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Showing posts from March, 2015

Seaweed works says farmer

Whether it's the purported hormone content of seaweed or its trace elements and nutrients, or both, one Texas farmer says it makes seedlings more robust and established plants a little greener.

Read about the benefits of seaweed and how it's used in this article on Dallas Culture Map.

Why Dallas area spring rains may bring the best growing season in recent years

A study in Ohio showed that in that state, annual rainfall drops nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil at a rate equivalent to 17 pounds of synthetic fertilizer being added. This is one of the many ways, obvious or not so obvious, that rainfall benefits us.

Texas farmer Marshall Hinsley thinks that the abundance of rainfall this year will bring one of the best growing seasons since 2009.

His reasons appear in this article from Culture Map Dallas.

When to sow seeds in North Texas

Every spring and fall, social media feeds devoted to gardening are filled with a single question: is it time to plant _________?

The answer to the question is somewhat answered by determining the area's average frost dates and using the USDA planting zones, but with unpredictable weather patterns and climate change, they're at best a general guide.

A more accurate look at when it's time to sow seeds comes from knowing what the optimum temperature is for a crop's seed to germinate. If it's March 15, the date of the average last frost in North Texas, but the soil temps are still cooler than a seed will germinate at, then it's not time to sow that seed.

For best results, sow seeds when the nighttime lows are within the range of optimum temperatures at which a crop's seed germinates.

This chart is a handy reference for knowing when to plant.

One of the advantages of raised garden beds is drainage

With light rainfall almost every day for the last two weeks, the ground is beginning to become saturated with moisture in this garden south of Dallas. One of the advantages of raised garden beds can be seen clearly as flooding is occuring around these beds. The raised soil within the frames is staying above the surface of the surrounding water, and therefore the beds are keeping seedlings from being totally immersed.

Old seed? Viability test is simple way to see if it's still good to sow

Anyone who has grown his or her own veggies for a few years will have wound up with at least one small box of all the leftover seed that wasn't sown in the past.

Seed is usually good for a year after it's sold, but after two years, different crops show varying seed viability. Some seed can last up to five years, or more, if stored properly. But other crops die out in just a year, especially if it's kept in warm, humid conditions.

This simple seed viability test featured in Marshall Hinsley's article for Dallas Culture Map shows an age-old way to see if you're still able to get some life out of your old seed or if you need to get some new packets.

Soil temps, not frost-free date, tell us when to sow

Knowing when to sow what in the garden can be confusing.

Seed packets usually direct us to sow a certain amount of weeks before or after a frost-free date in the spring, or give us specific ranges of dates with a thumbnail of the USDA zone map.

But every year, the weather is different. In some years, we may never see a frost in parts of Texas. In other years, we may have a cold front plunge temperatures into the 20s -- in April.

Knowing when the date of the average last or first frost is only half the story when it comes to sowing seeds.

What also helps us to know when to sow is the temperature of the soil. No matter what date it is, if the soil temps aren't right, we'll just be throwing away our seeds if we sow them.

Novice Texas farmer Marshall Hinsley has learned several lessons from the unpredictable climate, and now he's more interested in how warm the soil is than what day it is when it comes to starting the growing season.

His findings are the topic of this article