Doyle, also on tour.

hot curb strip garden
In back, find out how they got rid of grass in favor of paths, coves, and a labyrinth-style vegetable garden.

labyrinth vegetable garden
See how they screen a view with Hardiboard imprinted with ancient Native American rock art they’ve seen on excursions throughout Texas.

Hardiboard garden screen

On tour, you can also see how Donnis screened her view of a daycare center for a soothing spot to hang out with her neighbors.

galvanized steel patio screen

Here’s a sneak preview with CTG’s video visit.

I love the natural screen the Matthews chose on one side: bay laurel!

bay laurel hedge

Daphne makes bay laurel her Pick of the Week to explain how to grow this Central Texas evergreen as a screen or accent. Why buy expensive bay leaves when you can pluck some of your own?

bay laurel leaf

When I got my bay laurel in a 4” pot, I potted it up as a patio container.  It barely grew (though it’s fine in a pot if you have just a small space). Then, I ran into large bay hedges in long-term gardens. I saw Trisha’s huge one at her Lake Austin Spa garden. So, I stuck mine in the ground to shield a so-so shed. It shot up like a fiend in blasts of hot sunlight (not all day) and very little water.  In 14°, it suffered a little leaf damage, but spring pruning flushed it right back out. The Barbados cherry in front died to the ground, but returned, too.

Barbados cherry bay laurel screen

I just pluck a leaf when I need it for the pot. When I prune to tidy and shape, I bring in some to dry. If you missed Trisha’s segment on how to dry and anchor herbs, and the ones to choose, watch it now!

To preview the other gardens on tour, Tom meets with Travis County Master Gardeners Carolyn Williams and Holly Plotner.

Tom Spencer, Carolyn Williams, Holly Plotner Master Gardeners

Here’s just a tease of the diversity on tour this year!

Stock tank vegetable beds Travis County Master Gardeners

No lawn backyard habitat
Cute garden shed Travis County Master Gardeners
Garden fountains Travis County Master Gardeners

Renee Studebaker isn’t officially a Master Gardener (though she’s a master at it!). If you’ve ever wanted a closer look at her garden, here’s the chance! She’s even going to be serving homemade treats from her harvests.

Renee Studebaker's front yard garden

And find out where Daphne hangs out with a visit to the Texas AgriLife Extension Office demo gardens! She and Augie will be on hand (paw) all day to answer your questions!

Not only will you have a chance to talk with the gardeners to see how they did it and where they got it, each site includes educational talks and plant and book sales.  All this for just $20 or $5 per garden, to support their many free workshops throughout the year. Find out more about upcoming workshops and details of the tour.

Since we all like to recycle, a viewer asks: “Can I spread used kitty litter on the grass or non-edible gardens?” Get Daphne’s answer about why this isn’t a good idea—it’s not what you might think. Telo and Camille Farber already watched this on their iCatfonz to pass along to their moms, sisters Galia (KLRU’s production coordinator) and Naomi.

Galia's cats in sink
In the next few weeks, it’s time to plant wildflower seeds like Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella).

Indian blanket Gaillardia pulchella
Andrea DeLong-Amaya from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center shows how to sow for the best success. Since bluebonnets are tops on the list, she explains how to improve germination the first year.

plant bluebonnet seeds
Note: the inoculant she mentions has become very hard to find, so go with one of her other techniques to start your bluebonnet patch. Trisha sometimes moves bluebonnet plants to a new area (or you can buy transplants) to inoculate the soil, too. I’ve always had great luck without the inoculant.

Happy planting until next week! Linda

Fall in love with autumn bulbs and grasses

Big day in my garden! The autumn daffodils (Sternbergia lutea) popped up reliably a year after planting.

Sternbergia lutea autumn daffodil
These small crocus-like plants, native to the Mediterranean, are cute companions for red oxblood lilies and spider lilies (Lycoris radiata).

Lycoris radiata spider lily and Sternberia lutea autumn daffodil
Last fall on CTG, Chris Wiesinger, author of Heirloom Bulbs for Today, introduced me to these beauties that will naturalize in my Blackland soil, even in part shade! I wasted no time ordering these hard-to-find bulbs online.

Mostly though, I get plants from local nurseries supplied by local/regional growers (or grown themselves), along with passalongs from friends.  My native Plumbago scandens has been in non-stop mode for months against evergreen Texas sedge (Carex texensis). The plumbago will die to the ground this winter but return even stronger next spring.

Plumbago scandens with Texas sedge
Mine came from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center sales—coming up again Oct. 13 & 14 (member’s preview Oct. 12). You can even join that day to beat the rush for superb natives, including ones that don’t often show up in nurseries.

These days, many nurseries do have native grasses like Lindheimer muhly (on the left) and deer muhly (on the right):  this spectacular duo in Anne Bellomy’s garden.

Lindheimer and deer muhly seed heads

Native grasses, in the fields and in our gardens, are both lovely and beneficial. Many send down deep roots, benefiting aeration, stabilizing the soil, and improving fertility—along with providing shelter and food for wildlife. And in fall, they are the ultimate drama queens! My Lindheimer was our favorite autumn standout until it got too much shade and withered away. Until I find a sunny spot, I’ll just enjoy Anne’s.

Lindheimer and deer muhly
This week, Tom meets with Shirley and Brian Loflin, who note that grasses once predominated the Hill Country and the Blackland prairie.

Tom Spencer Shirley Loflin Brian Loflin
Their book, Grasses of the Texas Hill Country, is a friendly hands-on guide to identify and learn about both cool and warm weather grasses in our fields and for our gardens. This popular book is currently in reprint, available for pre-order from Texas A&M University Press.

Grasses of the Texas Hill Country Brian and Shirley Loflin

Currently, it is available as a Google ebook, too.

Brian’s photography helps make it easier to identify the grasses that soon will be in show-off mode, like curly mesquite. This one’s part of  the Habiturf mix that includes buffalo grass and blue grama for a native lawn in sun.  By the way, the Habiturf trio is available at the Wildflower Center and online.

Common curly mesquite Brian and Shirley Loflin

Little bluestem is another native beauty that you’ll be seeing soon.

Little Bluestem Brian and Shirley Loflin

Artist Shirley also creates beautiful framed botanicals with grasses, perfect for that wall you’ve wanted to adorn!

Grasses framed botanical Loflin

You can order online from their site, The Nature Connection, and also find out about their workshops, field trips, and see Brian’s extensive photography of insects, animals, plants, and wonders of the natural world.

Want to know more about cactus, too?!

Texas Cacti Brian and Shirley Loflin

Since we’re heading into prime time planting season for grasses, shrubs, perennials and wildflowers, get inspired with a visit to Betty & Gerald Ronga’s garden where food, wildflowers and wildlife unite on this rocky hilltop in Leander.

Betty and Gerald Ronga garden Central Texas Gardener

Many of us face watering restrictions, like Sheila C., who asks if fungal disease is a problem if we must water at night.

fungal disease watering at night
Daphne explains how it depends on the season and the situation.

It’s hard to imagine that we’re just weeks away from losing our summer annual herbs. Get ready now with Trisha’s tips and tricks for freezing herbs in oil and butter, along with recipes and making herbal vinegars.

Freezing herbs Trisha Shirey
Note: to watch an individual segment online, click on the vertical chapter marks above the play bar!

Happy planting and see you next week, Linda

Keyhole gardens, Oak leaf galls, Gabriel Valley Farms, Drying herbs

First, I have to admit: I’m a bulb freak. I’d buy a thousand more if I could. Instead, I divide my naturalizing wealth and then forget where I planted them. That’s okay, because garden surprises like these oxblood lilies are treasures every year, especially abundant this September, thanks to the rain.

Oxblood lilies and plumbago Austin Texas
I walked out last weekend to find this red spider lily (Lycoris radiata) peeking out in the turk’s caps.

red spider lily (lycoris) and turk's cap
Red is a color that many gardeners are seeing this year from oak leaf galls.

Oak leaf galls (c) Danielle Deuillet
This week, Daphne explains what’s going on: “The small, reddish galls on the undersides of our oak leaves right now are caused by tiny wasps.  They lay their eggs on the leaves and the tree responds by forming a protective structure, the gall, to contain the wasp eggs while the insect larvae grow into adults.”

Oak leaf galls (c) MaryAnn A
You’ll probably never see these non-stinging little wasps. As Daphne tells us, there’s no reason to treat. We have them every year and they don’t harm the trees.  This year was just insect-crazy, so they’ve become especially noticeable.  Thank you, Danielle & MaryAnn, for sending us your pictures!

Soon, I expect to see some yellow in my garden. I have high hopes that my young Skeleton-leaf goldeneye will look like this!

Skeleton-leaf goldeneye austin texas
This native, evergreen drought-tough perennial is Daphne’s pick of the week. Its flowers from late spring to frost attract many beneficial pollinators, like this tiny wasp.

Skeleton-leaf goldeneye daisy with tiny wasp
It requires sun and good drainage, so in my clay soil garden, I amended with compost and decomposed granite.

Our first gentle cold front reminds us that soon we’ll need to snag some of our cold-tender herbs to dry or freeze. So, this week, Trisha shows how to dry herbs in any season (including our evergreens) for homegrown flavor and tastefully beautiful gifts. Get her tips for your files.

Dried herbs cute
Next week, get her tips for freezing herbs, like basil, that don’t stand up well to drying.

Now that I’ve tidied up and revised my plant list, I’ll be hitting the nurseries soon. I respect a tag with Gabriel Valley Farms’ name on it.

Gabriel Valley Farms
On tour, we visit this innovative wholesale grower near Georgetown to see how Cathy and Sam Slaughter grow tried and true Texas plants organically, starting from seed.

The KLRU crew with Ed Carter and Chris Kim had a blast! Here’s director Ed Fuentes documenting the babies that will head to nurseries and your gardens when they’re grown up! If you grow seeds in a few pots or flats, imagine planting thousands!

Gabriel Valley Farms Ed Fuentes camera operator

Cathy and Sam also share their tricks to fool seedlings to germinate when it’s too hot or too cold to plant, and why it’s important to get organically grown plants when possible.

Keyhole gardens are the hot topic this year! Tom meets with Deb Tolman to explain why these sustainable vessels are perfect to grow vegetables, fruit trees or ornamentals.

Tom Spencer and Deb Tolman Central Texas Gardener
Deb explains how to do it for abundant crops, even in small spaces and in thin or dense soils where it’s difficult to grow food. Along with saving water, keyhole gardens are the ultimate design to recycle/reuse cardboard, phone books, newspapers and kitchen vegetable scraps.

Keyhole garden plan (c) Ted Miears

Keyhole garden design (c) Deb Tolman

Keyhole garden cardboard (c) Deb Tolman

Keyhole garden design (c) Ted Miears

Find out more on Deb’s website and get her DVD, shot by videographer Ted Miear, which documents the entire process that you can do in one afternoon!  I thank Ted for his support on this segment. Long ago, he was a KLRU freelancer, who went on to launch his own video production company.

Finally, the garden events are gearing up, but here’s one for the whole family! From Sept. 22 – Nov. 18, head out to Barton Hills Farm in Bastrop for a corn maze, live music and more. Family fall fun, for sure!

Happy planning and planting until I see you next week!  Linda

Garden cheers|Sharon Lovejoy|When to move a plant|Basil preserve

What cheery days, at last! ‘Butterpat’ chrysanthemum just couldn’t wait to say “welcome back!”

Chrysanthemum 'Butterpat'
Salvia regla echoes its thrill for days that don’t scorch our souls.

Salvia regla Central Texas Gardener
Plant this native fall-blooming perennial around your trees for some leaf canopy fireworks, especially if you like hummingbirds.

The bees love native Frostweed (Verbesina virginica). I planted it, too, because I was told its flowers are one of the few whites that attract butterflies.

Frostweed flower Central Texas Gardener
But get this, the primrose jasmine is also on a roll, like the Bradford pears and redbuds that have pushed up the calendar.

Primrose jasmine blooming in November Central Texas Gardener
I’ve been planting like a fiend, since any rain will stick around in the soil a bit longer. (And thank you for Tuesday’s blessing to soak in the newbies). New plants don’t punk out so fast when it’s not 105°, either.

I carry my list around with me, but LOVE it when I run head first into new inspiration, like this “little leaf” or dwarf Jerusalem sage (Phlomis lanata) on my excursion to Reid’s Nursery. It is doggoned cute; I had to have a couple.

Phlomis lanata, Central Texas Gardener

I also planted more ‘Helen von Stein’ lamb’s ears. These days the tag calls it ‘Big Ears.’

Helen von Stein lamb's ears, Central Texas Gardener

These are great fuzzy wuzzy plants for kids, which ta da, leads to Tom’s fabulosa meeting with author Sharon Lovejoy this week.

Tom Spencer and Sharon Lovejoy, Central Texas Gardener
I bet you already have all her books, but the latest is Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. Sharon’s geared it for grandma fun, but young parents and non-parents like me can have crazy fun with this book! It’s full of activities, recipes, and adventures for any age.

Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars, Sharon Lovejoy
With her own illustrations (multi-talented one that she is) Sharon’s got lots of ideas for indoor games and crafting memories that last a lifetime. But on CTG, she sparks childhood imagination and connections to life outdoors. Isn’t that a great gift to give to the next generation?

Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars, Sharon Lovejoy

Bird Calls, Toad Cottages & Shooting StarsToad Cottages & Shooting Stars
Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars
And check out the section on straw bale gardens, perfect for those rocky soil spots.

Straw bale gardens, Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars

Here’s a  picture that Sharon and Jeff nabbed at the Sunset magazine exhibit at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.

Straw bale gardens, Sharon Lovejoy
But let’s not forget another kiddie fave: pizza! On CTG day, Jeff Prostovich quickly crafted this solar oven from a pizza box.

Pizza box solar oven, Sharon Lovejoy
Jeff’s a multi-talented person himself. Although he’s usually behind the scenes, he’s really on the scene for everything, between his “day gig.” Thank you, dear Sharon & Jeff for joining us again at CTG!

Daphne’s pick of the week is snapdragons, a favorite for children to snap their “dragon”  mouths.

Bee on snapdragon, Central Texas Gardener

But they’re also favored by gardeners for cool-weather color. When I took pictures at Shoal Creek Nursery, the bees reminded me that it was a winter nectar source for them, too. So, last weekend, I got some dwarf yellow for the front walk.

Dwarf yellow snapdragon, Central Texas Garden
I picked taller, spicy ‘Crimson Sonnet’ for the crape bed. I don’t like to plant them until we’re not seeing too many days of high 80’s. Now’s the perfect time to add some snap to your garden!

Boy howdy, I’ve been moving plants around. This week, Daphne answers Ramona Rogahn’s great question: when to move a rose?

Moving plants, Central Texas Gardener
This past summer and hot fall, our nurturing instinct prompted us to want to move stressed or poorly sited plants to less anxious spots. But, as Daphne explains, hot weather–especially when a plant is stressed–is the worst time to move them. Instead, wait until cooler weather and the plants are dormant to make your moves.

In these dry times, be sure to water the plant and its new location several days in advance. Dig your new hole. You may need to make adjustments, but get the hard digging out of the way. It’s also good to take a shovel around your plant a month or even two months before you move it. This will sever some roots and encourage new top ones to grow to help it establish more quickly in its new location. If you can’t do that (and honestly, I’m never that prepared!), be sure to scrabble around and get as much of the root ball as you can. Moist soil really helps for the digging, and to have the plant well hydrated to reduce a freak out moment. Do not fertilize your new transplants. I give them water, liquid seaweed, and mulch.

Well, chippy weather is on the way, which means basil is about to say farewell. Perennials like Mexican mint marigold will brown to the ground in the first freeze. This week, we repeat Trisha Shirey’s tips for preserving and drying herbs to keep the herbal handshake all winter. And how cool would it be to for the child in your life to make holiday oils, vinegars and cat treats from the garden?

On tour, we head to the Casis Elementary vegetable garden, where teachers, parents, and students collaborate in an organic vegetable garden for hands-on lessons in sustainability, math, science, art, and plain good eating!

Until next week, Linda

Cultivating ideas, fall vegetables, first Garden Pet of Week!

Congratulations to Mojito, our first Maude & Augie Doggie’s Garden Pet of the Week! This Maine Coon is the proud owner of Tina & David Poe.

Mojito CTG Pet of the Week Tina and David Poe

While supervising them in the garden, he chews on lemongrass (which has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties). For dessert, he favors catnip. Thanks, Tina, David & Mojito!

Garden Pet of the Week can be any beloved creature in your garden, so send on your high-resolution pictures and a brief description of your little friend to llehmusvirta@klru.org.

Even though most of my plants will make it through the drought, I’ve got a lot of planning and updating to do. Translation: WORK!  One thing is to create larger areas of hardscape, especially pathways. I’ve been analyzing every option “under the sun,” dare I say?  On the Windsor Park Garden Tour in May, I took a few pictures of some ideas.

Leuters stone pathway

Front yard fountain Central Texas Gardener

Patio arbor and path design

And even though it’s sweaty, it’s really time to plan the fall vegetable garden, so when cool weather comes, we’re ready to go for it! Bruce Leander’s picture on the cover of the July/August Texas Gardener magazine to illustrate Patty Leander’s story is enough to jumpstart even the weariest summer warrior.

Texas Gardener magazine

This week on CTG, Master Gardener Patty Leander joins Tom for tips to transition from summer crops to winter’s harvests.

Travis County Master Gardener Patty Leander

Fall is really our easiest time to grow all kinds of goodies without SWEARING a lot!

Peas Patty and Bruce Leander

Swiss chard  Patty and Bruce Leander

You never need to eat grocery store lettuce in cool months, since it’s so easy to grow your own artistic and yummy presentation.

Since it will still be hot when we get started, check out Patty’s creative ways to shade young plants and seedlings.  These are great ideas for young ornamentals, too.

Shading new plants with umbrellas

You can also use a 30% shading cloth.

Shade cloth for vegetables Patty and Bruce Leander

Patty also has tips to start cooling down the soil now with thick layers of mulch (preferably shredded leaves, dried grass, partially decomposed compost, not bark chips). As we get closer, cool down with burlap or other material, and/or water really well  for several days in advance to wet the soil down deep and cool it.

Tom Spencer and Patty Leander on Central Texas Gardener

Get her monthly tips and those of other Master Gardeners in their incredible monthly newsletter, Compost Bin!

Meet Patty in person and find out even more at the Travis County Master Gardeners Fall Vegetable workshop on August 6 from 10 a.m. – noon. This free class will be held at Zilker Botanical Garden.

Get planting guides, month-by-month lists, and lots more in the Travis County Master Gardener’s Garden Guide for Austin and Vicinity, just $14.95, available at these locations.

Travis County Master Gardeners Garden Guide

Online, check out Central Texas Horticulture, the Travis County site of Texas AgriLife Extension, for vegetable planting guides and varieties, plus a wheelbarrow-full of other great information!    At Aggie Horticulture, connect to the Extension site in your county, along with other resources.

And, if you’ve been looking for the perfect organic water sprayer to fend off spider mites, aphids, and the succulent pests that Entomologist Wizzie Brown features next week, check out the MiteYFine sprayer!

MiteYFine garden water sprayer

For years, Patty’s been asking her engineer brother to come up with just the right device for a high-power, focused blast of water to quickly drown those pests and get them off her plants. Her brother’s wife  jumped in with product development. Wizzie attests to its great success!

MiteYFine garden water sprayer

Now that’s a mighty fine thing! I think I’m sending Patty’s brother a list of tools I’d like to see but am certainly not creative enough to build!

Daphne and Augie Doggie answer: What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Daphne Richards and Augie doggie Central Texas Gardener

As she notes, “It depends on who you ask.  A cook’s definition will differ from a botanist’s.  In cooking terms, generally, a fruit is sweet and a vegetable is not.  So to a chef, a tomato’s a vegetable.” (Thanks to Sara Robertson for all these yummy homegrown fruits!)

Tomatoes Central Texas Gardener from Sara Robertson

“But, to a botanist, a fruit is a ripened ovary and any accessory tissue surrounding it. So a tomato is a fruit, like an orange or a pepper. Then, when you talk to a horticulturist, a vegetable is an herbaceous plant cultivated for an edible purpose, so in that case tomato goes back to being a vegetable!”

To a botanist, a vegetable is a plant that is edible for its leaves, stems or roots, including beets, carrots, lettuce, asparagus, leeks, and potatoes.  Whatever they are, they’re good for you!

On tour, we repeat our segment with Dorsey Barger, co-owner of Eastside Cafe with Elaine Martin, for super ideas with containers and how she rotates crops in limited space.  With cinder blocks, stock tanks, and salvaged materials, she creates many garden options without a bunch of tools or a bunch of cash.

John Dromgoole demonstrates how to get your seeds off to a good start. Some benefit from overnight soaking for easiest germination.

John Dromgoole plants vegetable seeds

Soaking vegetable seeds before planting

Another event to check out! Head to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 24 to honor Lady Bird Johnson. This is a free-admission day filled with family activities, including the children’s play, “Wildflowers,” songs by singing zoologist Lucas Miller, artist Catherine Flowers, and a book signing byJeannette Larson, author of “Hummingbirds: Fact and Folklore from the Americas.” And lots more, to honor the woman who did so much to change our perspective.

PLUS! If you’ve wanted to meet Sharon Lovejoy, author of many books and magazine articles, here is your chance! She’ll be in Austin next week for presentations and book signings for Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars: Grandma’s Bag of Tricks. But this isn’t  just for grandmas; it’s for new families and for every gardener who needs a little boost to just go out there and have fun! On July 25, she’ll be at Book People from 4-6 p.m. On July 26, she’s giving a lecture sponsored by The Natural Gardener. The lecture will be held off-site (with reception and book signing at NG later). The lecture is an RSVP, so click here for details.

Until next week, Linda