A Look at Winter Vegetables in the Summer Garden


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Winter vegetables do grow during our summer heat, but common knowledge states that they will not have a great taste during the summer months. This may not be the case.

I would love to travel to a drought free zone to find the lush jungle of a summer garden. Many of my plants are under stress, which means that they are not producing. The hot peppers keep providing me with spice for my meals. The basil abundantly fills its space. The grape vines run along their trellis, so stuffed grape leaves are on the table. However, being cautious with my watering means that the garden is not lush. I was so grateful for the rain last week, and the ground still holds that moisture, which makes me wonder why neighbors were watering their gardens for hours on end. I could be like the neighbor behind my house; let the garden die of thirst. I did notice that a few winter vegetables were doing well in this heat and lower water, but this is not the time to eat them, or is it?
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Flash Frying Herbs and Leafy Greens


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Does everything taste better deep fried? No, but quickly frying herbs and leafy greens gives you a delicious flavor punch.

Do you like fried foods? I have a love-hate relationship with them. Fat carries flavor; oil is fat; and fat does damage to my body. I have worked hard to reduce the amount of unhealthy oils in the family diet, yet there are those traditional dishes that taste better with fat. My wife has become more concerned with fats in the diet, so she chides me when she sees any fat in a dish. Yet I decided to quickly fry herbs for a garnish on a pasta. This flash fry added a punch of flavor that passed my wife’s inspection.
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The Garden in November


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Houston does not have the temperature drops of other areas, so the vegetable garden continues.

Leaves are falling on a regular basis. Each day I sweep the patio and sidewalks. I do not mind, since this is a relaxing exercise in the cool breeze. I am taking the leaves for compost piles. I used to shred the leaves, but I create layered piles of compost under/behind bushes. What is different this year from previous years is that I am still expanding my network of garden beds. I usually spend my time working with existing beds and garden structures. I am still doing working on trellises and frames. I am still clearing out beds in preparation for the spring. However, I think that I would be planting even more if the vegetables were available.
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Autumn Vegetable Plantings And An October Harvest


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Houston’s winter is not so harsh, so we do have time for new vegetable plantings, while harvesting from our summer crop.

The cold front has moved in, and everyone is expressing relief from the heat. The weather has inspired the casual gardeners to work in their yards. For me the best part has been to sit out on the porch with the family each evening. I read my books, while others play. The insects do not seem to be too bad. I have much of the tea house done. The girls should enjoy that space, but currently the tree house is seeing activity. Dinners have been filled with the harvest from the garden. I used a bit too much curry plant leaves in one dish, and I will not make that mistake again. (Curry plant has a curry like aroma, but the flavor is not the subtle blend of spices that you find in curry). The eggplant, peppers, and tomato plants have come alive again. I am waiting for the cucumbers that were planted in late summer. Then there are the beans. October is a fruitful month.
    I heard a report where a scientist predicted that our summers will commonly see temperatures in the triple digits in the coming years. The prediction goes on to indicate that our winters will be quite mild. The harsh heat and humidity at the end of summer causes many of my plants to go into a stand-by mode. They are growing, but not producing. However, our winters are not so bad for quite a few vegetables. I planted lettuce and collards in a new bed in the front yard. I have my cabbage in place, as well as my broccoli and brussel sprouts. I am hoping for a swiss chard planting soon. I am not sure what my older daughter planted, but I seem to be either finding cilantro or parsley growing in one bed. I have been thinking of growing mustard greens again, but I am not sure if the children will eat them.
    As I have been watering my garden, my neighbor’s tree has spread its limbs over my vegetables. What used to be a sunny space is now shade. I have been spurred on to create more garden beds in the front yard, which my wife is starting to have reservations over. Along the one side was great. Along the front sidewalk was fine. Yet connecting the front beds to the beds near the home along the other side may not fly. I have started to create such a bed by moving the gifted grape pant to this area. The grape was being overtaken by some beans, and I wanted it to have full sun.  There were not many options in existing beds, so I made my move. I am hoping to have the swiss chard go in a bed below  the support frame for the grape. It will take the grape vine time to fill in that space.
    I may have started a bit early, but I moved a crepe myrtle to a new bed. When we moved into our home, the left front bed was framed by several crepe myrtles. They looked nice, but they did not let my Italian cypress fill out. I decided that since I was already rearranging plants and crating new beds that I would move one tree that was in a position that I wanted clear. I dug out this twenty-five foot tree, and dragged it to a new spot along the easement on the other side of my yard. I am watering it every other day. My experience in the past with moving these myrtles has been that the leaves fall off sooner. The tree appears to go dormant or die, but then it comes back in the spring. It takes a year for it to be as active as it once was. I probably should have waited for the tree to go dormant, but if I do loose the tree, I do not mind. I have enough crepe myrtles, and I can always make a cutting to propagate a new specimen.
    I have not worked with many flowering plants for the autumn. I have only planted a few asters. The blue flowers are being picked by the girls to give as gifts to the neighbors. Note to self: I need a lot of flowering plants to keep up with their habit. I should be planting pansies soon. Those flowers make a nice addition to salads. Color more so than flavor.Well, I am going to spend more time in the yard. Just relaxing.

Greetings

This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank

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