Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gardening and High School English

 ***If you are a gardener and are willing, I would appreciate your advice on any of the questions at the bottom of  this post.*** 

     In years’ past, after a brief, hot summer, I spent late August and early September trying to get my teaching voice back, my feet into shoes, and my body clock shifted. 

     On unusually daunting mornings,  I played Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones to propel myself out of my driveway and across the street to the high school parking lot.

     I literally lived that close to my job.  It was almost like walking down the hall.

     The point is gardening was not in my sights; high school students late to class, daring to sleep in class, or staring off into space in class were. 

     “Snap out of it!”, I enjoyed shouting. My English III AP  students just laughed. Those really were the good old days. Then I would laugh. Learning really gets enhanced when everyone is laughing.

     Again, the point is I need your gardening help and expertise.

Note: I live in zone 9, 6 inches from the surface of the sun.

* Can I replace the plants I lost this summer in October?

*Can I plant carpet grass this fall?

*I am planning two large, raised beds for next spring. Should I build them now, fill them with soil, and add magical substances to the soil as I wait for spring?

*What are those magical substances?

*Do you order seeds and plants from catalogues?  Which ones do you like?

*Do you grow your plants from seeds?

*Are you planting fall annuals?

Thank you-

I know right about now you feel like shouting, “Snap out of it!”



Stacey said...

Laura, I'm not in your area but being the Texan (living in Oklahoma) that I am I would suggest that you contact your county extension agent. They will provide information for free! You can get information for your zone from Texas A&M also. You also have county Master Gardeners you can call on.

donna baker said...

Laura, I live in zone 7. Yes, you should be able to plant in fall all the way through winter unless the soil is frozen which I don't think it will be in Texas. Grapes can even be planted in Feb. here. Now, for the fun part - raised beds. There is a book I have about Lasagna Gardening. The technique will work in raised beds too. First, lay down heavy corrugated cardboard (I cut up boxes). Next, put a layer of compost, then a layer of peat moss, then a layer of cut grass clippings another layer of peat, then put on another layer of newspaper. Next, add mulched leaves (they break down quicker than whole leaves) then a layer of peat. You get the picture. Keep layering with whatever you have. You'll start finding stuff. I even cleaned out the oxygenator (green plants) growing in my goldfish pond and used them for a layer. Next spring, you'll have beautiful soil ready to plant. Don't turn it. Just layer it. I even tried planting in it right after making all the layers and had the biggest onions and spinach etc. I've ever had. The only drawback is that being raised so much, I had to water daily to keep the ground moist. So, I recommend waiting until spring to plant. I order seeds from all sorts of catalogs; some have to be planted in the garden but some can be started in pots for planting out later. Stark Bros. catalog is the only one I recommend to order plants from. Those would be fruits etc. And lastly, if you really want a treat, Logee's has the most fabulous tropical plants to order. I use them often and have lemons, oranges, bay laurel, limes, olives etc. They even have black pepper and vanilla plants.

Kat said...

6 inches from the sun - that's a good one, and boy this year I'm starting to believe it! Great post, I have many of the same questions so if it's ok I'm going to stalk the comments on this post lol. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Kathy

Maree said...

That's too funny about the Rolling Stones..Start me up.
I'm a long time gardener but Kentucky and Texas...we are a little farther from the sun here! ;-) Looks like Donna has the answers!

Tootsie said...

I'm zone three and wish I had more heat!! lol
I hope you get your answers to most questions....I grow EVERYTHING in my yard from seed...I order the seed online from several my email if you want me to send you some information about where and how etc...
good luck.
oh...make those beds whenever you want...I don't think it hurts anything to let them sit...they may just get a few weed seeds planting themselves...or some cat will use them as a litterbox...but what the heck!

Anonymous said...

Add mushroom compost to soil-great stuff!! It is organic, you can get at Lowes or Home Depot most of time! I add whenever I am planting anything. Also cedar mulch on top!! Great & deters insects! I have great luck with seeds from Wildseed Farm-Fredericksberg,Tx. They have catelog! Call them,they are very helpful re;Plant zone etc. Good Luck & Happy Planting!

Dixie said...

Laura, I enjoy each and every post that you write. Don't worry about a little Blogger Block... "if you build it they will come..."
and now.. to the gardening questions... I'm no expert, but here's what I know (and or think)...

* Can I replace the plants I lost this summer in October?
Ans: Absolutely, of course it does depend upon the plant.

*Can I plant carpet grass this fall?
Ans: Yes, but be sure to water as needed during the winter and fertilize. Check with a local plant nursery on what's right for your area, or buy Texas Gardening by Neil Sperry!

*I am planning two large, raised beds for next spring. Should I build them now, fill them with soil, and add magical substances to the soil as I wait for spring?
Ans: Yes, you should start getting your raised beds ready for spring. If I were you, I'd get them ready, amended, and plant some winter vegs in them like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and brussels sprouts. Throw in a few Pansys for pretty too!

*What are those magical substances?
Ans: There's a liquid composting fertilizer that I like, made right here in Texas called "Medina". If you have the room, set up a compost pile. (remember, no meat in the compost pile!)

*Do you order seeds and plants from catalogues? Which ones do you like?
Ans: No, I have rarely ordered seeds from catalogs. I usually go to the local feed store for seeds and/or our local plant nursery.

*Do you grow your plants from seeds?
Ans:Of course! whenever possible!

*Are you planting fall annuals?
Ans: Probably not this year... there just isn't time in my calendar! (I mean, where is your inner Martha Stewart when you need her!)

have a glorious weekend!

Dixie said...

ps... Laura I think it was you that asked me what I thought about "What the Dead Know" by Laura Lippman... true Lippman fashion, twists, turns... back and forth in memory and time... and of course... didn't guess the ending... you'll enjoy the read.

Amy said...

I really don't know about the different planting zones but I enjoyed reading about your teaching days.

Maureen said...

I can't help you with gardening in your zone but you can always ask questions and get tons of great information here:

The thing about seeds is that most stores carry a very basic selection. If you want someone special or unusual, ordering seeds is the way to go. Just to get an idea, check this out:

Good luck!

P.S. I am not affiliated with Johnny's Seeds, I've just used them and was happy.

Jan said...

Laura, I live on the edge of zone 9/8, so I probably have the same growing conditions as you do. I agree with Dixie's answers, but when it comes to replacing plants in October, unless it is a perennial, shrub, or tree, I would wait until spring. I would also build the raised beds now and let them overwinter. I would put in plenty of compost. You didn't say what your soil is like -clay, sandy, for example, so I can't tell you what other things to put in. I only order plants if I can't find them locally. I have used Oakes Daylilies for fabulous daylilies and Parks for seeds. Lastly, I will definitely be planting fall annuals. Pansies, snapdragons, and petunias all will survive the winter here where I live on the Gulf Coast. Good luck with gardening. You will love it.

Always Growing

Deanna Bland Hiott PhD, MSN, RN said...

Sorry, I live in zone 7 so I'm not sure...I'm still hearing Start Me Up and trying to snap out of it...Funny!

Vickie said...

Laura - I'm in zone 9, too, but am not an expert. I can find just about anything in the way of plants around here as we have nurseries galore. I've never ordered from seed catalogs, but am thinking about raising from seed next spring. I think it'll save money and I'll learn something from it. I've just had my own garden 2 years now and I have alot to learn about composting, amending the soil, etc. But I did have a pretty good garden both times. Beginner's luck, I guess. I don't do raised beds. We bought a big gargantuan tiller recently so that'll make adding peat, mulch, etc., to our garden area alot easier - we have mostly sand and it needs something a little meatier so it won't dry out so quickly. I'm going to check back on this post, cuz I need some of this same information! Good luck with your gardening!

Vickie said...

Oh yeah - I agree with replanting some winter veggies over the winter. We planted our broccoli, etc. too late and it got hot too quickly. I'm going to try that this winter and see how it does!


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