What do you love about gardening in Lake Texoma?
Do you have a plant, flower, or vegetable garden?
Did you build a pond and water fountain?
Do you compost or harvest rain water?
What do you love to grow?
There are so many opportunities to grow all kinds of gardens in Texoma with many free resources and classes to take. Right now, it is time to plant onions and garlic. Our publisher, Cassidy Lackey, here at LakeTexoma.com calls himself a bit of a hobby farmer, but I would say Cassidy gardens quite a bit more than a hobbyist judging by the pictures posted on his Southlake Family Farm Facebook page. He is also a bunny and chicken rancher. Please check out this video on Cassidy's Facebook farm page about maximizing food production, energy sources, and much more, but be sure to read its comments for unbiased viewpoints: http://schoolofpermaculture.com/traditional-landscape-design-vs-permaculture-landscape-design/#.WEdldOYrK01.
Phyllis Driver-Dawdy of Sherman grew up learning how to garden from her grandmother, who was the president of the Dallas Garden Club for many years. Phyllis remembers the heavenly smells and the feelings of joy she experienced while playing in her grandmother’s stunning garden. She has tried to duplicate her childhood memories as an adult. It is quite an accomplishment that has taken her several years. My interview with Phyllis gives you some great ideas and advice.
(Please see the pictures below this article from Cassidy and Phyllis)
How did you make your garden look so lovely?
Phyllis: Like every gardener, you learn what works and what doesn't. I don't want to know how much money I've spent finding this out.
Do you prefer to grow native plants?
Phyllis: Absolutely! We used to be limited on the plants we can grow here in Texas. But through the years they have improved so many plants that can now withstand our Texas heat. So the choices of native plants that we can pick from is really impressive.
Do you have a vegetable garden?
Phyllis: Of course. After the flood two years ago and the almost-flood last year, I decided to do raised beds for my vegetables. I wish I had done this years ago. It has made my life much easier. I grow asparagus, onions, different squashes, peppers, beets, radishes, beans, greens, peas, and okra. I also have a herb garden with rosemary, thyme, basil, sages, chives, garlic, mints, and horseradish.
How much time do you spend on your garden weekly?
Phyllis: I work in my yard and garden almost every day. Not because I have to; I want to. I just enjoy it. It's my Therapy (and Nautilus-work out). I lose all sense of time while I'm digging in the dirt.
How much water does it take for a garden like yours?
Phyllis: There's nothing better than rain water, which I try to collect and use. I don't have a sprinkler system. When Mother Nature isn't helping, I rotate my yard watering so that it gets a good soaking weekly (especially in the hot summer). My flowers vary. Some like more than others. But I'd say a couple of times a week. Yes, it takes about $15 to $20 extra per month in the summer but all hobbies and passions are an extra expense.
What gardening publications do you pay attention to, either on the web, books, or magazines?
Phyllis: I like the gardening sections of the weekly newspapers. It has valuable info on current situations with issues affecting our yards and gardens. I also browse the web and read gardening articles in various magazines. I have a library of books that I still refer to as well.
Do you receive comments on your garden?
Phyllis: I had a yard sale a couple of years ago, and a gentleman walked up and said, "Wow, you have a face." I thought that was kind of a weird thing to say but I said, "Yes.” And he said, "Well, I wasn't sure because all I ever see is your butt bent over in your yard!" I found out that I'm known as the yard lady. Hey, I'm flattered. I’ve been called worse . . .
What advice would you give to people just beginning to garden in Texoma?
Phyllis: Patience and baby steps. Everyone wants instant beauty. But it doesn't work that way. They buy all kinds of plants and then get them planted. They either die because of too much sun or not enough sun. Or they've planted something that doesn't need much water next to something that needs a lot of water. Or it just won't grow in our heat or soil. Or they plant everything and it just doesn't look like what they thought it would look like all together.
There could be many reasons. So . . .don't break the bank. Start with your backdrop. Make sure the plants are doing well and you like it. Then add to that and see if it's going to do well there. Then keep adding. You may move some plants two or three times before you get the results that you’re looking for. But do it all in baby steps. You will save yourself a lot of heartache, backache, and money.
What do you grow in your garden?
Phyllis: My yard is lined and layered with various shrubs and ground covers. Everything from dark green ligustrum, variegated pittosporum, hollies, privets, fire nandina, and cherry blast loropetalum, and liriope ground cover as well as mondo grasses. Of course, I have perennial flowers here and there for color that never fail with their beautiful colors each year, like enchinacea, mexican zinnias, purple heart, peoni's, lantana, and chrysanthemums. That's just a few. And, I always like to plant some annuals like periwinkles, zinnias, cosmos, and rose moss for an added punch of color that I can change each year.
What tips can you give us today?
Phyllis: If you have a really large pot to fill with potting soil. Place empty water bottles or turn some unused pots upside down and put them in the bottom of the pot. It will save on the amount of potting soil you will need. And it helps with drainage.
The best tip I always tell people is that when you get your shrubs, flowers, or vegetables planted, place heavy cardboard or layers of newspapers around your plants. You can cut the cardboard or papers any shape you want. Place them around your plant, wet it and put mulch on top. It will hold the moisture much longer, it's biodegradable (you will want to repeat this yearly), and you’re being green by recycling. It's great for your soil and best of all...you will never have to weed! Nothing will grow through cardboard or paper.
Moving On . . .
I had an opportunity to visit only one Texoma nursery in Denison Wednesday, and I stopped in at Twin Oaks Nursery which is family-owned and spoke with Linda Taube. Twin Oaks hosts free Spring Seminars every Saturday from Feb. 18th to April 22nd at 11 a.m. Their seminars cover a wide range of gardening concerns.
Twin Oaks Nursery will teach you how to grow many varieties of plants, plan urban veggie beds, about bee keeping, give you weed and pest information, about native landscaping plants, and they even host a day of Wine and Roses, plus they have drawings for free plants and products. Call your local nursery and see what they have in store for you this spring because this is the time that you will find good prices and special deals.
Years ago, before the internet arrived, Texas County Agricultural Extension offices printed out information specific to each county on the recommended varieties of crops, vegetables, plants, and trees for that county. Now, you can go to this address and select any plant by your region or county: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/. You can choose from the categories of fruit and nuts, vegetables, landscaping, ornamental horticulture, small acreage crops, and earth-kind landscaping. Texas A&M conducts all of the research and posts the agricultural information.
It is the same for Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension offices and OSU. Their websites list Oklahoma proven seed varieties. The site to begin searching for Oklahoma counties is osufacts.okstate.edu, and then put the plant or topic of gardening that you want to know about in the search box on the top right of the screen.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service also has online courses that are free or affordable and extremely valuable: http://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/programs/agrilife-extension-online-courses/. For example, the Septic Care System for Homeowners class costs $30, and the Climate Science course is free.
If you know of someone who does not have internet access but needs information, just call your county ag extension agent in both states, and they will be happy to give you information or print it off their extensive website resources.
Please send us pictures of your garden wonders. Please post them here and/or at the LakeTexoma.com Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/laketexoma.