Backyard Blogger Articles for Home Garden Food Crops

Backyard gardening can be taken to the next level when what you grow doesn't just look good, but tastes good too! Aside from being relaxing and fulfilling, consuming what you grow can not only put food on the table, but create a family tradition that you'll enjoy for years to come. Edible "add-ons' to the typical yard ...

Backyard Blogger

Looking for expert advice from someone like you but with years of experience doing what they love? Well look no further. LandscapeTexas.org has enlisted the expertise of a Texas lawn and garden blogger to pass along some tips and tricks that won't only solve some everyday headaches, but inspire you as well. Seasonal yard and...

Home Garden Food Crops


Eating Healthy:
Easy When You Grow Your Own!

Vegetable gardening is fun, relaxing and good exercise. With careful planning, Texas vegetable gardeners can have something growing nearly every month of the year, and with the fast-paced, high-tech, modern lifestyles we live, gardening provides a great way to slow down and unwind.

Get your plants in the ground as early as possible to give them time to acclimate to the warming weather and the growing season. Variety selection and proper planting time are critical for success.

Purchasing from local nurseries or starting transplants from seeds in your home are both great ways to get a head start on the growing season.

At least four to eight weeks can be cut from the time required between planting and harvesting or getting effective landscape color by setting vigorous transplants rather than seeds into the garden. If you choose to seed your garden, make sure you have adequate moisture, full sun to warm the soil and good seed and soil contact. 

Ideal spring vegetables include pole beans, summer squash, peas, potatoes, lettuce, eggplant, asparagus, corn, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, collards, endive, escarole, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mustard, okra, onions, parsley, peppers and tomatoes.

Gardening Tips

  • Spring plants should be put in the ground when the frost danger has passed.
  • Make sure you choose the right location. Plants should have room to grow, full sun, good air circulation and adequate drainage.
  • Prepare your beds. Determine soil type. Do you have clay, loam, sandy loam or sandy soil? Good compost and mulch can help conserve water and yield great results.

Get back to nature and dig down into some rich, Texas soil! Visit Aggie Horticulture for more gardening tips, or check with your local extension agent to find out what grows best in your region.

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Pick a Pomegranate

Say hello to a rising star on the Texas horizon - the pomegranate! Pomegranates have grown in Texas for centuries, but today new varieties make the fruit a logical choice for growers and gardeners around the state.

During the past two years, Texas producers have begun planting commercial pomegranate orchards, and to date an estimated 50 acres of pomegranates are planted in Texas. The largest plantings are currently three to five acres, or about 600-800 trees. Given the number of pomegranate cuttings now being rooted, the planted acreage in Texas is expected to double to 100 acres within the next one to two years. Pomegranates begin to yield marketable fruit after three years, so growers are now thinking ahead to marketing their Texas grown fruit.  

"Pomegranate is common to the tropics, subtropics and subtemperate regions and is well adapted to areas with hot, dry summers," said Richard De Los Santos, TDA marketing coordinator for horticulture, produce and forestry. "For best results, it should be grown in full sun."

Some types may survive typical winters in north central Texas, especially the ornamental types which produce only small fruit, if any. The fruiting types should survive most winters throughout south, central and southeast Texas planting regions.

The pomegranate tree is relatively small, usually around 12-16 feet tall and can live up to 100 years or more. It produces a thin-skinned fruit full of small seeds that are surrounded by sweet fruit that may be eaten on the spot or made into fresh juice. The pomegranate may also grow as a large shrub, and the mostly red-orange blossoms produced in the spring and early summers are vibrant and showy. Additionally, the health benefits of pomegranates include providing fiber for the digestive track, blood sugar regulation and supporting the vascular and inflammatory systems.

Soil and Selections
Pomegranate is well-adapted to practically any soil that has good internal drainage. If the intent is to grow it as a small tree, then adequate space for development should be provided. Otherwise, it is well suited to growing as a hedge or clump of shrubs.

Pruning and Training
The process must be started soon after planting to maintain a single trunk, otherwise offshoots will develop. Unless the grower acts to trim the branches so there is a tree-form, the bushy, free-growing shrub develops naturally.

Production, Maturity and Use
As seedlings, pomengranates may undergo severe fruit drop during the first couple years of production, but this will change as the plant emerges from its seedling juvenility.

Pomegranates have a great future in Texas as the crop typically thrives in hot, sunny and dry climates - climates that we Texans know a thing or two about.

Enjoy a pleasant pomegranate - from Texas! For more information about Texas pomegranates, visit www.pomegranateinformation.com/

Courtesy of Texas Department of Agriculture

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How to plant fruit trees in your garden or landscape from our Backyard Blogger

 


Texas Potatoes

Sometimes the best decisions are the smartest. Not only are potatoes fat free, cholesterol free and only 110 calories per serving, they have no cholesterol, no fat, but plenty of complex carbohydrates to fuel an active lifestyle. Plus, they are packed with nutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, fiber and vitamin B-6.

GO TEXAN member Pro-Health Smart Potatoes in Carrollton works to ensure their Texas potatoes are not only tasty, but extra clean, for consumers. By using a Pure Wash Cleaning SystemTM, there is no need to scrub or peel Pro-Health potatoes before eating.

"We invite you to try our potatoes to see and taste the difference," said Scottie Williams, sales representative with Pro-Health. "Our Texas Grown program, in association with GO TEXAN, is designed to help consumers identify and buy Texas Grown potatoes."

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Here are some delectable suggestions:

Russet Potatoes

Russets are light and fluffy when cooked, so they're perfect for preparing potato favorites like stuffed, baked and mashed.

Butter Russets Potatoes

Butter Russets combine the best attributes of the Russet and the Gold potato varieties. Their unique sweet, buttery flavor combined with the hearty skin of a Russet, make them perfect for baking, mashing, boiling, frying and roasting. 

Sierra Rose Potatoes

Sierra Rose Potatoes combine the best attributes of the Red and Gold potato varieties. Their vibrant red skin and buttery flavor make them perfect for grilling, adding to stews, or providing a richer taste to your potato salads.

"Pro-Health Smart Potatoes are grown for Texans by Texans," Williams said. "Buying Texas Grown potatoes helps keep the economy growing by keeping Texas dollars in Texas. We are proud of our reputation for quality and freshness, and we are proud to be Texas Grown."

For more information, visit www.pro-health.com/.

For recipes using Texas Potatoes, go here.


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Texas Winter Greens

Check your expiration dates and clean off a few shelves because Texas winter greens are moving into a refrigerator near you. From lettuce and cabbage to kale and turnip greens, this month's seasonal suggestion serves as a tasty foundation to salads, appetizers and sides.

According to USDA, Texas is a major producer of winter greens in the United States, with nearly 12,000 acres producing almost 300 million pounds of greens. Cabbage is the state's No. 1 winter green crop with 8,200 acres worth $46.1 million grown in 2008. Spinach is Texas' No. 2 greens crop with 1,200 acres yielding $3.4 million in 2008.

Even with the state's outstanding production numbers, Texans still consume much more than they grow. Each year, Texans eat more than 1.2 billion pounds of green leafy vegetables, nearly 50 pounds per person.

Nationally, Texas ranks in the top six producers of turnip greens (No. 3), spinach (No. 4), cabbage (No. 4), collard greens (No. 5), kale (No. 5) and mustard greens (No. 6).

To read more about Texas winter greens, go here.

For a delicious recipe using Texas greens, go here.

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Do you find yourself with lots of organic material from your yard and kitchen and wish it didn't all go to the dumpster? Check out a great video from our Backyard Blogger on how to affordably make an easy to build compost pile in your own backyard.

How to build an easy to make compost pile