Texas Gardening forum: I WILL someday have a garden!

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Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Feb 24, 2014 1:40 PM CST
I have lived in zone 8 in TX for 9 years now and planted something every year. I'm lucky if I get a tomato per plant, and they are not tasty.
2005 - planted seeds in what was a semi bare area that my sprinkler covered, weeds grew, no crops
2006 - put a few tomato's in pots which the chickens ate down to the stems
2007 - put wire cages around pots, plants grew, only few tomatoes which took till Oct to ripen
2008 - had my soil tested, found out my mostly sandy soil has few nutrients. Added fertilizer to potting soil. Same results.
2009 - rototilled a small area for melons, chickens ate every one.
2010 - covered each melon with newspaper to hide them from the chickens. They never ripened.
2011 - created 4 8' x 8' garden patch with boards, covered with netting. Melons didn't get ripe.
2012 - planted corn in a 10' x10' patch. Got 1 ear.
2013 - decided to build a 20' x40' cage with chicken wire. Dug in tractor loads of all kind of manure to over winter. My beans, squash, were somewhat successful, tomatoes grew huge plants
with no fruit. Had soil tested again, no nitrogen or iron, too much phosphorus. PH 7.8
2014 - spent half of winter adding lime to soil stupidly thinking lime was acidic, the last half of winter trying to correct it with kitchen compost of citrus, and sulfur. Started seedings in seed trays, on heaters, with lights. The tomatoes and squash have been transplanted twice to bigger, taller pots, and are now 12" tall again. Transplanted anything that could take a little cold yesterday. Lettuce, broccoli, spinach, celery. Leafeating ants eating everything one plant at a time. Sprayed with organic soap, vinegar, oil spray. Hurry up spring! Somebody wish me luck, please.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Feb 24, 2014 1:53 PM CST

Moderator

Welcome to Texas Gardening! Could we have been separated at birth??? I can grow most plants, but vegetables are mystifying and frustrating for me. I'm sure someone will come in here and tel you what you need to know to successfully
grow tomatoes. Me? I bought some patio tomato plants from the FFA club at one of the high schools. We're on limestone, and I've given up on having a veggie garden in the ground. I buy a truck load of compost every spring. I think it just seeps into the limestone crevices every summer!

How about trying raised beds? Maybe just one to start with.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Feb 24, 2014 2:47 PM CST
Yep, raised bed(s) is the answer. Just be sure to have it high enough so that you have at least 12" of rich, organic, soil above the natural soil-line. Personally, I would shoot for a 16" depth. Most vegetables and herbs are referred to as "shallow-rooted" plants. For deep-rooted vegetables such as potatoes (both Irish and sweet), some, but not all radishes, most carrots, and some but not all onions, I would go for 20" (or more) depth. All things being equal, the deeper the "good" soil the better.

Thumb of 2014-02-24/drdawg/a78316

You can even build a raised bed on top of a raised bed, as this picture shows, using 1x6" to 2-12" treated lumber. This gives additional depth without having the entire bed so deep. This bed-on-bed is also useful if your raised bed is in an area that does not drain well or is in a valley, holding water too long. This picture was taken in late summer and you see asparagus, sweet potatoes, peppers, onions and gourmet garlic. The bed-on-beds are used for the garlic, since this entire (primary) raised bed was built at the bottom of a slope. I wanted to increase the drainage.

drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 25, 2014 7:14 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I agree

There's some good advice here.

I want to share a photo of a raised bed shape that I've started building.

Thumb of 2014-02-25/dave/885d7b

That's 10' by 10' with a 2'x5' pathway inside it. I built the entire bed using 5 2x10x10 boards. It's filled with half "dirt" and half compost. These will grow whatever we want and will do it well.

As for the chickens, we have in the past had the same problem with our chickens destroying our hard work. It's the primary reason why I no longer allow the chickens to free range.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Feb 25, 2014 10:42 AM CST
I was at the Athens talk you did, @Dave, and learned a lot. I wish i could have recorded those funny things you said at the first part of the speech. I wanted to share them with Dean, but now can't remember them. We had chickens hiding and hatching chicks everywhere, so we put the 60 hens in a pen we made. The 60 or so roosters we left out for the fox who was getting 1 - 2 chickens a day. The fox left. Guess he doesn't eat the tough roosters either. Anyway, we built a garden cage to keep out EVERYTHING except the bees. (And insects, unfortunately) Its really redneck looking as I made many bad choices with building materials, but I'm sending a picture anyway. As you can see, after last summer having everything cook in the garden, I added a shade cloth to the western side. Every year
there's a new problem to solve.
Thumb of 2014-02-25/texaskitty111/1cddb0

Rolling on the floor laughing

Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
[Last edited by texaskitty111 - Feb 25, 2014 6:26 PM (+)]
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Northeast Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas
MuddyKnees
Feb 25, 2014 6:16 PM CST
Texas gardening is a challenge!
After dealing with poor soil, deer and rabbits, my DH and I are building a fenced raised garden with a walkway through it.
I have found compost at a good price from a nearby city. What should I add to the compost to fill the beds? The beds are 16" deep so the cheaper, the better.
Thanks for any suggestions!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 25, 2014 6:56 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

For super deep beds I like to put wood in first and top it up with compost, soil and layers of other organic matter.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/dave/41/Building-a-Hugelkultur-...
Northeast Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas
MuddyKnees
Feb 26, 2014 2:08 PM CST
Thanks Dave for the link! I am intrigued by the hugelkultur method, but I'm afraid I don't have time for this garden. This is my only spot for veggies and I just can't skip a year of homegrown tomatoes Smiling
I'm thinking I could start with newspapers and leaves then mix topsoil with the compost.
Any other thoughts on what to add or ratio of topsoil to compost?
Anyone know a good source for topsoil in northeast Texas?
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 26, 2014 5:27 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I think that's an excellent idea. I would definitely use cardboard instead of newspaper, though.

As for topsoil, I don't know a source. The yellow pages would be the place for that. Smiling
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Feb 26, 2014 5:31 PM CST
If you have a county Co-op, they would have good quality topsoil. They would also have what's called "Planters-mix", a combination of soil and compost. It makes an excellent foundation for any planting.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Northeast Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas
MuddyKnees
Feb 26, 2014 5:55 PM CST
Thanks for your replies!
I don't know about a county co-op, but I will use the phone book and make a few calls :-)
Thanks again!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 26, 2014 6:05 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

You might also consider getting a delivery of a load of compost from your city or area composting facilities. These are getting more and more common and we have one in our area. Often they incorporate "bio-solids" and that may be objectionable to some but if you get past that, you can get some tremendously valuable compost for a very reasonable price.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Mar 4, 2014 8:17 PM CST
I've never heard of a composting facility in my county. Guess maybe they probably can't afford it.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Mar 4, 2014 8:41 PM CST

Moderator

We have one at the "dump" and at the city facility. At the dump, they use everything that the trucks pick up. That includes dead animals on the side of the road. If you can get past that and wear gloves when you spread it, it is very good compost.
The "dump," or waste disposal facility does charge a nominal fee. The city facility doesn't charge.

We also have a spot at the botanical garden that shreds Xmas trees each year. You can back up to the pile and load as much as you can carry, but it needs to mellow before using it.
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Aug 13, 2014 9:54 AM CST
I built the above mentioned garden cage to keep out chickens, guinea, crows, rabbits, etc. But, since the cats can't get in either, it has unexpected advantages. I now have hundreds of many varieties of lizards, to eat the bugs. I read on the internet that they hide under piles of leaves in the winters, so I plan to add lots of them this fall, and put covers over them to keep them dry. Maybe next summer, I won't have any bugs! I'm assuming the lizards will multiply till the bugs are gone.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder Cat Lover Butterflies Birds
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LindaTX8
Aug 13, 2014 12:41 PM CST
Ah, yes, but what would the lizards eat once the bugs are gone? We actually did have the experience of all but one species of insect had all gone one summer, but the lizards were also gone. That was the worst summer of the drought!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
Image
texaskitty111
Aug 13, 2014 1:21 PM CST
I think most would crawl away to better pastures. They're not trapped here. And come back, if things looked better inside.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Aug 16, 2014 11:06 AM CST
Update on second season plants:

I cut back two of my 10 heirloom tomatoes vines a month ago, and they are now dead.

The tomato plants set out in March, and were not cut back, are continuing to grow, and have no tomatoes, just a few blossoms on 20' plants.

The second session tomatoes and green beans put out in June are now setting fruit.

I even have a tigerella tomato from whitinger seeds! Very interested in those plants as they do well in Texas.

Waiting to see if march tomatoes ever produce on those huge plants, if not next year will plant determinates and pull them up in June.


Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Aug 16, 2014 11:21 AM CST
@texaskitty111 The (2 each) tomato plants and pepper plants I put in this spring have either not produced, or only produced a couple--until now. Blossoms and fruits all over. Thinking I might have tomatoes and peppers going into October if I'm lucky. Will try seeds next year. Be interested to know the total output of the Tigerella once it reaches the pull-point.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: tk
murchison texas (Zone 8a)

Tomato Heads
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texaskitty111
Aug 16, 2014 11:35 AM CST
Will do! Also I have red franchi pear, and Kelloggs breakfast. No tomatoes yet on them. They look healthy however.
Cauliflower is just a cabbage with a college education (mark twain)

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