garden gate

Ever wanted to try your hand at growing vegetables? Just think of the pure joy of walking out your kitchen door to pick tomatoes, lettuce, peas, beans, onions and other things to put onto your dinner table that evening. And it’s not that hard.

Gardeners around here usually start their spring gardens in March after danger of frost has passed. Brave souls who want to grow their garden from seed can start indoors even earlier than that. You can plan on success with squash, tomatoes, corn, okra, peas, peppers and beans.

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Ok, I’ll admit, it has been just nasty outside lately. But as we optimists know, this just gives us a little time to plan for our springtime yards in the better weather to come. Let’s think about using this time to decide what we could do better this year. Or maybe we can use this time to dream about new areas of our yard that we could develop. Maybe we could get rid of a little bit of lawn and replace it with something much more earth-friendly.

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If you have ever thought about growing fruit trees in your yard, you will be excited to learn of an upcoming workshop sponsored by Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension Office of Jefferson County. The Urban Fruit Tree Workshop: Growing Fruit on The Gulf Coast will be held Jan. 24. And we are in for a treat. Keynote speaker Tom Leroy comes to us very well suited to lead the program, along with our Local Citrus Expert Panel.

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Say “decorate for Christmas” and many of us immediately think of the plants that say Christmas. Your decorating list could include poinsettias, paperwhites, rosemary, amaryllis, holly, Christmas cactus, Christmas rose, mistletoe and your own Christmas tree. 

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Lots of local gardeners have great luck with growing grapes, and I wondered why. According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), Texas is the site of the first vineyard established in North America. It was established by Franciscan priests close to 1659. As European settlers followed the development of mission outposts, they brought more grapevine cuttings. The grape growing industry in Texas developed through the 1800s.

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Bananas at the Mildred Building Apartments on Calder

This healthy tree loaded with bananas at the Mildred Building Apartments on Calder near downtown Beaumont shows just how well this fruit grows right here in Southeast Texas. The Mildred Building banana tree has lived happily there for a decades. It is so exotic and tropical yet so possible right here in your own backyard.

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We are lucky to be in Texas this time of year. Some of our summer blooming plants like hibiscus and bougainvillea are still giving us a show, and we can add in gorgeous fall blooming annuals and perennials. Just for fun, how about we focus on some purple beauties and create an area that will not only draw you to the garden but butterflies, bees and birds as well? It seems that we all love purple.

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If you want a great place to spend next Saturday, Nov. 1, I have a suggestion for you! The Golden Triangle Rose Society is holding its Fall Rose Show at Tyrrell Park Garden Center at noon. They have invited the public to not only attend but to enter a rose in the contest Do you have a special rose in mind? Or you can just go and enjoy the Garden Center, which will be overflowing with the beautiful colors and fragrances of hundreds of freshly cut roses. How great is that!

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Want a great garden next spring? Now is the time to start improving your soil if you want those super healthy colorful blooms next year. Just remember that when Jack threw the bean out of the window that grew the beanstalk, that the soil it grew in was probably super fertile.

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Even if you do not often eat them, I’ll bet you would like the way they add elegance to your garden spaces. The oh-so-interesting artichoke is simply a showstopper in full bloom. It will spread into a huge silvery green fountain-shaped vegetable. And you could try dipping those artichoke leaves into some butter and then eating that tender artichoke heart. The artichoke is a goldmine of rich, earthy, hearty flavor.

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