Category Archives: Horticulture

In the (Hot) July Vegetable Garden

It’s Dry in the July Vegetable Garden If you’re a new gardener in the Austin area, you’re probably wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. The U.S. Drought Monitor tells the story. Over 2/3 of Travis County is now tagged as experiencing extreme drought. Dry conditions mean that the soil has a reduced capacity to capture and store heat, exacerbating the high temperatures we are already experiencing. High nighttime temperatures cause many varieties of tomatoes to produce sterile pollen, which means your plants are going to stop fruiting (if… Read More →

Cactus Bugs by Wizzie Brown

What Are These Bugs on My Cactus?! Cactus coreids or cactus bugs, Chelinidea vittiger, are shield-shaped insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts. They are most commonly red but can vary in color. They have distinctive antennae; if you look at the antennae in cross section, they are triangular in shape. Adults have fully developed wings while immatures, or nymphs, do not and are sometimes mistaken for weevils. Cactus coreids feed in groups on prickly pear cactus. Often the first indication of damage is round, yellowish spots on the cactus pads…. Read More →

In the Central Texas June Vegetable Garden

Harvest the June Vegetable Garden Before the Squirrels Wake Up! June is normally the peak harvest season for many spring-planted vegetables. However, we’ve had such a dry year, that many of you may be experiencing delays or have watched plants wither under the heat. Others have seen early harvests of tomatoes and cucumbers due to warm temperatures. If you haven’t learned it by now, there is no “normal” for Austin vegetable gardeners! Cracking Tomatoes? Speaking of tomatoes, the warm days of May have contributed to some vigorous plant… Read More →

Kern’s Flower Beetles by Wizzie Brown

What is This Beetle in My Flowers? Kern’s flower beetles are a type of scarab beetle, closely related to May and June beetles.  They are medium in size, reaching about 1/3 inch in length.  There are multiple color variations ranging from all black, to brownish-orange or creamy white with black markings. Should You Treat for Them? These beetles eat pollen in multiple types of flowers.  Often you will find numerous beetles in a single flower.  Treatment of these beetles is optional as they feed on pollen and typically… Read More →

All Wisteria Are Not Created Equally by Gayleen Rabakukk

Not All Wisterias Are the Same Last month we decided to build a privacy screen to block our bedroom patio area. We settled on an open design with stock panel trellises and added planter boxes below. I was giddy at the prospect of another garden spot, imagining all sorts of vining vegetables climbing up the trellis. Nearly 12 feet of extra space for beans or peas! My husband had other ideas. “It’s permanent, I’d like something we can plant once, then it’ll grow for years.” He suggested wisteria… Read More →

In Austin’s May Vegetable Garden

Summer Season Has Arrived in the May Vegetable Garden It’s right about now that gardeners really settle in to bragging about what they are harvesting from their garden. It can be really annoying if yours isn’t as far along or if the deer and squirrels have picked everything clean. But if you are one of the lucky ones and are enjoying squash, cucumbers, and maybe even a tomato, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it for surviving the rough spring that we’ve had. May is the beginning… Read More →

In the April Vegetable Garden for Austin and Travis County

The April Vegetable Garden is the Best! April is the most glorious month for a vegetable gardener. Even if late March freezes have flattened your plantings, April is the month where everything aligns to thrive. I’m especially enjoying the bluebonnets growing in amongst my vegetable beds, my continuing harvest of pea shoots and spinach, and the (finally) quickly growing potato plants. Here is the checklist for the April vegetable garden: FERTILIZE Fertilize corn when it is one to two feet tall. Use a water-soluble fertilizer on tomatoes every… Read More →

Forest Tent Caterpillars by Wizzie Brown

Tent Caterpillars Start to Appear in April Forest tent caterpillars cause damage in the larval, or caterpillar, stage. Caterpillars are a greyish- brown color with bright blue and yellow stripes running down the sides of their body. The back of the caterpillar has white shoeprint/ keyhole markings. Larvae also have fine white hairs over their body but are not a stinging caterpillar. These caterpillars, although called tent caterpillars, do not make an actual tent like others in their group. Other tent caterpillars make a web between two branches… Read More →

In the Austin March Vegetable Garden

Is it Going to Freeze Again in the March Vegetable Garden? The first week of March is the average last day of frost but remain diligent and listen to the weather forecast. Soil temperatures and sneaky freezes will impact seed germination and plant viability. Use a Soil Thermometer Since weather apps don’t tell you how warm the soil is, the best monitoring tool is a soil thermometer. If you are a home composter or baker, you may already have thermometers you can use. If your thermometer has a… Read More →

Mexican Honeysuckle – First Responder from 2021 Winter Storm by Kirk Walden

Protective Covering Not Enough I have a lot of Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia Spicigera) scattered around the front of my house. Too much, in fact that I couldn’t cover it all in anticipation of February’s storm. So, I chose to protect one of the largest patches near my front door. It was nearly four feet tall and six feet wide. I covered it with a tarp and weighted the corners down with large rocks. That turned out to be futile. When I uncovered it, the damage was evident. (Figure… Read More →