Now is the time to prep for fall planting so you can enjoy picking squash, broccoli, tomatoes and more from your own vegetable garden. If you’re new to gardening or looking for some tips to get the best harvest this year, don’t miss out on this upcoming opportunity to have your best garden this fall.
The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department is excited to announce their first online educational program. The Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class will bring top notch information right to your own home on Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Dr. Bob Randall, noted Houston vegetable gardening expert and published gardening author, will share his lifetime of vegetable gardening expertise in this Zoom webinar. Learn about garden site selection and preparation; plant selection based upon Montgomery County’s plant hardiness zone 9a; and appropriate organic gardening techniques. Dr. Randall’s many years of expertise in gardening education, community gardening and tending his personal vegetable garden are sure to provide an exciting and informative class.
To register for this free class and receive your webinar link, sign up here
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Sounds impossible? How can you plant something so infinite and so vast? Can you pluck a star out of the sky to fertilize, water and gaze upon? Well, no. But what about a flower with a celestial name that’s as radiant as the sun: the yellow cosmos. An annual herb native to Mexico and northern regions of South America, this sunny yellow flower was favored by Spanish priests to adorn their mission gardens.
Care and adaptability
Yellow cosmos prefer hot, dry weather and poor soil conditions. It is a perfectly adapted plant for southeast Texas gardens. Plant cosmos seeds when the soil is warm or around 65 degrees. For our region that can be as early as March and as late as September and October. Choose a location which receives 8-10 hours of full sun; too much shade reduces flower production. Cover seeds lightly with soil so they receive enough sunlight for germination. Keep the soil moist for 5-10 days after seeding. Look for sprouts in the next 7 to 21 days and soon after you will have a garden full of rays of sunshine beaming from your yellow cosmos.
Cosmos thrives on neglect! If watered too frequently and fertilized too heavily, the plant will grow too tall, flop over and produce fewer flowers. Easy to care for cosmos can grow from 1.5 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 3 feet wide, forming a long taproot to reach water deep within the soil. When other plants are struggling in 100-degree temperatures, cosmos thrive.
Prolong the late summer to fall bloom time by removing dying flowers (deadhead) frequently. When seeds form, the plant may be cut back to encourage re-blooming. In late fall, stop deadheading to allow the plants to form seeds which attract small birds, particularly gold finches. Resistant to most pests and diseases, yellow cosmos is a valuable wildlife plant in the garden.
The single yellow flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies, bees and beneficial insects such as lacewings and parasitic wasps which help control garden pests. Hummingbirds are attracted to the cosmos nectar while many small backyard birds love the seeds. Cosmos is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as one of the flowering annuals most attractive to butterflies.
Beyond the garden
It is also easy to grow cosmos from seed in containers. Just remember to avoid over-fertilization and over-watering. If your garden is pesticide free, cosmos is edible and can be used as an attractive addition to salads.
Add a pop of color to your flower arrangement with some cut cosmos. When correctly harvested, cosmos arrangements can last 7-10 days. Select flowers that have just opened, cutting them early in the morning when the highest water content is contained in the stems. Immediately place the cut flowers in a container of lukewarm water and strip foliage from the stems to prevent decay. Bouquets of cosmos provide a light, airy, cheerful appearance.
Growing cosmos in southeast Texas is one of the easiest possible gardening projects. Fall planting time is now. Cosmos seeds are available at local home stores and from online retailers. Grow it and enjoy the other worldly results!
School is back in session. Everything pumpkin spice flavored will be here soon. Falling leaves, sweater weather and romanesco are just around the corner. Caught off guard by that last one? If you’re not counting down the days to having fresh romanesco on your plate, then you are missing out on one impressive fall vegetable.
With a vivid chartreuse color and an unusual shape made of multiple cones arranged in a hypnotic spiral pattern, romanesco is one of the most underrated vegetables you will find this fall.
What’s in a name?
A member of the brassica family, romanesco is related to both broccoli and cauliflower. Sometimes labeled “romanesco cauliflower” or “romanesco broccoli”, it’s neither cauliflower nor broccoli. Romanesco is its own unique and individual vegetable. Just the visual details alone allude to how uncommon it is.
The stunning appearance of romanesco is created by a fractal, or “a never-ending pattern.” Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop.” (Fractal Foundation). You might be having déjà vu from your high school math class, but if you didn’t memorize the details of the Fibonacci sequence, just take a look at the intricate spiny spiraled protrusions that make up the edible flowering head of the plant and admire its complicated beauty, without sweating a pop quiz in geometry.
Eat your greens
While romanesco is more commonly found in Italian cuisine,
there are many ways to serve this crunchy crudité as part of dinner this week. Chock
full of vitamins C and K and high in fiber, this cousin to cabbage, kale and radishes
is very versatile in the kitchen.
With a nutty and slightly spicy flavor and a texture similar to cauliflower, romanesco adds a nice kick of flavor to a simple salad or is a great addition on your next fruit and veggie tray. When lightly steamed or roasted, enhance the flavor with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Cooked romanesco goes great in a bowl of pasta or as a nice addition to a sandwich. Try it on your next Italian sub!
The season for romanesco comes and goes quickly. If you find it available at the farmer’s market or in a grocery store, grab it before it’s gone. Look for it late in the summer or during a second harvest in early winter if planning to purchase this exotic vegetable. Don’t want to rely on retail for this tasty treat? Add romanesco to your fall garden and create an endless supply to enjoy during the cooler months.
Get your hands dirty
Ready to add some romanesco to your fall garden? Join The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department on Saturday, August 24, 2019, for a free organic fall vegetable gardening class. Learn how simple planting and caring for fall vegetables is from our distinguished presenters, Bill Adams and Tom LeRoy. Bill and Tom will share their many years of experience as Texas A&M horticulture agents and their personal expert gardening skills and knowledge.
This FREE organic fall vegetable gardening class will be held at The Woodlands Emergency Training Center from 9 a.m. to noon. Space is limited, so register today.
For more information on upcoming events, visit thewoodlandstownship-tx/environment or contact the Environmental Services Department at 281-210-3800.
Fall–our most productive gardening season–provides an opportunity to grow fresh lettuce and other cool season vegetables! Pleasant temperatures are an added incentive to plant a garden in fall. Continue reading →