Another drought & I’m out.

I told Jason after 2011 that if we ever go through that again, I am leaving Texas.

Well, here we are eleven years on and it’s looking pretty 2011-ish. While we did have a few heavy rain events this spring, it wasn’t enough overall. We are only considered “abnormally dry” according to the U.S. drought monitor, but everyone in Texas knows when June hits, the tap turns off unless you get a hurricane or tropical storm. And to add insult to injury, our temps have already hit 100 and remain in the high 90s, so I am calling this month Jaugust. And I’m sure next month will be Juaugust, then August, then Saugust.

So that’s why I am going to go back in time to our winter/early spring garden, in far less crispy times. I think we had a nice fall/winter garden and I hope you will enjoy the mini-tour.

I find that fall and winter gardens are easy to do for our area, with the occasional annoyance of having to cover your plants during freezing temps.

January/February tend to be our coldest months. It would be best to plant in mid to late September, but as I said before that’s the month I call Saugust and my least favorite because it’s still hot and soooooo dry. Honestly, who wants to plant in hot dust? Not I. So I usually end up waiting until mid-October when we get some rain.

So below is a pic from December, when I had my beds wrapped and Team Cilantro was in full force. It reseeds itself yearly, so I let it do its thing. The cabbages are Bonnie’s Best hybrid that were transplants. You can see that some cabbage worms made small holes, but these are quickly taken care of with a Bt spray. I use the Monterey brand and I had the RTU (ready-to-use) kind. I won’t be without this spray! It kept my kale happy and worm-free from spring through the next spring.

The next pic is of some more cabbages, carrots, and one of our very favorites: kohlrabi. If you like broccoli and cabbage, you will love kohlrabi. Even if you don’t like broccoli or cabbage, give it a try. It is milder that either of those two and is SO GOOD just steamed until tender. I don’t even add salt. But definitely peel it unless you enjoy chewing on twigs/shoe leather.

Cabbages, carrots, kohlrabi

Now I love this kale! It is called Black Magic. It just produced seed this month (June; and it’s in its second year now) and it tastes great! I use it in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, salads, smoothies…anywhere you can stick it. Just cut out the rib and slice it thin to use. Trust me, it hides easily in everything and has a great taste. We also roast it sometimes, and yes, it makes great kale chips, too, if you enjoy those.

Broccoli! We love it. This broccoli is looking a little sad and wilted because it had been covered and when I took off the cover, the humidity it was used to dropped rapidly. I ended up re-covering it slightly to help it. I got these as transplants and I think it’s Lieutenant. I used to use Packman and they did away with that. Then Green Magic and they switched again. I also had Artwork, but I haven’t found that in a couple of years. This is why it’s so important to know how to grow your own! Growers aren’t always going to have what you want.

Admittedly, I am proud of the following cabbage. It’s some of the first I have grown from seed. This is an heirloom called Red Acre. The heads ended up being nice and dense and very tasty.

Snow peas….I babied these peas. I planted them too late in October, and they grew and grew and grew and I covered, uncovered, and re-covered about 10 times. You can see I even added some Christmas lights/party lights to keep them warmer while under cover. They survived all of the frosts and cold, but ultimately died due to a fungal infection in mid-spring. I did get some pea pods, but it wasn’t worth the hassle. So this fall, I’ll plant earlier and hope for a late fall harvest.

Peas n’ Strawberries. My strawberries got very confused with the very mild winter and produced like crazy. The bad part is that they were mealy and weren’t good over the winter months. If they did this again, I will definitely pinch off all blooms and let the roots/plant grow instead. By this spring, they were tasty. Here in East Texas, you really are supposed to plant your June-bearing strawbs in fall. But good luck finding plants! I had these overwinter and reproduce like mad, so I planted the babies EVERYWHERE. And this year I found a variety that tastes way better: Seascape. Now we are only supposed to plant June bearing strawbs, but these are considered “everbearing”. Whatever. I am going with this to see how it turns out. The berries are bigger and far tastier than these other ones, which I THINK are Allstar.

A December harvest: It’s scant, but it’s food. We enjoy eating the leaves of broccoli as well as the stalks; just peel ’em! No reason to let either go to waste. Throw the thinly cut leaves into a stir-fry or a soup. Also, you do know that broccoli as we know it is the unopened flowers of the plant, right?

Thanks for taking a little detour with me today! Now it’s back to reality and back to dreaming of a well or a cistern for the garden…

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