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Winter Sowing: Winter vegetable gardening in central Texas

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Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 9, 2008
4:11 PM

Post #5770123

Anyone out there planting winter vegetable gardens in central Texas? I'd be interested to know what has worked for them. I live north of San Antonio. For me, Swiss Chard grows well in the winter. Frost does not kill it. There are just enough days of freezing to kill most things, which is a shame, since most other days are warm here, if not downright hot. I keep looking for easy ways to plant to keep things alive during the brief freezes. I'm thinking of planting some things under plastic bottles (with the bottoms cut out). Don't know if that will be enough protection. Any thoughts?
wacomac
Weatherford, TX
(Zone 7b)

November 9, 2008
5:46 PM

Post #5770424

I now live in Weatherford, but lived in Hewitt by Waco for 14 years. My fall or winter garden consisted of Tomatoes - I would pull up the plants just before a good freeze and hang them in the garage so the tomatoes could continue to grow and ripen, Cabbage, radishes -plant every 2 weeks, lettuce - plant every month, garlic, onions. As for south as you are, you probably could grow just about any cool weather crop you wanted.
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 9, 2008
7:34 PM

Post #5770797

Hanging tomatoes. Interesting!
I haven't been able to grow garlic. Maybe I should try lettuce, though. Onions grow well.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 10, 2008
4:09 PM

Post #5773922

Why have you had difficulty growing garlic? What was your success or failure?

Do you know your zone? I am not in central TX but thought garlic would do well all over. I planted mine in OCT. Got a bed started and will leave it in ground harvesting only what I need. I also do root crops. Radishes, carrots, onions and some cooler leaf lettuces too. There are many different cole crops that should do well for you.
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 10, 2008
4:43 PM

Post #5774060

Hi, I'm in 8b. It can get below 20 here. My guess about why my garlic dies is that my soil is very alkaline. If you are in East Tx, your soil is far more acidic.
Potagere

November 10, 2008
4:52 PM

Post #5774083

Kendalia, that's odd, because garlic LIKES alkaline soil and can grow in very alkaline conditions. Also, garlic seems to be one of those plants that "acclimates"; i.e., if replanted from saved bulbs each year, it adjusts to your garden to do better each time. My crop had gotten larger, with bigger cloves each year. And I live in the Jura on limestone soil! Try again?!?

Also, all the Asian green, like Pak Choy, Mizuna, Tat-soy, Komatsuna, as well as collards and other mustards (I love Ed Hume Seeds' "Tendergreen") should do well. Mine, planted about 3 weeks ago, are doing really well. So are my endives and my escaroles. But my lettuce is not so good. [I suspect, however, that the darn crows are stealing my baby lettuces!].
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 10, 2008
4:56 PM

Post #5774099

I was wondering why as there are garlic types that do better in warmer or colder climates. Wonder if maybe that caused the failure...
I am actually in 8a so the cold is not the problem in growing it.
Potagere

November 10, 2008
5:10 PM

Post #5774140

Garlic does need a period of cold to perform well. I'm slow. Just prepared the bed for it today. Will plant both garlic and shallots this week. Onions, too, if I can find sets.
I am growing a 5th generation of 'Germidor', and it does great here.
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 10, 2008
7:24 PM

Post #5774608

Interesting! It is useful to know it is not the alcalinity of the soil. Maybe I need more cold. If I plant some now I might get enough cold.
Bok choy grows well. I might plant some again.
To deter birds you may try some plastic bottles used as cloches?
Potagere

November 10, 2008
8:14 PM

Post #5774805

The crows seem to snatch the baby lettuces just after they come up and before they seem to be big enough to cover. But you just gave me an idea; I could cut some bottles lengthwise and put them over the row of seed. That should be good until the seedlings are big enough to thin.

Yes! Get your garlic in now!
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 10, 2008
8:14 PM

Post #5774808

Fall is the time to plant the garlic. Mine is just coming up now. It will grow thru winter and after the blooms and scapes die back, it will be harvested usually around May or June. If I recall, you want the softneck garlic to grow in the warmer climates. I also have multiplier onions just coming up right now as well as garlic chives and walking onions. The regular chives will get frostbit but will come back in springtime. LOL can you smell me from here? I really don't eat all that much of the Alliums. I love their appearance and ease of growing...
Potagere

November 10, 2008
8:18 PM

Post #5774820

I ran out of garlic between harvests this year, but last years shallots finished just as I was beginning to harvest this year's crop, which was even bigger! Meaning I can use more! And I got a great crop of garlic this year, so they just MIGHT last until next year's crop comes in. Unfortunately, this year' onion crop was nearly a complete failure; only good for eating "green"; not a thing to keep! Last year I had lots! Go figure!
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 10, 2008
8:43 PM

Post #5774887

I had similar bad luck with shallots last spring. Seems I should plant it now if I can find some.

Jim (if I may) next time you might put seeds in soil in the bottles with the bottoms cut off, and push the bottles into your soil. Then the seedlings can grow protected and you can leave them in there until they are a good size.

Crows I don't have. Instead I have rabbits, raccoons, possums, armadillos and all sorts of insects. Deer too, but they are fenced out.

Potagere

November 10, 2008
9:26 PM

Post #5775072

You can actually "fence out" deer? What kind do you have there? Legless?
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 10, 2008
9:28 PM

Post #5775088

Ha. My six foot fence keeps them out. They could jump it, but never do. (If they did, I'd put up an 8 foot fence!)
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 10, 2008
9:30 PM

Post #5775099

Podster, my chives never freeze here.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 10, 2008
10:35 PM

Post #5775387

My regular chives are potted and they do die down overwinter for me. The garlic chives are just starting new growth and do well all winter, dying back in the spring. Mine might be a different variety.

We've about an acre under fence and the deer are around but not in... of course a pair of dogs and a pack of viscious snarling house cats may be the reason. LOL
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 12, 2008
12:36 AM

Post #5780020

Scary cats! I have about the same under fence.
The garlic I've planted are just cloves from storebought garlic. Could that be my problem? Wrong variety?
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 12, 2008
12:53 AM

Post #5780102

That could likely be the case. The hardneck variety does well in colder climates and stores well. The softneck can remain in ground year around, harvesting as needed. There are many old beds of this garlic growing around this area.
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 13, 2008
12:29 AM

Post #5784182

Podster, I'd offer to trade for some of the "softneck" variety, but I don't see anything in your "want list." If you get a moment, check out my "have" list, and see if I have anything you want.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 14, 2008
1:32 PM

Post #5789724

Kendalia ~ I just relocated this thread... you now have dmail. pod
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

November 16, 2008
3:15 PM

Post #5797123

I'm Ark.zone 8 just about 20 miles or so from Tx. border. I started growing year round 3 yrs ago. Things I'm not sure of,I cover w/ my tomato baskets opened out and covered w/ remnants of geenhouse film...although clear painters plastic will do...thickest mil you can get. Only last 1 seasons where as the greenhouse film I'm using last 4 yrs.

Peggy

Thumbnail by bigred
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 16, 2008
4:04 PM

Post #5797328

Hey, Red. Thanks for the idea. I've tried similar things here. Problem is that every so often I get winds of 30 or more mph. That makes any covering with fabrics a problem, unless I really nail it down, and then it is not easy to uncover, as I'd need to do when it get too warm.

But I'm determined. This time around I'm going to try homemade cloches.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 16, 2008
4:11 PM

Post #5797370

Tell us about your homemade cloches?
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 16, 2008
4:33 PM

Post #5797451

I'll use plastic liter water bottles with the bottoms cut out, and with soil and seeds inside. I'll push these firmly into the soil of my garden (with the cap side up). I already know that the wind will not blow them away. With the cap on loosely, moisture is retained very well, and watering infrequent. It ought to take a while for plants to fill the bottle, and then I can pull off the bottle. What I'm not sure of is whether this will keep certain things warm enough. But in really hard freezes I can cover the bottles with fabric, and the bottles themselves will protect the plants from being crushed. This will keep out pests, too. (I just googled 'cloche'; turns out lots of people use bottles as cloches.)

This message was edited Nov 16, 2008 10:35 AM

This message was edited Nov 16, 2008 10:36 AM

This message was edited Nov 16, 2008 10:45 AM
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

November 16, 2008
5:22 PM

Post #5797617

We have lots of wind here too. I allow for some extra plastic on the sides then use my cane poles use to make my teepees that I grow pole beans on,to roll up the extra on then pin the pole and plastic to the ground with big landscape staples...otherwise I'd be chasing plastic all winter and spring.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 16, 2008
5:56 PM

Post #5797744

That ought to work... if you keep the caps on at night, you may have to remove them during the sunshine part of the day or the delicate plants will scald.
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 16, 2008
6:06 PM

Post #5797781

I think so too. After plants are established I expect to cap the bottles only during freezes. I wonder what the French did when they used cloches. Theirs didn't have any openings to uncap. Guess they must have removed the cloche entirely during warm weather. If so, the bottles will be more practical. Less to disturb the seedlings.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

November 16, 2008
7:04 PM

Post #5798034

I have used the glass cloche and I tilted it slightly at the base with a stick.
Potagere

November 17, 2008
2:35 AM

Post #5799544

Y'all done got too 'Texas' for me!
Guess y'all got that there special weather.

If I could ever convince my best friend that he lives on the same planet as I do, I might convince him that gardening in Texas is no more special.

BTW, we "French" are still using cloches; it's not a "technique ancienne", Kendalia!
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 17, 2008
5:40 AM

Post #5799862

Hey, L'Texas, c'est moi, pilgrim! ô¿ô

So y'all still use them thar cloches! I reckon ours are bigger. . .
Potagere

November 17, 2008
9:07 AM

Post #5800062

C’est ça! Toutes les choses en Texas sont trés grandes. ¿N’est pas?
Kendalia
Kendalia, TX

November 17, 2008
2:32 PM

Post #5800585

C'est exact! (Les cliches trop.)

Ouch. That hurt my brain, trying to recall my college French, which is almost gone.

Potagere

November 17, 2008
3:48 PM

Post #5800924

It hurts my brain just trying to recall today's French.
GreenerBeaner
Carrollton, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 5, 2008
4:13 PM

Post #5861442

Hello Texans! Please forgive me for going back a couple of conversations, but I have a couple of questions about growing onions and garlic. These are two veggies I put in my grocery cart every week and would love to grow my own. How are they grown (I've never done anything like them) and would it be way too late to put them in now? What does it mean to "harvest as needed," Podster? Is the garlic constantly growing, or do you just leave it in the ground once it's done growing and dig up what you need as you need it? Any information (especially links or pictures) would be greatly appreciated.

A little info - I'm gardening near Dallas in 1.5' raised beds (way too much clay in my soil to ammend an in-ground plot...)

Thanks!

-Greener Beaner
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

December 5, 2008
4:38 PM

Post #5861525

I put my last onions in early Oct. as well as garlic. I leave mine out in the open all winter and they stay green. I have a few onions I could pull right now and some that need to stay in the ground longer. The garlic bulbs/cloves aren't big enough to harvest right now but I cut the green part when I want garlic in a dish.

You can find onion plants and bulbs at your local garden centers starting in Feb. probably and it's prefectly safe to plant them out as soon a s you find them.

Right now I have pots of onions from seeds growing in my un heated lean-to to be seperated and planted out in Feb.

Peggy
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
2:45 AM

Post #5863303

I've never tried onion from seeds aren't they are more cold sensitive?

Most folks here plant onions and garlic in Oct, Nov and I don't think too late even yet. In January, February you will see onion sets in the garden centers to be planted.

Many here keep an establish bed of garlic. They only harvest the stalks after the foliage has browned and died down. They have a preference to only harvest the stalks that have bloomed, leaving the rest in ground for the next year. The garlic will not rot in ground even in clay. The bed will regenerate from the cloves left in ground. It can also be "harvested as needed" when cooking using the green stalks or digging a bulb. Fresh garlic can be plucked from the ground rather than the grocers shelves. If you have a minute, this is a link of info I had saved in my journal and the sequence of photos on the garlic growth and blooms. http://davesgarden.com/community/journals/viewentry/111421/

I also keep multiplier onions that I usually dig up in summer. They produce clumps of bulbs that can be separated and replanted in fall. I also have a small bed of walking onions that I leave in ground full time. Again, a similar link on the multiplier onions. http://davesgarden.com/community/journals/viewentry/111609/ and on the Egyptian or topsetting onions. http://davesgarden.com/community/journals/viewentry/111405/
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
10:56 AM

Post #5864058

I started the onions(and chinese chives) under light on a heat mat then when they were big enough,transfered them to the unheated lean-to. They're happy as clams out there. By the first of Feb.I'll start easing them outside for a few mins. at a time for about a week then line them out in the garden by 2 or 3 week. If there's any weather reports of bad weather,I'll throw a lo-polytunnel over them.

This is only my second attempt at growing onions from seed. I tried bunching onions first and only got a about a dz. plants then I started gleaning info from different garden sites. Learned that they will germinate better if soak about 12 hrs(changing water a couple of times)in hot water before sewing. I'll probably be doing a lot more from seed now that I know the secert.Except for a few I kept for our use,I sold out on green onions at market last year and I have tripled the amt. I had set out in'06 so it maybe onion-onion-onion everywhere an onion next year...LOL


My onion seedlings pictured.I need to give them a hair cut so they'll concentrate on making roots/bulbs
I have two more pots but they were older seeds so they're just now sprouting...better late than never.

Thumbnail by bigred
Click the image for an enlarged view.

podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
11:20 AM

Post #5864071

Probably everyone will be growing/selling onions and then, no one will be buying them! That is just too predictable! LOL

Tell me how much "hair" you can take off on the seedlings? Do you need to leave enough that they will still draw growth energy from the sun?
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
11:46 AM

Post #5864105

Now don't go and jinks me...LOL. Everybody had onions last year. Only me another vendor sold out every time.

I'm gonna give those puppies a haircut back by half I do believe.Probably be a real pain the way they're all tangled. Break out the manicure scissors and magnifying glass..LOL
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
12:07 PM

Post #5864129

Interesting. I know on chives it is recommended to only cut from the outer edges but never thought about doing those. Maybe cause I never have grown onion from seed.
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
12:37 PM

Post #5864161

well,I meant I was going to only prune the onions
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
12:44 PM

Post #5864173

Never mind me... I'm up but not sure I'm awake...
bigred
Ashdown, AR
(Zone 8a)

December 6, 2008
12:58 PM

Post #5864196

LOL sounds like me...I've only had my first gallon of coffee. Need to get up go shower so I can get to VERY early CPR class. Not looking forward to it then I have to cap it with a trip to the grocery store.I'd leave that job to do next week but my dogs are out of food and there might be an uprising.

Don't know how socialable I'll be in public today...LOL
bobyrd
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

December 31, 2008
10:55 PM

Post #5949138

I am sure this question has been asked before and answered but I can't find it. Is it worth the bother to wintersow tomatoes and if so when should they be planted in my zone and what kind would you recommend?
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 1, 2009
4:52 AM

Post #5950480

When you sat "winter sow" tomatoes what exactly do you mean? Indoor or outdoor? I have tomato plants that are ready to go in the ground but they would freeze here. I usually start mine in the next week or so to be sold in March. I also grow them in containers. These are my indoor/outdoor plants depending on the weather.
Lisa
bobyrd
Conroe, TX
(Zone 9a)

January 1, 2009
10:25 AM

Post #5950861

I mean planting the seeds in a milk carton and setting it out and leaving it to germinate and grow. Then transplate into the ground at the appropriate time.
GreenerBeaner
Carrollton, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 1, 2009
1:13 PM

Post #5951023

Happy New Year!

Hiya Bobyrd - I first looked into Winter Sowing (the milk carton outside method) specifically to try to find a better way to start tomatoes since I don't have the space for grow lights. This will be my first time trying it, so I don't have any real live experience yet, but I have gathered a little information that might help get you started.

Folks from the Winter Sowing forum have put together a database of what seeds they have sown, when they put them out, when and how well they germinated, and when and if they bloomed. Here is a link to the portion of the list that includes tomatoes:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/ws/index.php?offset=280

While one of the "Original" Winter Sowers (and again, I mean the milkjug outside method) Trudi started all her seeds outside at Winter Solstice, I have heard frequentl that people have had better luck starting their tomatoes a little later. On the database, CapeCodGardener in Zone 7a starts his in April, and likewise grampapa in Zone 6a started her tomatoes outside in March. Both are great, seasoned Winter Sowers and I trust their advice. Both also note that their WSed tomatoes start of smaller than their traditional grow light tomatoes, but that the WS ones catch up just fine at harvest.

Trudi's website is http://www.wintersown.org/ and they will send you some seeds that are proven good Winter Sowers if you are starting out. My package included Lycopersicon lycopersicum "Sugar Baby" which they listed as a bush tomato. I'm going to give those a go this year and am hoping to find a couple more cultivars to try before I put mine out in their milk jugs in mid-April. Keep us updated on what you decide to try and I'll try to do the same.

Hope that helps!
-GB
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 1, 2009
4:41 PM

Post #5951825

bobyrd-does it ever freeze down there? Texas has all these microclimates so it seems like the zones don't mean as much here as other areas. I start my tomato plants indoors about 2 months befre I put them out. I don't use grow lights, just a sunny window. I have read and my experience has been that tomato plants started indoors may be a little leggy but once they are planted outside they do great. I start them in peat pellets and then transplant them to peat pots when they get bigger. Then to the garden and customers. One thing about starting plants inside is that they can't just be put outside they need to be acclimated a few hours each day and not in direct sun light. I love tomatoes so I would love to hear other peoples experiences. The tomato forum has some great information too.
Lisa

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Other Winter Sowing Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Winter Sowing Seed Swap .....part 2 alicewho 213 Mar 23, 2007 1:01 PM
Lessons learned for next year #2 zenpotter 256 Mar 23, 2007 7:56 AM
Milk jugs TurtleChi 99 Mar 19, 2007 12:20 PM
WS Poppies & transplant problems marie_ 100 May 11, 2011 4:44 PM
Database germination info bluespiral 6 Mar 5, 2008 12:23 PM


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