Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing Peppermint in North Texas

Peppermint for Every Herb Garden

Of all of the plants in our garden, peppermint is one of the easiest to grow.  It seems happy with the simple life we have provided for it.  I realize that just because something grows well, it doesn't necessarily  mean that you want it in your garden, but mint is one of those things most people do want.  It attracts beneficial insects like bees with it's lovely flowers and deters some other less wanted ones - namely ants.   I know people who have trouble growing mint in our neck of the woods, but I find that with a little shade, mint will thrive.  The mint at our place gets morning shade and afternoon sun.  It will flourish in the spring and autumn when the temperatures are mild and hang in there during the summer and winter months.  With just a little planning, you can have fresh mint all year long!

In the prairie regions of Texas, peppermint appreciates dappled sun or partial shade.

Propagate Your Own Peppermint

Did you know that mint is one of the easiest plants to propagate?  Just take cuttings and stick them in water.  Be patient and change the water out every few days and in a week or two, your cuttings will have roots.  In the meantime, the mint cutting make a lovely addition to the kitchen and puts a fresh, spring smell in the air.  I have even direct sewed mint cuttings into a water retaining medium such as vermiculite and had it do just fine.  Nurse it along for a little while, making sure to keep the growing medium moist, and in a few months you will have more mint to plant outside, or keep inside in a pot for an attractive addition to the kitchen herb garden.

How to Use Peppermint:  Food and Medicine

Many people love to put fresh mint in their tea or just chew on it for the robust flavor.  You can add it to chocolate cookies or brownies for a refreshing taste surprise.  Mint is great in salads and as an herb used in cooking.  Here is a link to a few recipe ideas to get you started:

Did you know that mint also has some nice medicinal properties?  It can give your body a boost when you're fighting a cold and help settle an irritated stomach.  Follow the links below to learn how to use mint in ways other than just in your tea.,,20307175,00.html

Happy gardening!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Every Garden Needs Bees

Gardens need bees and bees love flowers.  Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?  In the past, this may have been true, but for the past ten years, bee populations in the United States and Europe have declined by roughly 30%.  Although not everyone agrees on the reason this is happening, everyone does agree that this is very alarming and could lead to big trouble for farmers who depend on these small insects to pollinate their crops. 

Some people believe pesticides are the problem and some countries are placing bans on the most likely culprits.  Neonicitinoids are one of the main classes of pesticide believed to be negatively affecting bee populations and these are, unfortunately, one of the most widely used.

This is just one more reason to consider organic gardening.  Without our bee friends, we're going to be in trouble!  What else can we do to encourage healthy bee colonies?  Plant flowers that bees love!  Here is a link to some of their favorites:

Beside filling your yard and garden with beautiful, fragrant, bee attracting flowers, also be aware of the type of habitats that they look for.  If you have something like this on your property, consider leaving it there.  If you notice that a colony of bees has taken up residence on your property and you don't want it there, instead of killing it off, call a local beekeeper to see if they will move it for you.  Here is some information on habitats and nests:

Together, we can keep these great pollinators, in our area and around the country, thriving!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Raised Bed Gardening Infographic

Look at this great infographic on raised beds!  It includes information on ideal bed sizes and soil mixtures.  While I loved my double dug beds, and have plans to build a hugelkultur mound in the future, transitioning to raised beds for most of my garden has really streamlined the soil building process.  The black clay that my soil is made up of is extremely rich in minerals, but an absolute bear to work with.  It's notorious for compacting back down.  Every year saw me tilling it back up.  The benefits of the double digging didn't last beyond 2 seasons.  Making the switch to raised beds has made it a lot easier to create healthy, humus rich soil that doesn't need to be plowed up every year.

Click to Enlarge Image

Build The Benefits of Raised Beds

Build The Benefits of Raised Beds
Infographic by CustomMade

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Garden Goings On

Now that the black gumbo has firmed up bit, we're in the garden running damage control (picking cracked tomatoes and such).  We're also spraying neem oil, fertilizing with fish emulsion, harvesting what's ripe, and scouting for a good location for the rabbit hutch.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Seasonal - Watering Trees in Summer

Watering my trees. This is a baby fig tree. When the weather gets relentless in Texoma, you've got to get a little creative about water. A small hole drilled into the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket ensures that each tree gets plenty of water. The hole is small for a slow release. I give my trees 10 gallons of water each week in this way.  The bricks are there so that husband and son don't mow them over (again).

Friday, June 6, 2014

Peach Picking - Jenkins Farm

We had a great time yesterday picking peaches at Jenkins Farm in Ravenna.  Due to our crazy winter, peach season is short this year, and farmer Claude Jenkins doesn't expect it to last much beyond this week.  Call first, and then hurry over there if you want peaches.  Blackberries will come later, and corn after that.  He has such a great operation over there.  Lots to take note of if you're a gardener or mini-farmer.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Herb Season

We are deep into herb season in Texoma! Here pictured is rosemary, orange mint, parsley, and cilantro. Cilantro and basil are probably going to seed on you.  Parsley older than one year is too. In my experience only parsley loses flavor when it seeds, and that's just the stalks that are actually flowering, so don't be shy to keep clipping and eating your fresh herbs!