Houston Vegetable Garden – Growing vegetable gardens in Houston

February 22, 2013

Planting Tomatoes in the Ground

Category: General – Robert 10:14 am

The tomato plants have filled out in the one gallon containers, the weather for next week looks good; so, it is time to put the tomatoes in the ground in the Houston vegetable garden.  The Sweet Treat tomatoes are wild vining plants so I will need to get some bigger cages for them.  Bob Randall recommends 72” of 6’ tall 4×4 mesh fencing.  I have trouble finding that fencing except in large rolls, but Southland Hardware has it in 2×4 mesh and will cut any length for you.  the 2×4 mesh is a little small to put your arm through, but I can cut out a few to make some 4×4 openings.  The determinate varieties will do fine in the old cages I got form Park Seed some years ago.

February 14, 2013

Tomato Strategy

Category: General,Tomatoes – Robert 11:13 am

Planted tomatoes for my Houston Vegetable Garden from seed in early January.  I am trying two new varieties this year:  Sweet Treat and Orange Paruche.  Sweet Treat is a Japanese pink variety (although the fruit looks red to me).  It is a rampant vining plant that requires a large cage.  My Urban Harvest friend Scott Howard highly recommended it.  Orange Paruche is one I stumbled on to.  It has good reviews but one never knows if it will do well in the Houston climate.  We will see.  Plants are in gallon containers outside now.  Will plant in the ground towards the end of the month.

February 11, 2013

Back in Action

Category: General – Robert 4:57 pm

I have been out of the Houston vegetable garden for a while.  My daughter bought our house and we moved to a townhome.  She did a big remodeling job that tore up the garden and relocated it to to cedar boxes bought as a kit.  One box is 18X4 and the other is 12X3. Both are about 15” high and are filled with a special mix from Ground Up.  It looks like a good mix but the fall planting seemed to not be growing as it should.  I sent off a soil sample and found it to be very deficient in nitrogen; perhaps not surprising because the mix has a lot of compost in it.  Nevertheless, it was an expensive mix and was billed as ready to go.  Fortunately, an easy problem to solve.

May 22, 2011

Tomato Report for Houston

Category: Beans & Peas,General,Tomatoes – Robert 3:18 pm

Tomatoes have been excellent in my Houston vegetable garden.  They always seem to be best in dry years when the amount of water can be controlled.  Merced was easily the best again. I think I still have 2 or 3 seed left for next year, but then that will be it for Merced.  The “Merced replacement” has been ok but not especially noteworthy.  Celebrity and Marglobe were both better. Moneymaker was disappointing but I planted it in a different and less desirable location so I will give a more fair trial next year.  The Orange Paruche cherry has done pretty well. It is very much like Sun Gold, but on a determinate plant.  The smaller plant does not produce as much total crop as Sun Gold, but it is more manageable space wise.

Beans are into the second cycle.  Festina was rather disappointing; stick with Derby.  The Annie Oakley okra starting producing on tiny plants.  It must be picked while quite small.  Stay with the traditional large varieties.  Also eating eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and a few remaining fennel.  Corn (Serendipity)  did not do very well but I think it might be because I was gone and did not give it enough fertilizer.

Back in Action

Category: General – Robert 2:47 pm

I have had a number of technical issues with the blog, primarily from spammer registering and overloading the system until it crashes.  Some changes have been made to hopefully stop this and keep the blog up.  You will no longer be asked to register to post but all posts will be moderated.

January 2, 2011

Gearing up for the Houston Spring Vegetable Garden

Category: General – Robert 11:26 am

Yes, it is time to get started on the spring Houston vegetable garden even though it will be a couple of months before much is planted outdoors. Tomato seed need to be started indoors under a grow light now. This year I will try a new variety, P324 B Florida 47 VFF from Stokes Seed, billed as a replacement for Merced. Merced has consistently been my best performer, but it has been discontinued by the seed companies. BHN 602 is also billed as a Merced replacement, but I have not gotten seed for it yet. The seed are available from Reimer Seed as are hundreds of other varieties of tomatoes. Others I will plant will be Homestead, Celebrity and maybe a couple of others. For the plum and cherry types, I plant Sweet Chelsea and Sun Gold. Both are good producers but are somewhat of a nuisance because the vines grow so rampantly. Sun Gold is nice to have as a yellow tomato for presentation purposes.

The super sugar snaps went in on December 18, but have been very slow to germinate. They are something of an in between crop, started well after the usual fall vegetables but continue to produce into April. Their season gives me some space planning issues but they are well worth any bother. I rate them as one of top home vegetable crops for Houston. They produce well and the store varieties are always expensive.

Otherwise, it has just been growing and picking. Contessa onions were planted December 10 following Dixondale Farms recommendation. Lettuce, greens and turnips are producing. Beets are about ready. No cauliflower or sprouts yet. Fennel doing well but still a ways off. Something ate all my broccoli plants. Growth is slow this time of the year with cool weather and short days.

October 27, 2010

Transplanting Fall Vegetables

Category: General – Robert 8:04 pm

Some advice on transplanting to Houston vegetable gardeners:  I sow a lot of extras seed to make sure I get a good stand of whatever I am planting.  Seed are cheap on the scale of a backyard garden; so it make sense to err on the side of getting a well spaced stand.  Most of the time I have a lot of extra plants and can use them to plant elsewhere.  I prefer area plantings but it is easier to plant seed in rows and then use transplants to fill in between the rows.

It has been a tough fall for transplanting in the Houston vegetable garden; hot weather and little cloud cover.  As a result transplanting directly would not be very sucessful–the plants would die the first day no matter how much you watered them.  My best technique is to transplant to small pots or a flat and move the plants indoors under the plant light.  After a few days they can be taken outside starting with a few hours only of sunlight.  I get almost 100% success with this method.  If you don’t have a plant light, use the same technique but move them to full shade for a couple of days and then gradually reintroduce sunlight. Some plants such as beans are difficult to transplant but others such as lettuce and greens are easy.

October 21, 2010

Fall Planting

Category: General – Robert 4:14 pm

The first and second waves of fall plantings are complete.  Beans were planted Labor Day weekend and are now about ready to produce.  Lettuce, carrots, fennel, beets, turnips, Swiss chard. broccoli,bok choi and greens were planted the last week of September.  The weather was mild and I got good stands.  However, the hot weather of the past week has been tough on the plants.  They don’t like 90 degree weather.

Something has been seriously snacking on the plants in one part of the garden.  I am not sure what it is, but I suspect a rabbit.  Too much seems to be eaten at one time for it to be snails.  Anyhow, the possums have been taking good care of the snails.  It has wiped out all the lettuce and bok choi and is now onto the turnips.  Perhaps a net over the plants would help.  My dog has not been of much help; prefers to sleep in the air conditioning.

I also bought some cauliflower and brussels sprouts to try.  I have not had much luck with them but though an early start might help.  The hot weather has been hard on them.  I have lost several of the plants.  I think it was just the hot weather but a cut worm might have gotten one of them.

I planted some chervil and dill and they came up very well.  No sign of the cilantro and parsley reseeding yet.

August 17, 2010

Fall Garden Plan

Category: General – Robert 10:41 am

Only 110 heat index so better to be planning than doing.  The fall garden in Houston is basically a cool weather garden so one does not need to get started too early unless you want to plant corn or tomatoes.  I have had reasonable luck with corn, but poor results for fall tomatoes.  For both of these crops ripening will occur in early November when the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler (hopefully).  As a result, ripening will be slow.  For corn it spreads the ripening over a longer period than in the spring; not a bad thing.  For tomatoes, however, ripening can take forever. Both corn and tomatoes need to be planted in August which means fighting intense heat for a long time.  If you must try tomatoes, the cherry/plum type are likely to be more successful than slicer varieties.
Beans are intermediate between long growing season crops like corn and the frost tolerant winter crops.  The are not frost tolerate but take only about 50 days to mature.  I have successfully planted fall beans as late as early October. However, September planting is preferred.

The real joy of fall and winter gardening is the wide variety of vegetables that do well in our cool, but not cold winters.  They include all kinds of root vegetables, greens, various member of the cabbages and lettuce and other salad greens.  The following link gives my plan for the fall garden and approximate planting dates.  2110FW Plot


July 26, 2010

First Okra

Category: General – Robert 6:50 pm

We finally got a picking of okra in the Houston vegetable garden.  I planted a combination of ZeeBest and Flower Bed, both locally produced seeds formerly available through Urban Harvest.  Both produce nice okra on bush type plants.  The seed were planted in April after the broccoli was finished.  Germination was poor; probably because the seed were rather old.  Next year I will have to decide on another variety.

Otherwise things are rather slow.  The heavy rains have caused a lot of weeds to germinate.  It was a good spring garden.  A real good crop of tomatoes, beans that lasted into June and a lot of onions and leeks.  We had a few left over beets that we finally pulled in July.  They were still good!