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BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

It's about time to go to a new page since this topic is drawing so much interest...

Here's where we've posted previously::

As always, all are welcome, even those a little envious in the colder climates...

This message was edited Feb 22, 2013 11:31 PM

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


The tomatoes you showed in the last item on the old thread look beautiful! When are you planning on transplanting? They look ready to go into the ground. My seedlings aren't nearly so far along. These were planted about two weeks ago. I started them on a heat mat, with a clear plastic cover to hold the moisture. I plan to put them in the garden in 3-4 weeks, without potting up to a larger container. If the weather is nice enough, today I hope to start working the soil for the tomatoes.

#1 is a photo of a tray of my tomato seedlings. All the tomatoes in this tray are indeterminates.
#2 is the new tiller my wife bought for my birthday last fall, when the old one couldn't be repaired. It is a Cub Cadet.


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Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks Kev! Your maters look beautimous!

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

I mistakenly posted on the old thread (part 2) regarding the shape of things here, at And here's one on the amazingly tough Avocados.

This message was edited Feb 23, 2013 2:05 PM

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Today was a minor work day outside. I spread some pine straw under the apples, planted some strawberry crowns and the next planting of peas and radishes. The irrigation system has been on holding waiting for more supplies; I finally got the rest of the emitter line in and added the valves. I still need the staples to show up to hold the lines down -- they are fresh and very tightly coiled!

I also did some weeding and general garden cleanup. I am *so* ready for spring. Soil temp is still a chilly 53F.

My 'mater seedlings are up and one of the peppers is showing a tiny bit of green. This year, I have them in an old aquarium with the 65w 10k aquarium light. The ones on the sides were getting leggy and stretching toward the middle, so I got the other fixture out (somewhat precariously balanced!). It has twice the light (4x32w), but half the light is spilling off the sides. But at least it's evenly spread and the ones on the sides won't be so left out. We'll see.

Most years we have enough warm sunny days to leave the seedlings out in the sun, but not this year. Now that I've decided to start peppers and tomatoes indoors on a regular basis, I may need something more permanent. I like the aquarium and it's perfectly sized for the tray I'm using, but I need a different light fixture I guess.

Now I need to go spray my apples and putter around outside a bit more. 55 degree days have been rare this spring. Tomorrow should be warmer and sunny so we reserved that for a hike.

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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I managed to get seven tomato plants in after mixing up a topper of topsoil, MG garden soil and Microlife. Put the hoop up and covered it with the perforated plastic sheeting.

We're going to the high 30s all next week, so, I'll break out sheets and the frost blanket. Glad to finally have the contingencies in place!

My bell peppers have blooms under the lights..

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I am covering every night my tomatoes hoop house with blankets and the plants are doing great and they keep growing.
Unbelievable !!
Tomorrow I will substitute the 5 tomatoes I lost to monsters .... grrrrrrr

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Late freeze coming this Monday night! Might have snow flurries, so I think I'll postpone starting the field trips for my tomato babies.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

aaahhhh where did you hear that?
The has no snow on the forecasts ... ahahhhh

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

From Pete Delkus:

Thunderstorms, snow and very strong winds! All three are in the forecast beginning late tonight.

Thunderstorms (60%) will develop overnight west of Fort Worth. Some of these will have the potential to produce large hail and strong winds (mainly west of the Metroplex). The severe weather threat in these locations are low with marginally severe storms possible. Scattered (50%) showers and thunderstorms will move into the Metroplex near daybreak Monday. Severe storms are NOT anticipated but lightning, gusty winds and brief heavy rain are possible.

On and off scattered (50%) rain will stay in the forecast for the remainder of the day Monday and a large part of North Texas will see measurable rain, but unfortunately, amounts will be very light.

Additionally, a rain/snow mix may develop in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and points to the north. This will occur Monday afternoon and continue through Monday evening. I do NOT expect accumulations in the Metroplex because temperatures will be above freezing. But, along the Red River some light accumulations are possible on bridges and overpasses which may lead to some isolated slick spots.

Otherwise, very windy conditions (W/NW winds of 30mph-40mph & gusts to 50mph) are expected Monday and Monday night. This is why a Wind Advisory has been issued for North Texas tomorrow and tomorrow night.

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks for the compliments on the tomatoes, they were seeded Jan. 21st, and potted up about 2 weeks ago. I've started a feeding mix of Uncle John's Recipe liquid fertilizer, molasses, and a touch of Vermaplex, all cut to about half strength. Some are going to friends so they will pot up to 6" deep pots. I've been keeping the cold room about 65 degrees, so they've been getting pretty solid. Just running out of space in the shelf unit. Plus I have another tray of them that are about the same size.

With the weather predictions for next week, I don't see these going to the root pouches before March 10th or 15th, just to be safe. I'm really juggling to try to keep everything going slowly, but they're starting to get ahead of me. I'm also in the process of getting the garden beds cleaned out, so that's another factor into the equation.

The plants I've really got to get moved are the dwarf's I've got started. I think going to the 3.5" deep pots they'll have plenty of root space. Another thing in the "to do" list queue is getting the rainwater collection system put together. On the trip this weekend we went through the backroads to East Texas, and I found 3 or 4 different stores that had the rain barrels & big totes. Really wanted to stop and get some info on them.

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

Don't get me started on "Mr. Channel 8 Weatherman".Pete Delkus He is the reason I left my perennials in containers outside one night when the temperature got down to 28 degress when he said that the temperature would only get down to 39 degrees. Consequently I had to cut back my perennials to the ground and wait for them to grow back this spring while I could have blooming right now Greg's blue mist, lavender popcorn Lantana, plumbago, autumn sages (salvia gregii), etc. In the future I will take his forecasts with a large grain of salt.

I'm interested in what your ultimate plans were for planting your "dwarfs" (tomatoes I assume). Are you going to plant them in the ground or in containers? This being my first to grow dwarf's I was thinking of growing mine in white 5 gallon plastic buckets from HD as opposed to planting them in the ground mainly because of a space limitation in my raised beds which are for my indeterminant tomatoes and the fact that the dwarf plants don't need as much space to grow, I believe.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I have Blue Mist and it's just now poking its head out of the ground. It dies back in the winter and comes back in the spring with a vengeance!

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I am the fearless gardener ... I am going out right now to plant a few tomatoes.
I will just make sure that the hoop house covers are secured to the PVC pipes very well ...
weeee ... wish me luck !!!

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

You'd better do it today or according to Mr. Delkus, tomorrow you might need to tether yourself to a permanent structure to keep from being blown away, along with your tomatoes..

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

you are just dreaming that my tomatoes will fly to your garden, right?

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

This message was edited Feb 26, 2013 9:08 AM

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

hu? I don't understand ... what is DT's?

Broccoli keep making heads and side shoots.

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

Lettuce is growing really well .. even if it is all together ... yummy !!
Onions are growing. I will start to pull the middle ones to use as green onions on my cooking.

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Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I replaced the tomatoes that were eaten by those worm monsters. This time I made a paper collar and really sprinkled with DE all around the plant.
I did water the plants yesterday just for 10 minutes with the soaker hose and the soil was really wet ... so no more water for my tomatoes. They just don't like to be wet and cold at this time of the year.
I cover the hoop house with a frost blanket that will keep the rain away tomorrow ... I hope.
I put a lot of clips so it will stay with the heavy wind ... I hope.
So far so good !

The soil temperature this morning was almost 50F. This thermometer never went below 45F since I transplanted the tomatoes outside. Right now is almost at 60F.

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DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

This message was edited Feb 26, 2013 9:09 AM

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

Yum, nice looking lettuce. When your tomatoes start to ripen you will have your own salad bar. Don't you have any Swiss chard?

So you covered the hoops over your tomatoes with both plastic with holes and frost cloth? Which one is on top of the other? You don't leave any of your bases uncovered do you?

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I wish I could have lettuce with my tomatoes ... by the time the tomatoes are ready ... the lettuce normally starts to bolt.
Yes, I have the perforated plastic covering the hoop house.
I decided a few days ago to not let the tomatoes wet, so I just put a white frost blanket.

If it is not raining and the temperature is going below 50F, I just throw blanket on top of the perforated plastic. I cannot let the blanket to get wet because I think they will be too heavy on top of the PVC and maybe collapse down ...
And this is how I keep myself in such a good shape !!

One more lessons this year; DO NOT MULCH with pine needles yet ... wait until the plants are bigger.
If the soil is bare it will absorb more heat from the sun. Pine needles will keep the soil cooler. Also those gnam-gnam monsters do hide under the pine needles.

Maybe next year I will have my system down correctly.

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Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

Good point about waiting for the soil to warm up before putting down pine straw mulch. I was thinking this afternoon if I go ahead and plant my tomatoes I will need to go to the park accross the street to harvest some pine needles. Now I don't neeed to worry about it yet.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Hrp50 ~ if I may suggest, harvest the pine straw now, before it is shredded from mowing and while it is still cool enough to be comfortable. It can be stored in garbage bags until needed.

Yes, Drthor is correct. Let the soil warm up before mulching and when it is time to mulch, let the soil receive a good soaking (preferably rain) before mulching. The mulch will also help retain moisture.

David, I am one of those that looses most of mine by our scheduled vacation. The young man that tends to the pets will water and harvest but it is just not the same. I want to savour the rewards from the effort. Ah well, such is life.

Right now, my multiplier onions are sending up blooms. This year, I am pinching the blooms off in hopes of generating larger bulbs. As with everything, another experiment. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from drthor :
The soil temperature this morning was almost 50F. This thermometer never went below 45F since I transplanted the tomatoes outside. Right now is almost at 60F.

That seems odd. My soil temp is 54F right now?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

The zones wiggle around- Garland is north side of Dallas which is warmer than the FW side north...drthor has a microclimate goin

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

drthor, today is supposed to be the warmest day we're to have for the next 5-7 days.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

My hoop is up, too, covered with the same perforated plastic as drthor. Starting tomorrow night, our temps will be in the high 30s - low 40s all this week (nighttime).

I have frost blankets, and sheets ready.

Helped my elderly neighbor and a new gardening friend plant their tomatoes today. Nothing in my yard today...

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

cold fronts you will notice are goin to start being felt every 2 or 3 days- sometimes a weak one is followed by a stronger one, but it can be another weak front. They are always this way, but at this season you can tell when the temp and winds go up and down...if the winds blow strong from the south or west, they will turn and be followed by rain. If the temps swing way hi on the ground and the clouds are super cold you are apt to have thunderstorms with twisters. The cloud formation to look for is one that resembles 3 loaves of french bread laid out on a rack to cool, but they are rolling. Unless you are UNDER the eye, chuckle, or the clouds are too low to see details... like the Wichita Falls tornados on April 11th, 1979. There is a class you could take Lynda- the one that teaches you storm spotting...

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

this is just for you ... I just took these pictures ...
Air temperature outside is 50F - soil temperature inside hoop house at 8am is about 55F.
Daffodils are so beautiful at this time of the year ...

This message was edited Feb 25, 2013 8:13 AM

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Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

seeing is believing.

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

hrp50>> I did some experimentation last year with the plastic 5 gallon Home Depot garden and wasn't impressed. To get a mix of Tapla's specification took a lot of time, sifting, labor & was fairly expensive. In my opinion, the ratio I had may have been "too fast" and the result didn't match the effort. The only "good" tomatoes that came out of the buckets were the Sun Gold or Sun Sugars, can't recall which off the top of my head. One of the factors that may have come into play was that our spring was very warm, even at night, and I had a lot of blossom drop. That's one of the reasons why I got such an early start this year.

I did a good bit of research last year looking at different aeration containers and really like the Root Pouches, and their new product, Boxer Browns. All my vegetables are going to be grown in them this season, but I will also grown some cukes, zucchini, and squash in the raised bed. Primary pouch veggies will be the okra, tomatoes and peppers, with some cukes and watermelon, as this years experiment. Another reason for the pouch usage is the fact that you can get away with a lot "slower" mix. I plan on getting garden soil from Gardenville locally and add some sifted bark mulch to add a bit more air. A truck load of the soil is what it would cost for 10 or 12 bags of mix at the box store, so I'd be able to fill all the bags for a fairly cheap cost.

For the dwarfs I plan on using the 2 gallon pouch and will set up an overhead string trellis for the suport, and I'll trellis the other tomatoes the same way. The rest of the tomatoes are going into 3 gallon pouches because of the size of the plant & a little more stability. With the 5 gallon pouch I'm going to put a pair of okra, and see how they do.

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

This message was edited Feb 26, 2013 9:59 AM

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

The wind was blowing and whistling so strong last night ... I couldn't stop thinking at my poor tomatoes.
This morning ... the trash bin is down in the ground ... but my tomato hoop house is still standing ... unbelievable!
I will keep my finger crossed all of this week. If I can keep them alive after Sunday = great tomatoes season !
Scary but funny !

Is anybody else taking risk this year in their veggie garden?

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

This message was edited Feb 26, 2013 10:00 AM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

You and I are doing the same thing.

I was out after 10 pm last night fighting the wind to get my hoop covered. I had put the Thermal perforated plastic up Sunday, but was afraid the wind would rip it, and that it might get too cold. So, I wrestled with a large, old bed sheet and clipped it over the perfed plastic. Then, I got a heavier sheet of plastic I used in the past, and clipped that over the sheet.

That wind was whipping me all over my yard! I was out there about 20 minutes struggling with the hoop, and securing stuff that had blown over. Amazing part was that it wasn't cold at all -- just very windy. The wind had to be gusting 20-30 mph!

All night long I kept hearing this banging, and wondering if it was some trash cans rolling down the street. When I left this morning, two pickets were blown out of my neighbors new fence (2nd one installed in the past year -- shoddy worksmanship). The pickets had been banging until the wind blew them out!

I peeped under the hoop this morning, and those babies are lined up just as happy and content as you please...I was a bit worried there would be no air circulation, but I only sealed up one end of the tarp last night. And, the wind is blowing in from the open end, so, I could probably camp out under there, tonight!

All is well...

From all my observations last year, I decided early on that I was going to put my tomatoes out ON TIME in mid-February, and do what was necessary to protect them. Now that the contingencies are in place, I don't feel so much that it is a risk, as a challenge to stay one step ahead of whatever is coming. It takes commitment and dedication, though, and a tinge of insanity!

I've always believed we could beat the winter window, especially here in Houston with our mostly mild weather. I'm just putting that belief to the test!

Linda ^^_^^

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I agree. You should be always ahead of my planting time, since you are much warmer than me.
Every year, when I transplanted out the tomatoes, the wind blows like crazy !
It must be related to the moon phases ... because I always plant by the same calendar.
I call it the "tomatoes dance": cover and uncover ... good exercise !

Soil temperature inside the hoop house still 50F. I also did pick under it and the plants seem fine.

Good luck y'all !

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I have a soil thermometer on the way, too...Curious to know just how warm it's gonna get under that hoop.

Today's going to be mid-60s and SUNNY, so glad the wind is blowing into the hoop! That north-south orientation is a blessing!

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

You all in Texas are getting monster winds just like we have up here all the time. We just came out of a 3 day period of really bad winds with gusts up to 40mph. I get so tired of it, but compared to other parts of the US we are very lucky. It has been a grey gloomy winter, but Spring is coming.My peppers & tomatoes are growing nicely- (in the ice cube tray are some Delphiniums & Columbine from saved seeds-in DE)

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